I usually get pretty grump around this time of year. It used to be that I was easily irritated by the flood of Christmas music, but it’s not so much that right now. I don’t even really hear the music anymore. In fact, this year I have a tiny list of holiday-inspired songs that I actually like. But I admit that these are songs I listen to all year round.
Cocteau Twins – Frosty the Snowman (1992)
Liz Fraiser’s voice could sell me on anything, including a snowman who runs around with little kids. But as far as (forgotten?) Christmas classics go, this really is my favorite. I like the following bits about this song from their history:
Simon explained “Frosty…”: “There’s a Christmas record that comes out on Capitol Records (the Cocteaus’ US label) every few years. And they were trying to get all their bands to do a cover version of a Christmas song. I didn’t think that’s what it was at the time. I thought it would be like sitting next to Frank Sinatra. But in fact it would’ve been, y’know, Skinny Puppy, doing ‘Merry Xmas Everybody.’ Anyway they’d said, Would you do one? And Liz suggested—it must have been for a joke—’Frosty The Snowman.’ Then Robin went, Yeah, good title, people will think it’s a normal Cocteau Twins song with a title like that.”
“Once we’d got the music down, I wrote down the lyrics on a piece of paper and said to Liz, Hey, look at these, and we were laughing away. As we were going through it I was listening to Liz’s reactions and thinking, this is never gonna get done. She was going, ‘He’s a very happy soul’—me sing that?! No way, I could not in a million years… ‘with a broomstick in his ‘—you’ve gotta be fucking kidding!'”
“I just didn’t think she’d do it.” [Volume 5, 1992]
Cristina – Things Fall Apart (1981)
” ‘Something has to last,’ she said. ‘Once a year, let’s have the past’. ” One of my very favorite Cristina songs, this one hits the nail on the head.
Was (Not Was) – Christmas Time in the Motor City (1981)
Don Was of Was (Not Was) produced Cristina’s 1984 album Sleep If Off. Love the ZE Christmas Record. This is a funky Christmas unemployment groove.
Yoko Kanno/Maaya Sakamoto – Kissing the Christmas Killer (2002)
I’m a big fan Yoko and Maaya. I used to keep a picture of Maaya on my wall and know more of her songs than I care to admit. I like that this one is a bit haunting.
Gloria Estefan – Christmas Through Your Eyes (1993)
Even though this song was released on a Christmas album, it’s not specifically about Christmas as far as I’m concerned. She’s just talking about how she wants to live vicariously through the innocence of her children. You could easily swap out the word “Christmas” for “Disney Land” or “Flying Spaghetti Monster” and it would have essentially the same effect…