5. John Lennon, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
Completing the Phil Spector Christmas trifecta is this Lennon solo song, recorded in 1971 as a protest to the Vietnam War and to suffering in general. Taking the title from a slogan that he and partner Yoko Ono used in 1969, John Lennon recorded the song with actual children recruited to join in on the chorus. Lennon pointedly asks listeners “what have you done” in the previous year, because from where he sits they haven’t done enough to help those less fortunate. A far gentler protest song than some of his other works, “Happy Xmas” became one of Lennon’s epitaphs in the wake of his December 1980 assassination. Though it’s been covered by way too many artists that have no right to do so (Celine Dion even got in on the act, further giving proof that she is the Anti-Christ of music), this simple plea to do right by those less fortunate during the Christmas season is still powerful enough to move even the hardest-hearted listener (I’m looking at you, Bill O’Reilly).