Tim: OH YES. Tom, I know you’ll hate that we are featuring this, and part of me wants to apologise for just saying: I don’t care.
Tom: Tim, the original version was… not a great track. We talked about this. They sing “toot toot”, unironically. I cannot understand, for the life of me, why you think th–
Tim: Look, it’s one of the very best songs of the year, and although we’ve already featured the regular version, the other day I discovered this extended version (thanks, Siri), which is, according to MATHEMATICS, 48.9% better. What better a track to feature on Christmas Day, then?
Tom: I’d say “literally anything else”, but I’m sure you’d find something.
Tim: Toot toot! If you want to get revenge on me at some point, I’ll accept that. But right now, MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Tom: Is this another track where I have to ignore the title? Because I feel like I have to ignore the title on this.
Tim: You do. Because I mentioned on Friday how Christmas songs are full of clichés, and songs fitting into various categories: love songs, heartbreak songs, celebratory songs, miserable songs – your basic ones. We don’t get that many songs that are just “please, anybody, just come and keep me company”, though.
Tim: I say that, it’s not actually the first time Lisa’s done a song like this, though her one two years ago was slightly more specific. Here, she’s just hoping for anyone. An unusual look, sure, but I guess it takes a strong person to come right out and be this desperate, so fair play to her for that.
Tom: And you know what? This is actually not a bad song. Even the “terribly good” bit from the title, which I thought was going to be a nightmare, seems to work in context. This is fun! It’s not going on my Christmas playlist any time soon — if I had a Christmas playlist — but it’s not hateful. By my standards, that’s practically a ringing endorsement.
Tim: Lyrics aside (as I’ll accept they do get a bit annoying with the whole “I deserve this” attitude) I reckon it’s a nice song – I like the style, I like the melody, and sure the verses are a bit too quiet for my liking, the chorus hits the right level. So yeah – overall, I’ll take this.
SO, by my count, we now have 7 out of 12 Christmas songs that you’ve said positive things about! So unless I spoil it all tomorrow with a song you absolutely hate, I think we can call this year a success.
“It is silly, it is childish, it is Christmassy as heck, and I adore it.”
Tim: We featured a couple of tracks off Sia’s Christmas album when it came out last year, but I’ve been listening to it again a bit this year, and boy have I got this one stuck in my head now.
Tom: A whole Christmas album. With loads of original songs. From Sia. I’m still kind of amazed.
Tim: It is silly, it is childish, it is Christmassy as heck, and I adore it.
Tom: And the thing is, it is actually one of the best Christmas songs you’ve sent this year. If not the best. I dismiss Christmas albums as thoughtless cash-ins most of the time, but even I’ve got to admit this is a solid track.
Tim: The nice melody, the jingly jangly chiming, the fun lyrics, the mischievous verging on evil snowman in the delightful video. Three days to go, Tom, and I am ALL IN.
Tom: I’m not! You’ve got two songs left, good luck.
“I ask you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE to look past that god awful title.”
Tim: Only a few days left, so let’s get back to Christmas with this, from Danish singer Nabiha. Tom, I ask you PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE to look past that god awful title, because that word doesn’t appear even once in the song. Think of it as being entirely untitled, why not.
Tom: I’m glad you gave me that warning. What an awful, awful title for a… not bad song? It’s in the old traditions, the singer has a great voice, and I see what they were aiming for.
Tim: Occasionally, Tom, I get where you’re coming from with Christmas songs, because GOD are they full of clichés.
Tom: Yes. The disappointing thing here is the clunky lyrics and, frankly, depressing message.
Tim: Here, we’ve got the standard ‘trying to enjoy myself but I just can’t because I’m not with you’. Except, let’s read far too much into these lyrics. In particular, that outro – “I’m in tears and it’s the same, every damn year on the holiday”. Because…man, that’s upsetting. I don’t know how long it’s been since the break up this song centres on happened, but if we’re saying every then it’s got to be at least three or four years back. And she’s still not over it, and has no indication that it’ll every change?
Oof, that’s just…that’s kind of depressing, and I almost wish I hadn’t noticed it.
Tom: That’s fair, I wish you hadn’t pointed it out to me.
Tim: Fair. In that case, let me cheer you up by pointing out what’s almost the reverse: in your favourite, The Darkness’ Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End), we have Justin Hawkins praying ‘each and every Christmas Day that it won’t end’ – implying it never actually does. And how nice is that?
“All I Want For Christmas Is You Sodding Right Off”
Tim: It had been FAR too long since we’ve featured new Christmas music, so here’s this, and it’s a bit odd: someone at Sony A&R had the feeling that there aren’t enough new Christmas songs, or some gubbins like that, and so they’ve put together an EP of five tracks from five unrelated artists. Cynics might argue that’s simply an excuse to plug all their upcoming talent at once; I’m just happy that it’s CHRISTMAS.
Tom: I mean, both those things can be true.
Tim: It’s safe to say that “All I Want For Christmas Is You Sodding Right Off”–
Tim: –probably wouldn’t have sold quite as many records for Mariah, but other bands have done it entirely successfully (looking at you, Dragonette), and this pretty much works. Not as well as that Dragonette track, obviously, because that’s a work of art, but well enough.
Tom: Full marks to the producer for that step down from the chorus to the second verse: that steady descent turned what’s usually a dull bit of a track into something that fits really well. You’re right, there’s a lot to like here: the horn section, the big chorus, even the more-interesting-than-usual-for-pop rhythms that show up in the middle eight.
Tim: It’s got all the festive necessities, and while it may not be an all time great, this year we’ve got The Fizz for that, so this’ll do.
“I’ve not had a song properly wind me up like this in a long while.“
Tim: We might not be featuring current Christmas tracks every day, but BOY are there a lot of goodies from the past. We’ve featured Nova a few times before – she’s off Sweden – but missed this when it came out a few years back. Which is a shame, because it holds up very well as a Christmas song and as a pop song.
Tom: It’s rare that I actually dislike a track so much I have to stop listening, Tim, but at the first chorus — specifically the line “that’s my perfect Christmas”, I had to. And then I realised this isn’t the first time I’ve done that: somehow I heard this on the radio while driving through the US recently. (Heaven knows why, they usually just play the same ten tracks on repeat.)
Tim: WOW, that is fantastic. And sure, the lyrics are a bit damp and melty in places, and I’m never all that keen on “all I want is peace” because I’m fairly sure in a high number of cases that’s somewhat bullshit, especially for a teenager, as she was.
Tom: Damp and melty? If I didn’t know this was a proper release, I’d assume the lyrics were either written by a four-year-old or written by an adult trying to parody the horrible overly-saccharine Christmas ballads. I’ve not had a song properly wind me up like this in a long while.
Tim: Oh, you are SO WELCOME. That “ring out the love, our hearts are uniting” is a fantastic line musically, no-one can dispute the inherent festivity–
Tom: YES I CAN
Tim: –FINE, but also the message at the end of the middle eight does come across as genuinely heartfelt and lovely.
Tom: I wouldn’t know, I didn’t get that far.
Tim: All in all, I really do like this track. Although, yeah, I slightly understand if you don’t.
“Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse it had lip-smacking noises in the middle eight.”
Tim: Care to see what’s coming out of Germany this festive period?
Tom: What, again? I wasn’t impressed last time, and now you’re bringing the B-side?
Tom: It’s terrible! For different reasons!
Tim: The second track released by this lovely group, it’s a cover of a 1987 track by Rolf Zuckowski, the title of which translates as ‘In The Winter Bakery’, inspired by Rolf’s phone call to his wife where he found out his kids were baking biscuits for him when he arrived home after a gig. And isn’t that just the most heartwarming tale of all?
Tom: Or sickening.
Tim: Or sickening, whichever.
Tom: I mean, I realise it’s a schlager cover of a kids’ song, so maybe I should just shut my mouth, but I reckon this what schlager sounds like to people who don’t like schlager. Does that make sense? Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse it had lip-smacking noises in the middle eight.
Tim: Here’s a promise for you, Tom: how annoying you may find this, you’d find it at least 700% more annoying if the lyrics were in English, because MY GOD are they twee. However. It’s Christmas. FAMILY TIME. And so we should celebrate every part of it. Right?
Tom: We’re half way through “Can We Get Tom Feeling Festive”, Tim, and so far it’s not going well.
“If you’re translating that right, it’s basically ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ with less consent.”
Tim: Care to see what’s coming out of Germany this festive period?
Tom: “Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby”. Maybe there’s no equivalent in German, and that’s a bit like English speakers saying “schadenfreude”.
Tim: “I don’t want a white Christmas, I don’t care for presents, all I want is for you to bring him back.” Taken literally that might lead to a slightly disturbing situation (“Ho ho ho!” “Santa! Have you brought me my presents?” “No, I’m afraid I’m here to kidnap you and give you to that girl you broke up with.”) but let’s face it, it’s almost a tradition for Christmas song lyrics to make no sense if you think about them for more than half a second, so never mind.
Tom: If you’re translating that right, it’s basically “All I Want For Christmas Is You” with less consent. But sure, let’s ignore the lyrics.
Tim: Instead, the music, which brought a smile to my face within a couple of seconds of pressing play. It is joyful and tinkly and infectious, and I was joyously singing along to the chorus the second time it came around (the English bits, anyway).
Tom: I’ll give it credit for precisely one thing: that unnecessary, cheesy electric guitar riff in the background. That did make me smile. Apart from that, I can’t say I’m impressed.
Tim: That six note descending bit that hits just before each verse is absolutely wonderful and makes me smile every time it comes around, and all in all I love it: it’s cheesy German pop, done festive. And as far as I’m concerned that’s a recipe for perfection.
Tom: Can I hum the chorus after one listen? Yes. Do I want to? No. No I don’t.
Tim: The current theme of Britain seems to be that no-one has a bloody clue what’s happening. As such, I present to you Eric Clapton’s tribute to Avicii.
Tim: Now I don’t mean any disrespect to Eric or anything, because the man’s a musical legend, but mate: this is garbage.
Tom: I appreciate the idea: do some good guitar riffs, get someone to put it in an Avicii style, make a tribute. Who knows? Maybe he did the mixing himself. Which, actually, would explain a lot. The execution isn’t exactly great.
Tim: It’s six minutes of the extra bits that get stuck outside dance remixes of tracks so the DJs can mix in and out of out of other songs, except the only proper bit in there lasts for precisely 25 seconds. I mean, what is the point of this? For the most part it’s not even slightly recognisable or remotely festive, and as a tribute to a great DJ it’s almost insulting. And…and…and just basically why. Mind you, right now why anything?
Tom: I do, for basically everything we’re covering this week, but this seems like an exceptional example.
Tim: I say a simple way to make sure an October release stays around long enough to get on the work Christmas party playlist, and now I’ve had that thought I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Anyway, slow and tedious country song, turned into a pretty good dance tune, now all Christmassed up.
Tim: So, regarding the ‘cheap remix’ accusations that will inevitably be thrown at this.
Tom: I mean, “accusations” is putting it mildly, if anyone spent more than a fiver on this remix I’ll be surprised.
Tim: There’s evidence here that some thought has actually gone into it. You’ve obviously got your copy and paste jingle bells on every other beat, and your find and replace drum beats for church bells plus drum beat, but there’s more. Listen in the quiet instrumental bit, from about a minute in, and behind there you’ve got quiet tinkles following the actual melody, rather than the standard jingle bells, and that shows actual thought. Yes, you could put the regular ones on, no-one would complain, it would fine. But no – there’s time and thought gone into this, which I like a lot. It impresses me.
Tom: One week into Can We Get Tom Feeling Festive, and Tim, all I can say is that you’re easily impressed.
Tim: What can I say, I just love Christmas. I’ve got time.