I love Christmas as much as the next turkey dinner-stuffed blob of atoms, but the yuletide hymns clogging the radio make me wish that Jesus was born on October the nineteenth in a four-bedroom detached house in Chippenham, to spare us the sax-parping, children’s choirs and Mariah arseing Carey. On the other hand, if Christmas did not exist in its current form, I’m sure some other reason – the birth of Steve Jobs, perhaps – would be concocted by retailers in an effort to batter every man, woman and child into credit card-busting submission.
While my music tastes may be decidedly ‘indie’ (boys with guitars and a lot of yelling is often my scene), I have to admit that I love Christmas songs. Adore them, in fact. Yes, even Mariah and her treacly ode to devotion in which she would rather unwrap the man of her dreams than a new diamond bracelet (mad bitch). I love that tune about the Royal Artillery with a chorus that goes ‘der der der dum dum’. Shane McGowan and Kirstie MacColl capture the essence of December 25th better than anyone: scumbags, maggots and cheap lousy faggots included. I ignore the hypocrisy of a crowd of rich pop stars asking ordinary members of the public to “feed the world” while they globetrot pumped full of cocaine and luxuriating in five star hotels.
I see Noddy Holder and force all thoughts of garden gnomes from the peripheries of my mind in case I am distracted from the sheer joy of hearing him yodel ‘It’s Chriiiiiistmas!!!”. The ear-shatteringly high-pitched vocals on ‘Walking In The Air’ fill me with joy, and not once do I exclaim that Aled Jones should “bloody well grow a pair!” All of these feelings, however, share one thing in common. I only believe them in the week leading up to the big day, never earlier. Although at all times, Cliff Richard is about as welcome as a residential trip to Guantanamo Bay.
When Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ is plastered over commercial radio without the Gregorian calendar even ticking over to December, it’s deleterious to the whole enterprise. It means that just at the point we should all be getting genuinely excited about opening a pair of pyjamas on Christmas morning and pretending to be really happy about it, we can’t bear to hear the soundtrack to the festivities for one more second, lest Dad smashes the radio with his newly acquired set of tools.
Heart FM, the colostomy bag of the radio world, takes pride in playing the likes of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ (which begs the response, “I would if you’d quit playing Bing Crosby before I’ve even got the smell of gunpowder out of my best jacket”) a few days into November. Things are ramped up mercilessly, until the days before Christmas are a non-stop Xmas hit parade that under most definitions of torture, would put radio DJs in the dock at the fucking Hague.
If you are partial to bouts of insanity, you have the option of listening to Christmas tunes all year round, because obviously there is nothing more satisfying than driving along Route 66 (or the less glamorous A145 in the UK) on a hot summer’s day, Cadillac pounding down the highway, ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ blasting from the stereo. I don’t mean putting ‘Now That’s What I Call Sleigh Bells’ on the stereo either because that would be too easy. Believe it or not, there are a number of dedicated radio stations that play nothing but Christmas songs.
Who said the internet was a bad idea? You know that the world is taking a tentative step in the right direction when you can listen to Boney M’s ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ at any time of your choosing, interspersed with adverts for roof insulators. Type ‘Christmas radio station’ into Google and the search engine has a mild e-orgasm. You’ve got Forever Christmas Radio, who proudly announce that “2012 marks the first time we have been broadcasting all year round”. This is not said with an ounce of shame, as it should be, perhaps with promises that the radio station’s owners will be whisked away to an institution in due course. No, there’s millions of the buggers.
In case your tastes are a little more niche, there are plenty of other options, including a Smooth Christmas Jazz station, which must have the world’s smallest playlist unless they create mash-ups, pairing Miles Davis and ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ while jazz purists foam at the mouth, decrying the desecration of a legend.
As I say, I love Christmas songs on the day. Mum’s got a turntable and we play all the classics while we eat burnt potatoes and I neck a bottle of rosé Lambrusco, a 2.6% wine that lies at the outer edge of my family’s edginess. They’re cheesy and rubbish and I love them.
Today is the last day in November. Believe me Nat King Cole, chestnuts are not roasting on my open fire any time soon, so piss off.