by Jacob Wingate-Bishop

Well, we went over our picks for the worst songs of the Christmas season. But the holidays are a time for positivity – hope, love and good vibes. So, in the spirit of this time of year, let me pick over what’s on offer, and come up with the five best Chrimbo tunes ever written. Paul McCartney could never.

Bryan Adams performs at the Ahoy hal in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 1991. (Photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns)

Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord, Boney M., 1978 – From quasi-historically accurate ‘Rasputin’ through to ‘Daddy Cool’ and ‘Ma Baker’, Boney M. were the queens of late ‘70s disco. And they took that meticulously crafted, dance-pop formula into the recording sessions for their 1978 Christmas single. Gone are the lengthy ballads and pathetic attempts at plucking heartstrings. Behold, the story of Jesus Christ’s birth wrapped up in an endlessly catchy beat, segueing halfway into pure, beer-fuelled hysteria. ‘Oh my lord/ You sent your son to save us/ Oh my lord/ Your very self you gave us…’ – come Boxing Day, you’ll still be humming this one to yourself, through all the nausea and torn wrapping paper.

Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End), The Darkness, 2003 – The Darkness’ own take on the traditional carol has everything you want in a Christmas song. A sense of utter abandon and eggnog-tinted debauchery, a bad pun, killer riff and even a well-placed children’s choir. It’s not exactly Motorhead, but it remains one of the most metal Christmas tracks out there. And there should be more rock where Saint Nicholas is concerned. What’s more festive than the sight of a baby-faced Justin Hawkins squeezing into tight spandex and guitar-facing for three minutes? Precisely. A seasonal rocker done right.

Christmas Time, Bryan Adams, 1985 – Without a doubt the most unknown entry on the list, and hopefully a nice, warm, festive present to rock out to, come the fabled morn. Back in 1985, musician Bryan Adams was on top of the world, having released Reckless the previous year. He tried his hand at a seasonal ballad, and whilst it’s no ‘Heaven’ or ‘Summer of ‘69’, ‘Christmas Time’ is still a chillingly good representation of what would happen if Christmas went hair metal. ‘Somethin’ about Christmas time/ Makes you wish it was Christmas everyday…’ Hardly ambitious, original lyrics, but as easy to digest as another mince pie all the same. All these years later, it’s still somewhat of a hidden, pop rock Chrimbo masterpiece.

Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan posing together, 1987. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)

Step into Christmas, Elton John, 1973 – Camp, Christmassy pop at its finest. Once again, the mythical duo of John and Bernie Taupin prove they’re masters of the form, conjuring up one of the catchiest songs of the ‘70s. As soon as that chorus bounces through the speakers, it’s impossible not to dance, clap and howl along. ‘Step into Christmas’ is the earliest entry on this list, and yet somehow, it feels more timeless than the rest. Countless were the early winter’s mornings before school when Elton would prep me for the day. He’s welcome at any Christmas party – he’s earned his place at the front of the eggnog queue.

Fairytale of New York, The Pogues, feat. Kirsty MacColl, 1987 – I admit, this was a foregone conclusion in my eyes. I debated, deliberated and discussed (with myself) numbers 2-5. But The Pogues always had this one sewn up. ‘Fairytale of New York’, aside from being a gateway into your grandad’s slightly un-PC ramblings about ‘cancel culture’, is a beautiful song. Strip away any Christmassy connotations and it’s still a hauntingly sad, all-too-true tale about a pair of lovers who had hopes and dreams. Now, the flame has died, and they resent eachother. It portrays Christmas as the dark, depressive episode it truly is for many each year, and leaves a wintery hand around the heart. On the other hand, it gets the crowd going like a forest fire, and that burst into Irish melody around the minute mark puts ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to shame. Shane MacGowan’s words and drunken retorts – coupled with the late MacColl’s acid tongue – make for a legendary effort. There’s no God, choir or fireside hugs here. But it’s Christmas all the same.