Christmas singles 2009 roundup
The Xmas Factor
The dull predictably of The X Factor now means that some putty-faced goon will get a Christmas number one single every year from now until the apocalypse, followed in the top ten by an army of insentient reality TV drones. Yet, in the face of this sad truth, innovative punks Fucked Up have not given up the fight, enlisting the great and the good of the alternative music scene to combat SuBo and JLS with their version of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, featuring Vampire Weekend, TV On The Radio and Yo La Tengo. Niki Boyle weighs up its chances against the best of the other alternative offerings to hit the singles chart this Christmas.
Julian Casablancas - ‘I Wish It Was Christmas Today’ (RCA Records) ●●●
Sounds exactly like you’d want it to: similar to the original version put together by the US stars of Saturday Night Live, but imbued with some indie credibility; reminiscent of Is This It-era Strokes with added synthy bits. Given the season, it’s tempting to let him off for the sleigh-bells, but since none of our other entries have them a point is deducted for cheesiness.
Chart potential: There’s always marketability in TV/chart crossovers – medium to high.
Kevin Devine - ‘Splitting Up Christmas’ (BSM) ●●●
Not so much a splitting up at Christmas time, rather an acoustic meditation on how to see all your friends, family and loved ones in the festive period. Catch him live at the Captain’s Rest on Tue 8 Dec to bag a numbered CD with exclusive b-side, Elliot Smith’s ‘Whatever (Some Folk Song In C)’.
Chart potential: Low – but charts highly in our hearts.
Slow Club - ‘Christmas, Thanks For Nothing’ EP (Moshi Moshi) ●●●●
It’s hard to shake the feeling that Slow Club are trying to get one past us, here – this 5-track EP includes two covers and the single ‘Christmas TV’ from their festive release from last year. Still, we’ll let them away with it because it’s brilliant … and it is Christmas after all. Simple, beautiful, and sans sleigh-bells.
Chart potential: In an ideal world, huge. In this universe, slim.
Bob Dylan - ‘Must Be Santa’ (Columbia) ●●●●●
The voice of protest music in the ’60s puts on his happy hat and whips out this jaunty little polka, complete with call-and-response lyrics and a list of Santa’s reindeer (although I’m sure Kennedy and Nixon weren’t in the original line-up). Check out the video for Bob’s own version of a Skins-style party at his place, with fistfights and drinking a-plenty. http://tinyurl.com/yej9yjd
Chart potential: Medium, but only because it’s Bobby.
Laura Marling - ‘Goodbye England, Covered In Snow’ (Virgin) ●●
The least festive song of our selection (more to do with winter and wintry relationships, really) is a lovely tune, but unfortunately one that reveals low notes are not Marling’s strongest point – although there are male harmonies to help balance that out slightly. The other problem is that there’s nothing here to hold your attention – the song’s forgotten almost as soon as it’s over.
Chart potential: A few hundred copies bought by grieving ex-boyfriends, otherwise widely overlooked.
X - ‘Merry Xmas From X’ (Anko Records/IODA) ●●●
This two-track EP has the ‘80s LA surf-pop-punks covering some Christmas standards: ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ with a wicked jingly-jangly guitar solo, and ‘Jingle Bells’ with a slightly dangerous bassline that wouldn’t be out of place in a Robert Rodriguez movie. Good versions of old classics then, but a missed opportunity for fresh material.
Chart potential: An alt novelty, so not much.
The Killers - ‘Happy Birthday Guadelupe’ (Island Def Jam)
Mariachi El Bronx and Wild Light contribute to this Mexican-flavoured outing by the Killers, their fourth Christmas single in as many years. Rumours abound it’ll be a tribute to the Virgen de Guadelupe, whose birthday is on Sat 12 Dec. Potentially misguided, but here at The List we’ll accept any excuse to apply some jalapeno stuffing to the turkey. Viva Los Killers!
Chart potential: Moderate – could do with a Peter Kay cameo to broaden its appeal.
Fucked Up - ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ (Matador)
Vampire Weekend, TV On The Radio, David Cross, Broken Social Scene, GZA, Bob Mould, No Age and Yo La Tengo are confirmed; Feist, Jarvis Cocker and M.I.A. are still TBC; and Fucked Up frontman Pink Eyes still holds out hope for ‘a Jonas brother’. Still to be recorded, actually, but this line-up’s got us foaming at the mouth in excitement.
Chart potential: Lots, if the downtrodden indie misfits of the world rise up to take this Christmas as their own.