[REVISED ever so slightly on Dec. 17, 2022]
Fascinating to read in the Milwaukee paper the other day that no Christmas song has been a hit since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in 1994.
My pal JB over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ also took note of that story, which prompted him to ponder the state of Christmas radio then and now.
All that said, there certainly are some Christmas songs that should have hit the charts in the last 17 years. Here are some of them.
“Who Needs Mistletoe,” Julie Roberts, from “Who Needs Mistletoe,” 2011. A country song every bit as filthy as Clarence Carter’s great “Back Door Santa.”
“Oi To The World,” Severe, from the wonderful Punk Rock Advent Calendar, 2009 (gone by 2022). Well, it’s reverent as far as UK punks go.
(Reader “bean” left a comment that The Vandals’ original from 1996 was far superior. As always, you be the judge.)
“We Three Kings,” Blondie, a 2009 holiday release. Always fun to find Debbie Harry under the tree. Always fun to hear Blondie’s classic sound.
“Merry Christmas Baby,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008. Blistering vocals and blistering blues guitar. Move over, fellas.
“Silent Night,” the Blackhearts and special guests, from “A Blackheart Christmas,” 2008. Some sound bites from that year’s presidential race make it a bit of a time capsule. It once had a bit of a valedictory feel. Now it has the feel of opportunities lost.
“Silent Night,” Bootsy Collins, from “Christmas Is 4 Ever,” 2006. A sweet mashup of reverent narration, funk, R&B and gospel.
“Winter (Basse Dance),” Blackmore’s Night, from “Winter Carols,” 2006. If you can get past that Ritchie Blackmore no longer rocks out as he did in Deep Purple and Rainbow and not cede all the elegant guitar work to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you might dig this instrumental.
“Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming),” Melanie Thornton, from “Memories,” a 2003 import comp. This song was used in a Coca-Cola ad after the R&B singer’s death in 2001, but its back story transcends marketing.
“It’s Christmas And I Miss You,” .38 Special, from “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night,” 2001. A gentle ballad reflecting the loneliness the season can bring. It’s co-written by guitarist Don Barnes and our friend Jim Peterik.
“Little Drummer Boy,” the Dandy Warhols, from “Fruitcake,” 1997, a Capitol Records promo EP that 25 years later is nowhere to be found on the internet. In which the Little Drummer Boy takes a psychedelic trip.
“Santa Claus Is Comin’ (In A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train),” the Tractors, from “Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas,” 1995. This fine bit of country swing was a modest hit on country radio in in 1995 and again in 1998. After all, it’s just their 1994 hit “Baby Likes To Rock It” retooled with new lyrics for Christmas.
“Soul Christmas,” Graham Parker and Nona Hendryx, from “Christmas Cracker,” 1994. If there were any justice, this scorcher would have been the hit that year.