Merry Christmas everybody?

James McNair hears from the stars of the music scene about the songs that most summon up the Christmas spirit for them
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The Independent Culture


My favourite Christmas record? That's a tough one. I suppose it would have to be "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby. With me growing up in Australia, you'll understand why I was forced into dreaming of one. AC/DC once recorded a song called "Mistress for Christmas". It went: "Jingle bells, jingle bells/ Jingle all the day/ I just can't wait till Christmas time/ I can grope you in the hay." Pretty festive!


My favourite Christmas song is "Food for Thought", which was our very first single. It's about the hypocrisy of Christmas.


"O Holy Night". It's a beautiful song that has been covered by every singer who can stretch beyond a half-octave. I like Nat "King" Cole's version. Every year REM do a cover version of a different song for Christmas,` exclusively for our fan club. We've done "Deck the Halls", "Good King Wenceslas", and "Ghost Reindeer in the Sky"!

CRAIG REID, The Proclaimers

"Lonely This Christmas", by Mud. Was that 1974? Whatever year it was, it was still No 1 the following January and February - maybe even in March. Les Gray was taking the piss out of Elvis with his crooning. Some people got offended, but I loved it. I still laugh every time I hear it.

CHARLIE REID, The Proclaimers

I would debate whether there's actually such a thing as a good Christmas record, but I do quite like John & Yoko's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)." I like the sentiment, with the resonance of the Vietnam war thing. Wars aren't very Christmassy, but there you go.

DAVE NAVARRO, Jane's Addiction

The people who made the Charlie Brown cartoons put out an album of original Christmas music that I love. It takes me back to when I was kid, back to when Christmas was still magical and I didn't understand it was just a money racket.


The pianist George Winston did an album called December that I really love. It's just solo piano, and he's doing versions of "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Carol of the Bells." It's done beautifully . The only Christmas song I've covered is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". It wasn't for radio or anything - which, given that it came out in February, was just as well.


There are so many I love, but Nat "King" Cole's version of "The Christmas Song" is certainly one of my favourites. The picture it paints, with chestnuts roasting on an open fire, sounds so atmospheric and idyllic. "White Christmas" has that magical quality, too. I suppose these songs portray the Christmas we would all like, but don't always get.

MUTYA BUENA, Sugababes

I love Mariah Carey's version of "All I Want for Christmas is You." She's a fantastic singer and I like the fact that she updated it. "I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus" is a good one, too. I can't remember who's version it was, but there was a cute video for it that reminded me of Christmas when I was a kid.

NINA PERSSON, The Cardigans

I'm not big on Christmas, but I do like the album Once Upon a Christmas, by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. They do great country versions of things like "Winter Wonderland" and "White Christmas."


"Winter Wonderland" by Darlene Love, from Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You, is the one. Spector's bombastic symphony has all the usual strings and timpani, only with multi-tracked sleigh bells jangling to make the point. Darlene Love belts it out like she's about to open the mother of all presents, and various Crystals and Ronettes on backing vocals rock the snow off the roof. Get my seersucker suit and jump in the Chevy baby, Santa's comin' to Broadway!


Elvis's version of "Santa Claus is Back in Town." It's precocious, horny and ridiculous, and it got me away from "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" when I was about 12. Does Elvis sing it lasciviously ? Absolutely! "Got no sleigh with reindeer/ No pack on my back/ You're gonna see me comin'/ In a big black Cadillac/ Hang up your pretty stockings/ And turn off the light/ Santa Claus is comin'/ Down your chimney tonight."

PERRY FARRELL, Jane's Addiction

It was something special when Bing Crosby and David Bowie sang "Little Drummer Boy" on Bing's Christmas show. That was amazing, immaculate. Their voices together transcended any genre. It was two fantastic crooners giving their best.


I find most Christmas songs quite nauseating. David Bowie and Bing Crosby doing "Little Drummer Boy" was a pile of shite. Talk about a brown-nose job from Bowie! And that's the singer in Jane's Addiction's favourite? He's got no taste. That's why he's in Jane's Addiction and I'm in The Stranglers. Cliff Richard winds me up, too. I saw him doing "Santa's List" on television the other night and it made me want to punch the screen. He's perpetuating a ridiculous, Victorian image of a twee Christmas.