24 Dec
2020

The IAM Christmas Playlist 2020

We’re taking a few days off now but could not do so without first sharing with you the tunes will be singing along to over the festive break. Each member of the IAM editorial team has chosen their top five Christmas songs. For different reasons, they all mean something special and each one comes with an explanation as to why.

Here’s wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas. We’ll be back again on 28th December. Ho, ho, ho!

Bridget Diakun, Data reporter

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John

My brother got a record player one year for Christmas and he played this album, a lot. Now it’s hard not to enjoy a cold winter’s day without this tune.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDOL7iY8kfo

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee

A great song from one of my favourite Christmas movies, Home Alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3HJgCcSUqQ

All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

Is there a better holiday song? I don’t know how she did it, but this is the best Christmas pump up music around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXQViqx6GMY

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas – Bing Crosby

A classic that I like to play in the run up to the big day, as there really is nothing better than a snowy morning on Christmas Day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIVI4cE9PPo

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Idina Menzel & Michael Bublé

I couldn’t not include Michael Bublé on this list and this is a great version of the original. A warm drink is optional.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bbuBubZ1yE

Adam Houldsworth, Life sciences reporter

Salvation Army Band playing carols and hymns

Because of covid-19 restrictions, something I have really missed this year in the run up to Christmas is seeing Salvation Army brass bands playing in the streets of London. I enjoy brass bands. I love carols and hymns. And something about a Salvation Army Band captures the essence of Christmas. This year, I will have to listen to a recorded version instead!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTMGvDj-zxo

Elvis Presley – Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me

I will be listening to plenty of Elvis Presley over the festive period, not least because my father-in-law’s Christmas compilation tape (I think it’s actually a CD) contains at least half a dozen Elvis tracks. This one is a particular favourite.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWTGgCiVEv0

Manic Street Preachers – Last Christmas

This is my favourite version of the George Michael classic. Less cheesy than the original, it has a heartfelt quality and a great melody.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K16CRyfqwdg

Bing Crosby – White Christmas

It wouldn’t be Christmas without this track. There are many classic Christmas songs, but this may be the most iconic. Best enjoyed sat beside the tree, with a log fire crackling in the corner.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9ibhWgMlso

Peter Auty – Walking in the Air (from The Snowman)

This stirs up childhood memories. Played on British television most years, the song and animation evoke the bleak beauty of a Northern European Christmas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upH1QZU4Z0Y

Richard Lloyd, Editor

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas - Perry Como

Marrying an American and then moving to the US has given me a whole new appreciation for the Christmas tracks from a collection of the leading crooners from the 1950s and 1960s, and this one is at the top of the list. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmddeUJJEuU

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

See above – best enjoyed with a warming glass of red wine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwacxSnc4tI

Happy Xmas (War is Over) - John Lennon

Not in the same crooner vein as the first two, but just a very special Christmas track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flA5ndOyZbI

O Come All Ye Faithful - The Choir of King’s College Cambridge

I can’t say I’m a big fan of choral music but growing up, carols from the Choir of King’s College Cambridge was always part of the Christmas soundtrack at home, so I’ll include this one for a bit of nostalgia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhLIdT8DFI0

The Liquidator - Harry J Allstars

This track is very much not a festive song, but football has always been an important part of Christmas for me, which means trips to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea. So, with apologies to our Tottenham-supporting editor-in-chief, this somewhat obscure track, which the Blues walk out onto the pitch to, has to be on the list.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUSqKe5JGk4&list=RDEUSqKe5JGk4&start_radio=1&t=40

Jacob Schindler, Asia-Pacific editor

I’ll start off with two soul Christmas classics from 1968... “Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto” by James Brown…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aur9gLzsXQU

… and Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa”, both fixtures on my Christmas party playlists.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0NoalRsk5w

Shifting gear a bit - and remembering one of the greats we lost to covid-19 this year - I’ve been listening to John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQaJn11t94M

This is a great blues piano accompaniment to a Christmas Eve nightcap, and as far as I know the only Christmas song to mention my home state – Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7erAbC521M

Finally, I’ll end with a montage of Darlene Love singing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on the David Letterman show over the years – an annual tradition that I miss.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7erAbC521M

Joff Wild, Editor-in-chief

The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic

It’s not a Christmas song, but it is sung with deep faith and profound beauty in one of the everyday languages spoken in the land of Christ’s birth at the time of his birth. It is a deep link to our past.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=961ihcx4PoQ

Gaudete – Steeleye Span

A very traditional Christmas carol which I particularly like because it is the only song in Latin ever to make the UK top 20.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSL9uomqVCo

Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade

This came out when I was nine years old. It takes me back to all my 1970s Christmases: the lights, the decorations, the excitement, the presents; all the sweets I was never usually allowed. Whenever I hear it, I’m a kid again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpfHSqLXePI

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl

The Pogues were a brilliant band: Irish folk punk made in London. With Kirsty MacColl they created a timeless classic. This is every Christmas Eve of my youth in the pubs of Archway and Camden Town.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jbdgZidu8

Stay Another Day – E17

The UK Christmas Number One in 1994. This one takes me back to all the Christmases we had with our three kids when they were young. They were days to treasure. It’s actually a pretty good song, too.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wNhdjoF-6M&list=RD-wNhdjoF-6M&start_radio=1&t=0

Bing Zhao, China editor

River - Joni Mitchell

This does not mean that I enjoy a very blue Christmas or tend to get depressed over the holiday season. But it does portray an exotic landscape with a sad tinge: “Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on …”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NH-ctddY9o

Christmas Lights - Coldplay

The song starts sadly with a beautiful and almost sweet piano intro, then gradually develops to a very optimistic and joyful end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1rYmzQ8C9Q

You raise me up - Josh Groban

This song was introduced to me during my first actual Christmas Eve in a suburb of Connecticut, when I was a newly arrived Chinese student in the US.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJxrX42WcjQ

Come away with me - Norah Jones

Jones’s voice is very pleasant and soothing, and it’s a thoroughly peaceful song about a romantic escape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbjZPFBD6JU

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Ella Fitzgerald

A very warm and slightly melancholic melody sings out joy of the holiday, hope and also nostalgia for the past.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiNMzCMNAeM

Joff Wild

Author | Editor-in-chief

[email protected]

Joff Wild