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Kevin Allen's Top 10 Christmas Songs of All Time

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Like most sporty pundits, I have opinions. And from time to time I like to share these opinions in an open forum as a means to spark lively debate.

It is this sentiment that prompted me to spend 10 minutes compiling what I think is the definitive, end-all/be-all top-ten list of Christmas songs ever compiled.

Now, before you go saying things in the comment section like "You left off 'Jingle Bells' you total moron," just remember that it is Christmas and while arguments could be made for why I am or am not a moron, 'complete' is just a bit excessive.

That said, I wouldn't be a very good sports pundit if I didn't preface my list by letting everyone know that I'm right and they're wrong. And anyone who disagrees with me is a total idiot. But seriously ... please do feel free to disagree with me and each other.

So here's the list of Kevin Allen's Almighty, Indisputable, Divinely Conceived Top Ten List of the Greatest Christmas Songs of All Time -- And No, 'Jingle Bells' Is Not One Of Them:
#10 -- Walking in a Winter Wonderland" -- The title of this song is so optimistic. Just the thought that anyone could mistake sleet, slush, ice, whipping winds and general winter misery for anything even remotely resembling a 'wonderland' is, to me, hilarious.

#9 -- "We Three Kings" -- I never learned the real lyrics to this song. It did teach me, however, that trying to smoke a rubber cigar is not a good idea. Because in all likelihood, it will have been loaded and it most certainly will have exploded.

#8 -- "Little Drummer Boy" -- Any song that brings David Bowie and Bing Crosby together must be badass.


#7 -- "Sleigh Ride" -- As an advocate for all things onomatopoeia, the words ring-a-lin, jing, jing, jing-a-lin strike an emotional chord. Also, isn't that just a lovely sentiment -- it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you -- man, I hope someone says that to me some day. Maybe not those words exactly ... but the sentiment. Yeah. The sentiment.

#6 -- "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" -- As a kid I loved this song because it sounds just as good when you shout it as when you actually try to sing it. Plus, the idea that not only do I have a king, but someone wants to bring good tidings to both me and my king -- that's just solid gold.


#5 -- "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" -- You may not realize it, but for some people Christmas is a huge downer. Not for me. John Lennon's potentially depressing ditty is a reminder to me that I'm really lucky. For that same reason, if the Verve's "Lucky Man" were a Christmas song, it would be on this list.


#4 -- "Silent Night" -- Every year this song gets entirely overplayed. Usually I gloss over it and don't pay it much mind. But sometimes -- with the right crooner or songstress at the helm -- this song will choke me up. It only happens about once a Holiday season, but when it does -- wooo boy! Waterworks.


#3 -- "Oh Holy Night" -- The first verse of this one is a real snoozer, but then it gets to the line, "Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!" And I'm hooked. It's such a theatrical image -- kind of like Leo DiCaprio in "Romeo and Juliet" where he yells "I am fortune's fool" with the rain pouring. Yep...kinda like that.


#2 -- "Christmas Time's A-coming" -- You probably didn't see this one coming. For anyone in the Allen/Sullivan household, however, this is no surprise. We wore grooves into the Emmylou Harris Christmas album, and this song will always remind me of Batavia, the house I grew up in, our remarkable dog Winston and being showered with an obscene amount of presents. I'm sure it will do the same for you if it's your first time hearing it.

#1 -- "Baby It's Cold Outside" -- As much as I'm convinced that cold weather and snow is God's personal campaign to smite me, I do enjoy being indoors with good people. This song is all about that. Like Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" it's a work of art that adapts to its environment seamlessly, providing a harmonious segue from the man-made world to the outdoorsy ruins that Papa Winter insists on creating each year.

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Carol of the Bells?

Did "Home Alone" mean nothing?

Kevin Replies: I excluded all songs that contain people's names -- Carol included.

favourite christmas songs
1 all i want for christmas is you[mariah carey]
2 last christmas[cascada]
3 i wish it could be christmas everyday[wizard]
4 a moment like this[leona]
5 merry xmas everbody [slade]
6 last christmas[wham]
7 fairytale of new york[the pogues]
8 rudolph[destinys child]
9 santa claus is coming to town[mariah carey]
10 do they know its christmas[band aid 20

Kevin Replies: A little heavy on the contemporary side ... I like it!

What I have learned from this is that your idea of a perfect winter day would be receiving an invite from Leonardo DiCaprio to take a "sleigh ride" on the comfort of your own living room couch, when he offers you a rubber cigar, which you deftly decline. Sounds like a real treat, Kev. Really says, "Tidings of Joy," doesn't it?

Kevin Replies: Wow, my anonymous friend. Am I so transparent?

Lovely list, Kevin. A few notes: pretty sure it's "good tidings we bring to you and your kin." Not everyone has a king, but pretty much everyone has kin.

And "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is about a dude wanting to get laid. If she goes home, he gets none. Maybe that's why you like it, but you just didn't want to admit it.

Merry Christmas, my friend!

Kevin Replies: Kasia, Kasia, Kasia. Clearly it's 'king.' It was written in Medieval Times ... the one in Schaumburg. And as far as 'Baby It's Cold Outside' goes ... please don't try to inject perversion into my beloved Christmas songs. It has nothing to do with matters of the flesh and everything to do with mid-century modern architecture.

I agree with you on Christmas Time's A-coming. It reminds me of Christmastime in my childhood, although in my house it was the Raffi version on the Raffi Christmas cassette tape that was constantly played throughout the month of December each year. I can still hear them bells ringin' ringin'. Also, 2,000 miles by the Pretenders is on my top list of Christmas songs, because it holds up as a great, if sad, song on its own outside of the holiday season.

Kevin Replies: Good call on the Pretenders, Jackie. That gets me thinking of another list ... top songs for the holidays that aren't explicitly holiday-related. Another John Lennon song -- "Give Peace A Chance" -- comes to mind. Maybe some Fleetwood Mac? "Never Going Back Again"? Interesting....

Great list Kevin! Though I'm not sure some of the clips you selected are the best renditions. I mean seriously JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE's version of O Holy Night?! Ugh!

If you like Emmylou (and really, what person of musical taste DOESN'T?!) you should check out Martina McBride's Christmas CD. She has a fantastic version of O Holy Night, and the pipes to pull it off!

Merry Christmas! (yeah, I said Merry Christmas - I don't DO "politically correct")...Oh, alright FINE! Happy Holidays too!

Little Drummer Boy has always kinda creeped me out. David Bowie and Bing Crosby certainly don't make it any less creepy.

kevin replies: This from a man who snubbed Matt Lauer!

I want to buy Walking in a Winter Wonderland, recommended by Allen. Who sings it?

Kevin Replies: Many well-known singers have recorded versions of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." The Ali & AJ version is solid. So is the one by Liz Phair. For a country twist, try Brooks & Dunn, Randy Travis or Willie Nelson. But recently there's Jason Mraz, who has a version that's gotten a ton of airplay this season. Believe it or not, Radiohead has also recorded a version. It's worth it for the novelty.

Just ringing in here on my thoughts and a few questions.
1. WHITE CHRISTMAS. It's a classic. Nobody does it like Bing
2. BLUE CHRISTMAS. Nobody does it like Elvis
4. SANTA BABY. Nobody, not even Madonna, does it like Eartha
5. FELIZ NAVID. Yes, it's simple...but totally contagious

Also, O Holy Night...nobody does it like Josh Groban. White Christmas by the Drifters (with the "doop doop" in it) is a classic version, too.

Anybody know of a complete list of Christmas songs and carols along with the release date? I read somewhere that the average person on the street can recognize (hum at least a few bars, sing at least a few of the lyrics) for more than 100 Christmas songs. Most of us, me included, had no idea there are so many until we start counting them out.

Thanks Kevin!

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on December 19, 2008 12:04 PM.

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