Thursday, December 16, 2010

ScopiSat's Top Ten Holiday Songs of All Time - with free download!

It's that time of year again, ScopiSubjects:  The season for stress-eating, winter-weight, family lunacy, and some of the most ridiculous moments of recorded sound ever flung into a microphone.

But luckily these few days in December are also the time for giving crap gifts, receiving crap gifts, fashionably layering, and, most importantly, loving the hell out of some songs that at any other time of the year would be laughed off the airwaves.

So in honor of our second Christmas on the interwebs, we bring you the ScopiSat Top Ten Holiday Songs of All Time, based on a series of arbitrary criteria including how "Holiday Spirit-inducing the track is" and always remembering this is a blog that celebrates POP.

We warn you, there's a lot of cheer up in this bitch.

10.  Run DMC - 'Christmas in Hollis'

In a world overrun with "traditional" holiday tunes, Run DMC shoved a little Queens in our stocking back in 1987, and it's been a classic ever since.  It's such a jam, in fact, that they played it at the beginning of GODDAMNED "DIE HARD."  Enough said.

09.  The Carpenters - 'Merry Christmas Darling'

This is one of the few understated tunes you'll find on this list - if you haven't noticed, we have a fondness for the slightly ostentatious - but its subtlety and barely-contained emotion are what turned this 1970 track into a perennial favorite.  Such a favorite, in fact, that just this year it was covered by Lea Michele on 'Glee.'  With...uh...less subtlety.  The video features a creepily-thin Karen Carpenter with a winter monster on her noggin.  So....just putting that out there as a heads up.

08.  Bill Nighy as Billy Mack - 'Christmas Is All Around Me'

Billy Mack Christmas Is All Around Me
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Alright, we know we're going to get some crap from purists on this baby, but it's nothing we haven't heard before from Ke$ha fans (who, incidentally, have SHOCKINGLY FOUL MOUTHS), and no objection will change the fact that few tunes make us feel as much in the Christmas spirit as this one.  Recorded by fake washed-up rocker Billy Mack for the 2004 film 'Love, Actually,' this bona-fide jam is a hastily reworked version of The Troggs' 'Love Is All Around Me.'  Though it was intentionally bad - Nighy's character refers to the song as a "festering turd of a record" - it's got a certain earnestness about it that just can't be denied.

07.  The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl - 'Fairytale of New York'

Pogues Fairytale Of New York
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We heard this story once about how the woman who recorded the voice for the possessed kid in 'The Exorcist' was actually some 80 year old who prepared for the role every day by smoking a ton of reds and chugging whiskey.  Well if she ever called in sick, Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan could easily step right in.  He's one of those singers that isn't an actual singer at all, but he and Ms. MacColl give this song a heart and soul that injects it with a life of its own.  Maybe it's Shane's connection to Christmas that really shines through - he was born on Dec. 25.  Tragically, and eerily, MacColl died in 2001, one week to the day before Christmas.  These two artists have some crazy ties to the holidays for sure, and 'Fairytale' ensures this time of year is what we'll always remember them for.

06.  Michael Buble - 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'

There may not be anything tougher than to make a truly classic song your own, but that's just what Michael Buble did when he rerecorded this holiday staple for his 2003 'Let It Snow!' (the "!" is because he's REALLY SERIOUS about it snowing, eh?) EP.  To be fair, Buble could sing the phone book and we'd still daydream to it over a glass of wine and some Klonopin, but whatever this is a damn good track, and we won't hear another word about it.

05.  Amy Grant - 'Grown Up Christmas List'

Ok, let's just get this out of the way - we heart Amy Grant.  Hard.  Sure, it's not surprising, considering our hyper-Christian upbringing, but it's also well deserved as she is quite an accomplished songwriter and seasoned performer.  While most of the other singers on this list just showed up and did their job warbling to someone else's tune, Amy (that's Ms. Vince Gill if you're nasty) had a hand in writing a timeless song that has gone on to be rerecorded, translated and updated as the years pass.  (As a side note, one of her entirely self penned tracks from the same parent album nearly made this list instead, but we deemed 'Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)' to be a little too niche.)  Back in 1992 Amy chucked out this tune, and it's hard to imagine a world where it isn't a certified Christmas classic.  Countless cover versions have come and gone (including one by our number 6 entrant, Michael Buble), but this cheesy electric keyboard schlockfest is still our go-to incarnation.

04.  The Waitresses - 'Christmas Wrapping'

In 1981 the Akron, Ohio New-Wave band The Waitresses, who gave us 'I Know What Boys Like' and.....well, nothing else, foisted this tale of ski shops, sunburns, and tragic missed connections, onto an unsuspecting world just settling in for the Christmas holiday.  It didn't even chart in their native country, and it hit biggest in the UK with a non-canon #45 placing.  Still, nearly 20 years later this track has taken on a life of its own in every mid-tier department store and self-serve-soda-fountain restaurant in the English speaking world this time of year.  It's the perfect mix of sass and sentiment, and we'll take a big helping what these Waitresses are serving up.

03.  Kylie - 'Santa Baby'

Kylie Minogue - Santa Baby
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Pop princess Kylie Minogue redefined the HO-lidays when she included this slutted up, jazzed down interpretation of the 1953 classic as a B-side to her 2000 UK top 10 hit 'Please Stay.'  Since then it's recharted over and over, hopped across the ocean to the States, and, presumably, continued on to the North Pole where it seduced Santa, all of the straight male reindeer (there are 3, FYI) and then made off with the sleigh - presents in tow.  A full decade later it's still selling like holiday hotcakes, because - Christmas or not - Santasex sells.

02.  Adam Sandler - 'The Chanukah Song'

Surprised?  You shouldn't be.  This ode to the Jewish Festival Of Lights has become a staple of the holiday season.  Despite its jokey inception, 'The Chanukah Song' filled a void in the lives of countless people who, understandably, had tired of the incessant banging-on about Saint Nick and Jesus and all of that junk that clutters the radio waves starting at about midnight on Halloween every f*cking year.  But the song is really much more than just a Chanukah carol - it's a sort of anti-establishment holiday rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place during the holidays.  Don't feel like you and that fat-uncle-who-makes-you-sit-on-his-lap-even-though-you're-31-now-and-you-KNOW-he's-not-really-your-uncle really "get each other"? Listen to this list of other people who are holiday outcasts - you're not alone!  Other people have been cast aside by Christmastime society!  FAMOUS people!  A lot of which undoubtedly have creepy uncles too. :(

01.  Mariah Carey - 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'

Yeah, we know.  You could see this coming a mile away.  But you also can't deny that it really, truly, deserves to be here. It's the seminal example of pop music grabbing on to a deeply emotional, undeniably spiritual, definitively personal event and completely looting all its viable parts in aid of selling some goddamn records.  In short, it is POP.  But that shouldn't take away from the fact that for millions of people the world over, and, we're sure, one very fat Mariah, this tune has come to be synonymous with all things tinseled.  Consistently the highest charting perennial holiday tune, we're obviously not alone in our assessment of the track's virtues.  A true modern classic, there's really not a lot more to say about it, other than that despite the original video's iconography, we actually prefer the above clip with a bunch of gays mouthing the words.  Because nothing says "festive" like some homos in scarves.

So there you have it.  The definitive (read: not definitive at all) list of the ABSOLUTE BEST holiday tunes ever recorded. 

BUT WAIT! It wouldn't be the holidays without presents, now would it?  (readers: "no") So as a sort of runner-up/randomly tacked on addition, here is a totally free download of Hurts' new holiday track 'All I Want For Christmas Is New Years Day.' 

Dark?  Yes.  Brings down the mood?  Of course.  Excellent?  FACT.
  Hurts - All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day - by the Pop Sucker