Now it’s actually December, there will be no escaping Christmas tunes being blasted out of every shop and radio station in the land. Alas, it will be the same old five tunes played on repeat. But while we’ll always have time for Mariah’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’, if we ever hear Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ ever again, it’ll be too soon. So, if you’re looking for a Slade-free Christmas playlist that includes some oft-overlooked festive gems nestled alongside a selection of all-time classics as picked by the HuffPost UK team, skip this way...
Judy Garland - ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’
Picked By Jess Brammar (Head of News)
This has to be the saddest of all the Christmas songs, dripping with nostalgia and longing for times past and better times ahead. I know it’s an odd choice but it reminds me of one Christmas when things were pretty crap in my life, and just hearing Judy singing about her hope that “next year those who are dear to us, will be near to us once more” reminded me that it’s a time of year when it’s ok not to feel on top of the world, there are a lot of people wishing they were elsewhere or with other people. And who could not be moved by Judy Garland, singing about how she hopes “Next year all our troubles will be out of sight”? Love a bit of festive pathos.
Sia - ‘Santa’s Coming For Us’
Picked by Matt Bagwell (Executive Editor, Entertainment)
Sia could have gone down the well trodden and predictable route of releasing a Christmas covers album full of the usual suspects, but instead bestowed us with 13 original festive gems when she released ‘Everyday Is Christmas’ last year. The sinister-sounding ‘Santa’s Coming For Us’ opens the album with the (ridiculous) line “Nights are getting shorter now, hot chocolate” and sets the tone for one of the most original - and fun - Christmas albums in recent memory. Silly lyrics, ear-worm melodies and lots of jingle bells abound, all wrapped around Sia’s gorgeous voice. Oh, and there’s a song called ‘Puppies Are Forever’. Pass the cheese board.
Beach Boys - ‘Frosty The Snowman’
Picked By John Johnston (Senior Video Producer)
If you want the full Christmas TV special feeling, stick this on and instantly the world will transform into full studio sitcom lighting where everyone’s wearing christmas jumpers. Full Christmas kitsch with harmonies and arrangements only the Beach Boys could muster, when you put this on you can’t help but smile and see the world as one big musical number.
Louis Armstrong - ‘Cool Yule’
Picked by Ash Percival (Entertainment Editor)
As much as I love ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ (and I do LOVE it), there’s just something even Christmassier (yes, that’s a word) about some of the more classic songs. My favourite will always be Louis Armstrong’s ‘Cool Yule’. I remember when I worked in Next as a teenager it was their Christmas ad campaign song and it played about every 15 minutes in the store from the beginning of November onwards. That probably should have driven me mad, but the song actually really stayed with me and is always at the top of my Christmas playlist.
Billy Mack - ‘Christmas Is All Around’
Picked by Lisa Golden (Video Producer)
I’ll go for ‘Christmas Is All Around’ by Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) from the opening scene of ‘Love Actually’. It’s so wonderfully awful, and every time a washed up singer releases a Christmas album I imagine them glaring at their managers from the music booth trying to fit extra syllables into song lines
Ariana Grande - ‘Santa Tell Me’
Picked by Daniel Welsh (Entertainment Reporter)
More often than not, there’s a strong whiff of cynicism when you get contemporary pop stars trying their hand at a Christmas album, presumably trying to follow in the Louboutin-prints left by Mariah Carey when she cashes her royalties check every January. Sure, there have been a few modern offerings that have stuck around, but more often than not they’re forgettable at best, and embarrassing cash-ins at worst. That’s what makes Ariana’s ‘Santa Tell Me’ even more refreshing. An effortless offering from one of the most charming young women in pop that doesn’t borrow too heavily from existing Christmas tunes, but similarly doesn’t shy away from leaning in to a festive sound.
Bob Dylan - ‘Must Be Santa’
Picked by Vicky Frost (Executive Editor, Life)
Played at a swift trot and featuring more accordion and cymbal crashes than can ever be justified, I love Dylan’s polka-version of the traditional call and response song. Also worth the admission price: the excellent video featuring a dour-faced Dylan in a santa hat, presiding over the kind of messy Xmas party you wish you got invited to. (This is also a notably great song once you’ve had a drink.) Altogether: Ho ho ho, cherry nose, cap on head, suit that’s red …
Darlene Love - ‘Baby Please Come Home’
Picked by Micha Frazer-Carroll (Intern)
Something about the old school Motown rock-and-roll sound of this song gives me all the feels – and it might have something to do with the fact that it chimes in boldly at the emotional climax of ‘Love Actually’. Maybe. But also the whole ensemble of this song is engineered for goosebumps – with sleigh bells, musical bells, a big choir and a honky tonk piano. So many Christmas songs are about loving, longing and losing, and this song’s perfect amount of bittersweet, captures each side of that. I’m single so I don’t even know who I’m singing about when this song comes on, but it still brings a little tear to my eye.
Destiny’s Child - ‘Eight Days Of Christmas’
Picked by Sophie Gallagher (Lifestyle Reporter)
I am one of those people who listens to Christmas music from the 1 November because I love it so much. So this was a hard choice. Unconventionally I have decided to go for Destiny’s Child ‘Eight Days Of Christmas’, which may not come under the traditional banner of ‘Xmas classic’ but once you’ve seen that video (above) of Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle wearing Santa outfits in a toy shop, you can’t tell me your heart isn’t filled with festive joy.
Vonda Shepherd - ‘This Christmas’
Picked by Charlie Lindlar (Blogs Editor)
The only Christmas music my mum let us play growing up is ‘A Very Ally Christmas’, a compilation of Yuletide tunes sung by the cast of ‘Ally McBeal’ and a few guests. Robert Downey Jr does ‘River’, Jane Krakowski does ‘Run Rudolph Run’, Calista Flockhart herself does a sultry ‘Santa Baby’, it’s wild. This is the opening track and, in my family, Christmas doesn’t start until the album is first played, so it’s very special to me!
Mariah Carey - ‘All I Want For Christmas’
Picked by Harriet Grecian (Senior Video Producer)
I know, I know, the obvious one, but I would listen to this song all year round if it was socially acceptable. it brings me true Christmas joy.
Bing Crosby - ‘Mele Kalikimaka’
Picked by Steph Bossett (Video Producer)
Probably the only Christmas song about Hawaii! This 50s track is feel-good, but it does make you long for summer with its lyrics...“Here we know that Christmas will be green and briiiight...”
Justin Bieber - ‘Mistletoe’
Picked by Lucy Pasha-Robinson (Deputy Blogs Editor)
Nothing says Christmas like a tiny 17-year-old pop star singing the words: “I don’t wanna miss out on the holiday, but I can’t stop starin’ at your face”. He looks like a giant baby so I can think of better people to be under the mistletoe with but no one can deny Justin Bieber’s got an angelic voice. I like this song because it’s ridiculous but it also makes me feel a little bit like a teenager, especially the repeated use of “shawty” in the refrain. 10 out of 10.
The Pogues - ‘Fairytale Of New York’
Picked by Cathie Swan (Video Producer)
In its own fantastically grumpy, drunken warbling way, it gets me in the mood for Christmas like no other. If you want a song to belt out furiously after a sherry or five, it’s unparalleled. And it makes you feel dead naughty for having a free pass to swear triumphantly in front of stuffy relatives. What else could you ask for at Christmas?
Wizzard - ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’
Picked by Nicola Slawson (News Reporter)
I’m sorry. I really am. I know you’ll have this in your head now. But this song is Christmas in music form. Plus, ‘Fairytale of New York’ was already taken.