The 1980s has been voted as the best decade for producing Christmas hits according to a new study commission by blinkbox.
Over a third (36%) voted the 80’s – the decade which brought us shoulder pads, perms and dodgy denim – into the top spot with the 1987 hit from The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s ‘Fairytale in New York’ voted the nation’s favourite Christmas song.
In the battle of the decades, the 1970s received a quarter of the votes (25%), followed by the 1990s with one in ten (10%). Fourth spot went to the 1960s (7%) and in fifth place was the 1950s (5%). In a blow to modern pop, the results suggest that Brits think the new millennium has been the least successful for festive hits, with just 2% voting to support the 2000s and less than one percent opting for the 2010s.
This could be music to the ears of more mature artists ‘ as when Brits were asked if they preferred the original versions or more recent covers of Christmas hits, they unanimously voted in favour of the originals.
Over three-quarters (77%) of respondents said Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ was better than Katy Perry’s cover, which received 1 in 10 of the votes (10%). Over two-thirds (71%) favoured Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ to High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale’s version, picking up just 8% of the votes. Over half (59%) preferred Eartha Kitt’s sultry rendition of ‘Santa Baby’, compared to that of The Pussycat Dolls which picked up 16% of the votes.
It was also revealed that over half (53%) of Brits say it is only acceptable to play festive songs from today.
The boffins at blinkbox Music and London College of Music, produced a long list of key characteristics typically found in Christmas pop songs, to pinpoint what makes us love these festive hits. When the list was put to the public, a track which was ‘easy to sing along’ to was voted the most important element ‘ gaining over a third of the votes (34%). Next in importance was the inclusion of ‘festive sounds like sleigh bells or a choir’, amassing just over a fifth of the votes (22%).
Just trailing behind were ‘Christmas references in the lyrics’ (18%). Brits said the least two important elements were ‘the person singing it’ (6%) and the song’s ‘cheesiness’ (5%).
1. The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl ‘ ‘Fairytale in New York’ (23%)
‘Christmas songs rely on a sense of nostalgia to hit the mark. This song captures that sentimentality we crave at Christmas. In contrast, there is a rough and ready edge to the song with humorous lyrics. In many ways this is an untypical Christmas song, which may go some way to explain its popularity. It perfectly captures the feeling of nostalgia without sounding too corny or staged.’
2. Mariah Carey ‘ ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ (12%)
‘Interesting in that this is more of a love song. There is little mention of baby Jesus or even celebrating at Christmas. It has mass appeal, in the way it connects with the child like excitement of receiving gifts at Christmas. Its scores extra points for over the top use of jingle bells, sleigh bells, tubular bells.’
3. Slade ‘ ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ (10%)
‘Released in 1973, this is thought by PRS (UK royalty collection society) to be the most heard song in the world. Part of the appeal of this song is the out and out fun factor. The distinctive opening vocal offers us an excuse to crack open the sherry and indulge in some seasonal excess.’
4. Wham! ‘ ‘Last Christmas’ (7%)
‘Another romance song. Only the title has any reference to Christmas. This song benefits most from a catchy melody. The synth lines are suitably cheesy and there is the customary sleigh bells to support the tune. The nostalgia theme is present throughout this song, which is a popular theme from the top ten list.’
5. Wizzard ‘ ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ (7%)
‘This song is positively brimming with excitement and fun. The innocent chorus lyric has a childlike quality, which embraces the holidays and reminds us to ‘get excited’. The December grind up until Christmas can be hard going, but this song is sure to bring back the fun and get you into that holiday spirit.’
6. Chris Rea ‘ ‘Driving Home For Christmas’ (5%)
‘This song wins by keeping it simple. It has identified a simple theme, which connects us all to Christmas: The simple act of going home for Christmas. With this comes nostalgia and feel good vibes. The smooth vocal performance enhances this and offers us an antidote to some of the more over the top Christmas songs.’
7. Band Aid ‘ ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ (1984) (4%)
‘Despite some mixed opinions on the 2014 re-record of this song, the original 1984 release was a moment when people came together as a force for good. Less we forget, Christmas is also about sharing and helping those less fortunate than ourselves. This song is unique in the list, in that it brings the focus away from excess and celebration and back to the ‘spirit of Christmas’.’
8. Eartha Kitt ‘ ‘Santa Baby’ (3%)
‘This song has nostalgia written all over it. There is a cheeky charm to Eartha Kitt’s vocal: ‘hurry down the chimney tonight’. It also resides in a slow, easy-going tempo, which captures a relaxed fire-side vibe.’
9. Boney M ‘ ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ (3%)
‘This sees the traditional Christmas song given a disco makeover. It manages to update the Christmas carol format, with a driving beat and a fair serving of cheese. For many people this song is more closely related to the true spirit of Christmas with its traditional lyrical themes. The key change at 2m42s, gives it a lift, more commonly associated with boy band style outros.’
10. David Bowie ‘ ‘Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy’ (2%)
‘In our search for nostalgia, this Xmas classic manages to merge the old with the new. The pairing of Bing Crosby and Bowie raised a few eyebrows at the time, but the old school nostalgic warmth of Bing matched with the optimistic forward facing Bowie, means that this Christmas tune continues to remain a firm favourite.’
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