Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space: The Christmas Single.

Shaky

It’s only a smidge over a fortnight away, but we are already nose deep in a miasma of festive hokey cokey. Never mind the pressures of performing adequately as bestower of presents and hospitality, surely it is the Christmas single that elicits the strongest of reactions. Yes, in the main they are a commercial race to the bottom bereft of the merest scintilla of musical worth, but they do seem to burn themselves into the memory in a way that other music mostly fails. Play Wham’s Last Christmas to the man on the street and it would probably stir a more emotional response than anything off Reflektor could yield.

Which of the X Factor’s burnt offerings will be repeating on us for years to come? Paddy Power have a SiCo chosen alumnus odds-on for Christmas Number One. But peer a little further down the list and you might be surprised to find narrowing odds for The Specials, AC/DC and U2.

So here’s your opportunity to get your esprit de humbug ratcheted up early and have a festive foam at the mouth about Christmas singles you hate. Or maybe, just maybe there’s one you sneakingly regard as worthy of attention. Support your suggestion with the thinnest of lyrical mastery, the tinniest in Casio presets and the cheesiest in video direction.

Off you go then.

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59 thoughts on “Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space: The Christmas Single.

  1. I was in a supermarket today and heard a female vocal cover of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. It occurred to me that I can take Roy Wood singing it, but the stupidity of it being Christmas every day really shone out with this inane and insincere cover.

  2. I actually quite like Wham’s Last Christmas, certainly a lot more than the Band Aid song it was competing with. At least it had a half-decent lyric with a certain poignancy… I rate it near, if not level with, the Smith’s Ask in terms of perfect melancholy pop songs.

    The most senseless Christmas single I can think of is the Miles Davis/Bob Dorough travesty Blue Xmas (which got RR A-listed for anti-Christmas songs), proof that the practice was alive and kicking in 1962. Columbia twisted the trumpeter’s arm and squeezed the track into a sub-standard Gil Evans session which they later released- against Miles’ wishes- as Quiet Nights.
    Blue Xmas was some marketing exec’s bright idea to round off a ’62 Columbia christmas LP with their most famous musician. Dorough’s lyric was in itself witty and may have worked with another musician, but the clash of styles overwhelms any merit the track may have had.

      • And if you came up to me on the street, as it were, to put that case, I’d be statistically bound to agree with you ;-)
        I reckon though it definitely has something, it has a very nice vulnerable edge and it’s 100% pop song rather than some wierd pseudo-genre mix. Wham certainly had a lot more substance musically than most of today’s manufactured groups.

    • Last Christmas can get on of my votes. I was never much into Wham, but have always had time for George Michael. I thought he was about the only singer who really came up to scratch performing at the Queen memorial concert for Freddie.

  3. *PS And just to confirm my “man in the street” status, I can confirm that Reflektor elicits zero emotional response from me.

  4. Bah humbug ;)

    I own one CD of Christmas Hits that we used to play in the car when the children were younger and we were off visiting relatives, well it’s only once a year that it comes out and whilst there is some dire stuff on it there is one tune that gets me every time:

    Don’t forget The Christmas we get, we deserve

  5. in a crowded Wheatsheaf on christmas eve in the days when the juke box was 10p a shot, someone about to leave for the next pub on a crawl through town shoved in a few quid – the same song over and over for two bleedin’ hours – not technically an xmas single Rod’s Sailing is burnt into me memory

  6. For some strange reason I really like Chris de Burgh’s Spaceman Came Travelling, which is odd as I can’t stand anything else by him. I think it goes back to my late teens and early to mid 20s where a strict Xmas Eve tradition was followed whereby me and all my old friends in Liverpool would spend the entire day on a pub crawl around Woolton and Gateacre – the early part of the day was my favourite when the pubs where fairly quiet aside from the hardcore drinkers, and of course, in each pub, the obligatory Xmas CDs were on, but this song seemed to follow us around every pub and always be on.

    Bit I suspect that is true of all the songs on those albums, but something to do with the frame of my mind perhaps made this one stand out – I think it somehow perfectly encapsulates that feeling you get about Xmas when you are a bit older, a mixture of happiness but with a strong underlying current of melancholic nostalgia yet still with a hint of the wonder of it all, which I suspect I first started feeling around this time.

    Plus unlike a lot of the mainstream Xmas hits, it is very much in a minor key which makes it quite unusual.

  7. I love Christmas songs, the stranger the better, from Wing to Strawberry Shortcake via Santa Claus conquers the Martians but there’s one standout for me.
    From George Lucas’ “Star Wars” Christmas Special ( who can forget the sight of Chewbaca’s “mom” in her pinny ?)

  8. I have to say, I rather like:

    Stop The Cavalry
    Fairytale of New York
    Christmas Wrapping
    A Winter’s Tale (yes, the David Essex one)

    I can pretty much do without most other Xmas songs, especially anything touched by the hand of Cliff. Although Mariah’s Xmas single is about the only one of her songs I can stomach. (Don’t tell magicman.) And I heard Leona Lewis’s one the other day, which isn’t too bad (in a sub-Mariah kind of way).

    Christmas singles should never appear on albums though (unless they’re Christmas albums). Even best ofs. Even if they’re the band’s biggest hit. Who wants to stumble across a Christmas song in mid-August?

  9. 1 – don’t go shopping
    2 – don’t put on the radio
    3 – don’t watch TV

    then play in moderation:

    Perky side:
    Zombie Christmas - Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler 3:45
    I Want An Alien For Christmas - Hillary And The Democrats 3:01
    ‘Zat You, Santa Claus // The Heavy Remix - Louis Armstrong 2:57
    Jesus Saves, I Spend - St. Vincent 3:57
    Jesus The Reindeer - Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler 1:46
    Teenage Christmas - Eux Autres 2:35
    Hey Santa - The Birthday Girl vs Alexander’s Festival Hall 3:31
    Real Snow - Withered Hand 3:21
    Good Morning Blues // Real Tuesday Weld Clerkenwell Remix - Count Basie 3:55
    Black Christmas - Poly Styrene 3:28
    Xmas Rapping - Kurtis Blow 3:39

    maudlin side:
    White Nights (Psychic TV Cover) - The Golden Filter 4:37
    White Tree - Karaocake 4:31
    Sandwich Day - Owl & Mouse 2:45
    Midnight Mass - The Understudies 4:00
    Merry Christmas to the Drunks, Merry Christmas to the Lovers - Ballboy 3:08
    Walking In The Air - Hong Kong In The 60s 2:57
    Little Drummer Boy - Lindstrom 42:42

    yes Lindstrom IS that long (you don’t care once you are that low down in the bottle).
    obviously many have tried to beat it – but Fairytale of new york is perfect – and I too think Last Christmas is pop perfection..

    I could be lucky; from the age of 13 to 31 I spent Christmas day alone, in bed, in the dark – perfectly content to ignore it. So now I get to enjoy it without all the jaded memories of uncomfortable days past.

  10. I collect Christmas music so that I can put l-o-n-g compilations together that mean I never have to listen to an endless loop of:

    Slade-Cliff-Wizzard-BeachBoys-Elton-BoneyM-Essex-Crosby/Bowie-BandAid-Mud-Wombles-Shaky-Mathis

    If I get a chance I’ll either ‘Box or Spill a playlist of oddities for you.

    Here’s one of my favourite seasonal instrumentals – perfect for that late evening hour after the kids have finally gone to sleep ….

  11. I rather like HMHB’s It’s Cliched to be Cynical at Christmas . And. of course Katzenjammer’s Norwegian Christmas song We Light Our Lanternswhich I sent to the Christmas earworms last year. Here’s their live version of White Christmas..

    Can’t stand Wonderful Christmas Time even though I’m not a Paul hater. And I think Bono was right the first time when he told Midge Ure that “thank god it’s them instead of you” was a horrible line to put in a song about famine.

    nb – I’ve told this story before but the year after Gary Glitter was first convicted I was doing some Christmas shopping in Hamleys, the kid’s toy store in Central London.
    Somebody had neglected to remove Gary’s Rock and Roll Christmas from the compilation tape/CD which seemed like a faux pas to say the least. They played it three times while I was there. Oh dear.

  12. Loads of great suggestions here. I love Wham, The Pogues/Kirsty, The Pretenders, Christmas Wrapping, Jonah Lewie – really can’t stick Johnny Mathis, Bowie etc.

    There’s a great Belle & Sebastian song (Are You Coming Over For Christmas) and I intend to spend much of the next few weeks listening to Sufjan Stevens’ beautiful home-made Christmas collections. I also love James Taylor’s take on Have Your Self A Merry Little Christmas and the Phil Spector ‘Christmas Gift’ album is always a favourite in the Toffee household. However, in the spirit of this post, I’ll give you my personal Christmas guilty pleasure…

  13. Which Christmas record do I hate? ALL OF THEM. And Mrs Abahachi loves them, and once again has managed to ferret out the That’s What I Love About Inane Christmas Songs cd and the Biggest Bestest Longest Christmas Album Ever cd and all the others from the place where I had ‘left’ them (with plausible deniability; I certainly can’t be caught actually hiding the damned things) last year. And so it begins again.

    Okay, one has a duty to make distinctions. If I could erase one Christmas song from the historical record, along with everyone involved in its production, manufacture and distribution, and all the radio stations that ever played it, it would be sodding Jona Lewie. Meanwhile, I actually quite like hearing the Pogues and Mariah Carey every year. Once each.

  14. For some reason I really like Slade and the Pogues and rate the Springsteen as the best ever but can’t stand any of the others

  15. Forget the hate, let’s share the love :
    ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ by Charles Brown which i first on the NME’s ‘Little Imp’ comp.

    & August Darnells’ ‘Christmas On Riverside Drive‘ that has every Christmas cliche in the book

    Agree with the Wham/Pogues/Waitresses & you can add The Ronettes/Darlene Love – the rest is pish

  16. The first Christmas I ever spent in Finland was almost free of most of the songs mentioned above. And I missed them, Oh, how I missed them, I even missed complaining about them.

    Favourite seasonal song: Let it Snow. And let’s have a death metal version:

  17. Rudolph & The Gang – Here Comes Fatty Claus (1982) NSFW
    Late-period “adults only” country platter, which I once proudly owned, that can still give me the giggles. The 45 gave no visual clues that it was not fit for airplay and I wonder if any radio stations ever played it unwittingly. Just like Napoleon XIV, the B-side is the A-Side played backwards!

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