10 Great 21st Century Christmas Songs

Justin Lee Collins. Nobody likes him, do they? Perhaps invoking his name isn’t the best way to kick off an article about festive cheer, but I have my reasons.

In 2005, Justin Lee Collins presented a show on Channel 4 called Bring Back The Christmas Number One. Fed up with Simon Cowell’s Christmas chart domination, Justin wanted to see a song with a Christmas theme take that coveted UK number one chart position on Christmas Day.

With the exception of the Live Aid remake, this still hasn’t been achieved since Cliff Richard topped the charts in 1990 with Saviour’s Day.

Now let us pause to listen to that song.

Jesus, I love that song.

Justin gathered the ghosts of Christmas past – Jona Lewie, David Essex, Showaddywaddy, and members of Mud and Slade – and got them to record a song called I’m Going Home. It didn’t make it to number one.

Never mind. But the thing is, though Justin was ostensibly motivated by his desire to topple the tower of SyCo, I seem to remember a bogus thread running through his program. Justin kept hinting that one of the main reasons why Christmas songs no longer make it to the Christmas number one spot, is because people simply no longer write good Christmas songs. They were a product of Justin’s childhood, which is why he gathered the heroes of 70s and 80s Christmas music for his brave attempt to set things right.

Well, balderdash. It’s still the case that bloody good Christmas songs are released every year. True, they no longer make it to number one, but since when has that been an indicator of quality?

Here’s a list of 10 great Christmas songs from the 21st century.

Now, before we begin, yes. I quite agree with you. To allude to a TV show presented by a disgraced “personality”, which nobody has seen in nine years, as a rambling introduction to a listicle…yes. Not my best moment. And oh my, I just used the word “listicle”. Less than 300 words in, and this post is already a disaster.

Never mind. Let’s go.

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The 7 Best Albums of 2014 That You May Not Have Heard

Everywhere’s doing their end of year lists. This is important, because how else will we know what the best album of 2014 was?

I used to do this myself, but I stopped when I realised a few things:

1. Nobody was reading my lists.

2. My lists were essentially identical to everyone else’s, just with the albums in a slightly different order.

3. My lists took weeks to compile and write, but they didn’t make the slightest bit of difference to anyone – apart from that time my girlfriend said that I should have rated Oceansize higher.

Though I no longer compile lists of my own, I still find it useful when others do. I’m finding it increasingly exhausting to seek out new music. Brand new, that is. Whilst it’s always an absolute pleasure to delve into the past, when it comes to new music, I no longer have the energy to listen to as much as I can, in the vague hope of finding something that works for me.

The likes of Spotify have certainly made things cheaper, but by no means have they made things any easier. Being able to stream every album that’s ever released, instantly, at the touch of a button, only serves to highlight just how much new music is released every single week of every single year.

End of year lists make me aware of things that I would otherwise have missed. When they’re compiled by sites like The Quietus and Tiny Mix Tapes, they invariably contain the sort of strange noises that I wouldn’t have heard even if it were still possible to stay up til 5AM every single night, tirelessly trawling the blogs. They champion the unchampioned, and their end of year lists have pointed me towards some truly incredible sounds:

But it’s not just the obscure stuff. Merchandise’s After The End has featured prominently in several year end lists. I simply would not have given it a go otherwise. This afternoon I did, and it was wonderful. I mean, really wonderful, as in, “full of wonder”; as in, it’s a genuine wonder that it’s still possible to make fresh sounds from such basic instruments.

It’s for this reason I thought I’d compile a very short list of my own. These aren’t the best albums of 2014. Rather, they’re albums I’ve really enjoyed in 2014, but which I’ve not seen featured in many other year end lists. Maybe you’ve heard them, maybe you haven’t. In any case, perhaps you’ll discover something new.

Oh. If you have heard these albums, don’t scream at me for having the audacity to suggest that you haven’t. Instead, let’s be friends.

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