Xmas4Christmas songs have been a European and particularly American tradition for centuries, and Northern Hemisphere images of snow, sleigh bells, pine trees, reindeers, Jack Frost, mistletoe, chestnuts roasting on open fires, abound – nary a barbie, bikini, gum tree, seafood platter, or kangaroo in sight, but let’s get into the festive spirit crosbyChristmas music has evolved over time from the religious hymns of Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Good King Wenceslas, The Little Dummer Boy  to embrace the Great American Songbook of Christmas classics  in the period just before and after WW2, when Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Eartha Kitt, Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, and others all recorded classic versions of seasonal hits, often taken from the  scores of popular movies and live musical theatre.elvis 1The 1950’s saw the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll and early rock/rockabilly songs hit the charts in December – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee), Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms), Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry), Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley), along with the silky sounds of Harry Belafonte (Mary’s Boy Child) and Johnny Mathis (It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas).phil spectorBy the 1960’s the tradition of singers releasing Christmas albums was now getting into full swing, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Roy Orbison, even Phil Spector, and many more, jumped on the sleigh ride to seasonal success. But local Christmas hits were thin on the ground here in Australia, Rolf Harris produced a genuine seasonal hit with Six White Boomers in 1960, but our local Carols By Candlelight and Christmas Pageants continued to feature unrelentingly snowy songs of Europe and North America.mariah careyThe major shift in Christmas music over the decades has been the emergence of more secular songs at the expense of traditional hymns, so that songs like White Christmas (Bing Crosby), Last Christmas (Wham), All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey), It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year (Andy Williams), and Step Into Christmas (Elton John), are far and away the biggest-selling seasonal hits; but there has been a more perverse genre of Christmas songs to emerge that are far removed from the tinsel-tree cuteness and the glorification of religion, of past songs.john lennonMerry Christmas (War Is Over) (John Lennon and Yoko Ono), 7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night (Simon and Garfunkel), A Fairtytale of New York (The Pogues with Kirsty McColl), Bad Sharon (Robbie Williams and Tyson Fury), Back Door Santa (Clarence Carter), Christmas Duel (Cyndi Lauper and the Hives), and then there are those that are just plain weird/bad – Santa Came On a Nuclear Missile (Heather Noel), Santa Claus Is a Black Man (Teddy and Akim Vann), and Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)(Free Design).paul kelly10So what makes a good Christmas song, it should be heartfelt, meaningful, original and remind us that Christmas is about goodwill, charity, and family, so on that note I will leave you with the 4TR Baker’s Dozen of Best Christmas Songs. On Thursday we will feature another Baker’s Dozen of Christmas Songs that just missed out, and four Australian songs that fit neatly into the Christmas season including How To Make Gravy (Paul Kelly), The First of May (Bee Gees), Six White Boomers (Rolf Harris) and (I Want A) Rockin’ Christmas – Ol’ 55.Xmas1Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from 4TR to all our readers, thank you for your support during the year, we look forward to re-commencing Ausmusic posts to the blog site in late January 2020.

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