Following my summer in the US, I’m back in the UK for the winter, planning my return to America next year. To keep myself occupied, I’m currently working in retail – a chocolate shop, to be specific. This is actually almost as much of a dream job as it sounds, particularly for someone who rivals Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf in terms of festive spirit.
There’s a certain amount of autonomy with my current job, and part of it is that I spend much of my time with a great degree of control over the music playing in store. This led to the Christmas playlist being used for the first time two weeks ago, and being a constant feature of my working environment ever since.
As I rang up a customer’s purchases and jigged along to Wizzard’s festive masterpiece yesterday, the customer smiled at me and became the umpteenth person to ask whether I was sick of the seasonal soundtrack yet. “Never!” I cried joyfully. “I love this stuff!”
“Alright,” was his swift response, “top three Christmas songs – go.”
It was the first time I’d been put on the spot like that, but I trotted out a quick answer nonetheless. Here’s what I came up with under pressure:
- At number three, the contemporary classic – and original version – Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You. This wasn’t one of my favourites, but I have come to love dancing around the shop to this song (possibly not as much as the guys who work across the way in a camera shop love laughing at me)
- In at number two, it’s a new entry for the Doritos Mariachi Band with their cover of East 17’s Stay Another Day. Another example of advertising genius, I doff my sombrero to Doritos and their cheesy (see what I did there?) campaign. Their latest offering is, incredibly, available on iTunes, and I think it’s well-worth a purchase (obviously)
- And topping the you-have-two-seconds-to-think-this-through chart, it’s Bill Nighy and the seminal movie-related classic Christmas Is All Around from the Love Actually (“eight is a lot of legs, David!”) soundtrack. Because it’s been 10 years since the best Christmas film in the history of the world (and that’s saying something, given that Keira Knightley ruins a good chunk of it) was released and if this song doesn’t chart, I haven’t tried hard enough
Now that the dust has settled, the customer has departed smiling and I’ve had more time to think about it, here’s a more comprehensive rundown of some of my favourite Christmas tunes:
- Another new entry (discovered in a fit of desperation when going through some old Christmas compilation CDs to create the shop playlist) – T-Rex’s Christmas Bop. If you’ve heard of it, I’m very impressed
- More than an honourable mention for Frankie Goes To Hollywood and The Power of Love – aka, the bridesmaid to Band Aid’s bride. This song is really suitable year-round, but became infamous during that heady Christmas (which I wasn’t around for) of 1984
- You can probably blame Scott Mills for this one: Dominick the Donkey – never fails to raise a “what on EARTH is this?!” comment when it comes on in the shop, followed shortly by me singing along to the “hee haw hee haw hee haw” section
- The band who are known primarily for their songs about distance – The Pretenders and 2000 Miles
- One of my long time favourites – partly because, as one of my colleagues pointed out, hindsight means that hearing George Michael sing about girls is extra entertaining – Wham!’s Last Christmas
If those songs don’t get you in the festive mood, I don’t know what will. Well, I do – my Christmas playlist is, after all, a mighty 89 tracks long and growing steadily. But if you want to know what will kill my Christmas spirit faster than Rupert “Grinch” Murdoch robbing free-to-air TV of Elf, it’s this: Fairytale of New York. A favourite for many people, there’s one simple reason I cannot stand this song: Shane MacGowan scares me.
As you open the first door of your advent calendar, contemplate dusting off your decorations and pull on your Christmas jumper – I’m wearing mine to work today to mark the fact that December has begun and Christmas really is just around the corner – have a think about what’ll be filtering through your speakers this month, and let me know which tracks get you in the festive mood each year. Good ones might even make it onto my playlist for you to join me for a little dance as you shop!