For those living far away from loved ones, the long drive home at Christmas is REALLY the start of the festive season. While kids get Christmas underway by eating mountains of chocolate, mothers furiously write cards on their lap and fathers mumble and grumble about all the money spent on tat this year, there’s only one way to unite a Christmas charabanc… a good old fashioned Christmas sing-song. Here at VCARS.co.uk, our Communications guy Paul Reaney has put together his Top Ten Christmas songs to drive home to. If you’re into Spotify, subscribe to the VCARS.co.uk Driving Home For Christmas and you’ll get our top ten… VCARS.co.uk – Driving Home for Christmas
Has Paul missed your favourite? Do you have an in-car tradition we need to know about? Is there one that just doesn’t belong on the list? Let Paul know at firstname.lastname@example.org or send him a song at Spotify.
10. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Jackson 5 (1970)
This has got to be one of the ultimate singalong-a-Christmas car songs! Loving the backing vocals, and Michael’s voice never sounded more full of joy. Originally recorded in 1934, the song was part of the Jackson 5’s 1970 Christmas Album.
9. Mary’s Boy Child – Boney M (1978)
Oh, so it wasn’t them singing. Get over it. This cover of Harry Belafonte’s 1956 hit DRIPS Christmas. The song was rush released in early November but proved so popular, it stayed in the charts right through until Christmas Day.
8. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney (1979)
Old Macca likes a Christmas Song, doesn’t he? There was Pipes of Peace, he’s just ‘Done Chestnuts’ as he described it, and this. Actually, McCartney has confirmed he’s really quite embarrassed about this song – the fact that he earns around £250,000 every year from it being played might make him feel like he’s having a wonderful Christmastime.
7. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues & Kirsty McColl (1987)
Speaking out to the punk in us all that privately hates Christmas, Fairytale of New York regularly tops polls for the best Christmas song of all time. The narrator (Shane MacGowan) sings a story of an Irish immigrant on Christmas Eve. The immigrant is reminiscing about previous Christmases while he sleeps off his drunkenness in a NY prison cell. When a fellow drunk cellmate (Kirsty McColl) joins in, they duet about how alcohol and drugs have created some great Christmas times but ultimately robbed them of their lives. The song finished #2 in the 1987 Christmas Day listing; they were beaten to top spot by The Pet Shop Boys and ‘Always On My Mind’. When Shane MacGowan was asked by Jonathan Ross to comment on the fact, he retorted: “We were beaten by two queens and a drum machine.”
6. Walking In The Air – Aled Jones (1982)
Before he looked like an excited teenager on the couches of GMTV or whatever it’s called now, Aled Jones was a cherubic welsh chorister with the voice of an angel. Despite Jones’ ability to build a whole career on a Christmas one-hit-wonder, the version song used in the film The Snowman was not actually sung by Jones. The song was performed by Peter Auty, a choirboy from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Auty also sang the line ‘This Is The Age Of The Train!’.
5. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Bing Crosby (1951)
Originally written in 1951 by Broadway composer Meredith Wilson, this brilliant song was almost wrecked by Asda’s use in a Christmas ad. The song was originally sung by Bing Crosby but it wasn’t until 1986 that Johnny Mathis (isn’t he the voice of Christmas?) that the song really met with modern, public acclaim.
4. When A Child is Born – Johnny Mathis (1976)
The song was originally written in Italian in 1972 before being translated into English four years later. The song actually makes no reference to Christmas but because of the mention of a tiny star, When A Child is Born has become associated with the yule. It reached UK Number Ozone on December 25th 1976.
3. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid (1984)
Think of this as an Eighties version of The Avengers Assemble. They all sang on it: Bono, Paul Young, George Michael, Simon Le Bon, David Bowie, Boy George, Tony Hadley, Sting, Paul McCartney Phil Collins and Marilyn. Hang on, Marilyn? Do They Know It’s Christmas was a juggernaut of a song, raising over £10m for the Ethopian famine. Boy George was so megafamous at the time that Geldof called him while George was in bed in New York and demanded he got on Concorde to fly in and sing on the track. He arrived at 6pm and was recorded being bitchy about George Michael’s vocals.
2. Last Christmas – George Michael (1984)
On the subject of George Michael… George, George, George, where did it all go wrong? One minute you’re at the top of the pop (Christmas) tree, the next you’re crashing into Snappy Snaps and spoiling the Olympic closing ceremony. Last Christmas was released at the same time as Band Aid, which kept it off the top spot – it became the biggest selling song not to reach the #1 spot. Incredibly, in Germany the song is the most popular Christmas song ever – entering the German singles chart every year since 1997!
1. Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea (1988, 2007)
Not a massive hit when it was originally released for crooner Chris Rea but it’s become a quiet anthem for December motorways ever since. The record was covered (awfully) in 2007 by X-Factor robot Stacey Solomon when Iceland used it for their Christmas commercials. Rea wrote the song in the car when driving from London back to Middlesbrough and describes the song as a ‘carol in a car’. Perfect slice of M1 revelry.