This will be my first Christmas spent in the UK. The cost of a plane ticket home was too damn high. Thankfully my boyfriend has the most welcoming family in all of Yorkshire, so I’ll have a place to stay. Since this was my first holiday season across the pond, though, I have definitely picked up on the not-so-subtle differences in celebration styles.
This year I will be eating mince pies in Barnsley instead of enjoying my family’s “traditional” German dishes back home in two feet of snow. I’ll certainly miss my friends and family, but it’s going to be pretty great to enjoy Christmas in a completely new way. So to celebrate the differences of my two favourite homes, I have produced the best, the worst, and the absolute weirdest holiday tunes from both countries.
The UK loves a Christmas number one. No one can explain to me why it matters, but becoming the best selling Christmas single in the land is important. Some how. Occasionally X-Factor winners get the title (like this year’s number one, Sam Bailey) and other times the Brits rebel and chose something completely bizarre (“Killing in the Name”). But one that I rather like a lot is Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody.” The bouncy 1973 tune was meant to cheer up a British family at Christmas when the economy was rather shit. The result is this glam rock gem.
Once I got on a roll, I couldn’t pick what song was the best Christmas song from the States. It was a toss up and Chuck Berry picked tails, but The Beach Boy’s “Little Saint Nick” is absolutely infectious. The shuffle beat makes it a pretty groovy song for the holidays. And really, what is better than a song about Santa taking off in his sleigh like a boy in his convertible?
The bad are really bad here. Proceed with caution. “Mistletoe and Wine” by Cliff Richard and after a lot of thought, “Christmas Shoes” by NewSong win the title of possibly the worst Christmas songs (or actually, worst songs ever). Both have a lot in common: they are over-the-top, sappier than a sugar maple and both think using creepy children as back-up singers is a good idea.
After hundreds of years of Christmas music, musicians need to get a little creative, right? The results can often be a little over the top. Some are like the tune by American couple Elmo and Patsy. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is not what is typically considered a “nice” Christmas song. It depicts a family gathering in which Grandma gets pissed on eggnog and gets run-over in the street by Santa and his reindeer because Santa doesn’t know how to drive. Makes sense.
Now the UK selection is a bit difficult to describe as a foreigner. “Christmas in Blobbyland” is a song that is almost tolerable if it didn’t include the frightening Mr. Blobby, a character from a popular BBC program called Noel’s House Party. But it does include Mr. Blobby so the holidays will also include some nightmares. Sugar plums are less likely to be dancing in your head than ever.