Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot Chocolate! | Quinn Satterlund
Hot Chocolate. Mistletoe. Santa Claus. And for all those not in San Diego, snow! Ready for Christmas yet? I sure am, and with the holiday season steadily approaching, what better way to get into the spirit than a ranking of the top 5 cheery, yuletide-filled songs?
1. “Last Christmas” by Wham!
Written by Wham! lead singer George Michael in his bedroom, the song was first released in 1984. Held off from the No. 1 Spot due to Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (which Micheal also performed on), it finally hit the coveted 1 spot more than thirty years after its release (thirty-six to be exact) in 2020. The poppy synths and catchy yet soulful lyrics lead to what The Guardian called “not just a festive classic, but a high watermark of mid-80s British synth pop songcraft.”
2. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by The Plastic Ono Band
Honestly, “Last Christmas” and “Happy Xmas” are almost interchangeable, and as the holiday season wears on, “Happy Xmas” slowly gains the number 1 spot. Released in 1971, the song features background vocals from the Harlem Community Choir, and was preceded by billboards in 12 major cities, all reading “WAR IS OVER - If You Want It - Merry Christmas from John and Yoko.” Produced by Phil Spector, the head mind behind the greatest Christmas album of all time, it is easy to see why I love this song so much.
3. “Driving Home for Christmas” by Chris Rea
I discovered this song about two years ago, and I’m angry that it took me so long to find this masterpiece. A combination of 80s synths and blues with a little bit of cool jazz influence, the song glides along despite its 4 and half minute long length. Adding to the ambiance of the song is Chris Rea’s signature husky voice, creating one of the best Christmas songs of all time.
4. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love
This is the lead single from the greatest Christmas album of all time, “A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector.” It was ranked the number one Rock & Roll Christmas song of all time by Rolling Stone, and it’s certainly in the top 5. Produced using Spector’s famous “Wall Of Sound'' technique, the song is filled with color and depth, and easily pushes through my record player’s flimsy speakers. Love’s vocals are just perfect, and they ring with emotion every time you listen. Like all other songs on this list, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” could easily take the number one spot — it just depends on my mood.
5. “Christmas in Harlem” by Kanye West, Prynce Cy Hi, & Teyana Taylor / “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
A tie is the only way to fit both of these amazing songs here, so I had to do it. “Christmas in Harlem” is another song that I recently discovered about 3 years ago, and I quickly fell in love with it. Recorded for Kanye’s G.O.O.D Fridays, the song just emits a Christmas vibe, with stellar performances by Teyana Taylor and Prynce Cy Hi. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is also a great song, no denying that, but the amount of times I hear this song, even well into January, is what drops it so low. It sounds like a modern version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” and I’m all for that.
Honorable Mentions: “Christmas Time is Here (Vocal)” by Vince Guaraldi, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, and “A Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues.