2. Mariah Carey/Olivia Olson, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”
Now for the exception to the covers-vs.-originals rule. In 1994, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was yet another example of Mariah Carey ruining a perfectly good song with her bombastic vocal approach. Many dogs have lost their hearing as a direct result of Ms. Carey’s body of work over the years, and “All I Want” seemed like a cover song even though it was co-written by Carey. Fast-forward to 2003’s “Love Actually,” where the song was reborn as a performance during the film’s pivotal Christmas school concert. A kid named Olivia Olson (with the backing of the school band and choir) rescued the song from the clutches of Mariah’s ego-mania with a spirited version that makes the original suffer by comparison. If you’re not moved in particular by the acapella beginning of the song, well, you have no Christmas spirit to speak of.
Wait…Frosty the Snowman is supposed to be the mutant product of nuclear fallout? Like Godzilla??? This blows my mind.
Also, while I do like the “Love Actually” version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” there’s still a special place in my heart for the Mariah version. It’s become an annual sing-along event in my office. No joke. Did I mention I work for the government?
Great list. Like Mark, I also really love the shit out of Mariah’s version of “All I Want for Christmas is You” (but I’m in general a huge fan of pre-1997 uptempo Mariah singles).
My personal favorite is “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9KpNznVLlY, from Crosby’s 1977 Christmas Special. Crosby sounds great, Bowie’s counterpoint (written for this recording) is beautiful, and the silly patter before the clip is priceless (and is exactly the sort of thing that Colbert riffed on perfectly in “A Colbert Christmas).
Great list. I submit Fairytale of New York by the Pogues, though have been told on occasion that it “doesn’t really count.”
If that were the case 24Frames, then dozens of Christmas songs wouldn’t count. I wholeheartedly agree with you on Fairytale of New York.
I nominate The Eagles’ “Please Come Home For Christmas”
I second Fairytale of New York. When I saw the title, it was the first and only song that came to mind.
“Alfie the Christmas Tree” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by John Denver and The Muppets. The latter amazingly by John and Rowlf.
“My Little Drum” and “Christmastime is Here” by The Vince Guaraldi Trio for A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Thank you for putting “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” on your list. You have brought a sense of validation to the perverseness in me that likes kitschy, strange, and slightly dark stuff.
Having said that, I am a big fan of the traditional Christmas songs, and not generally into holiday songs about the death of a close relative (the writers of “The Christmas Shoes” should be flogged). But for some reason, I just love the heck out of this dumb song. It is it’s irreverence and silliness that gets me, and I smirk every time it gets to the part about grandpa showing that he’s holding up okay by “drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel”.
In the same vein as “All I Want for Christmas” from Love Actually, I must also submit, “Christmas is All Around,” by Billy Mack (Bill Nighy.)