They are every bit as much a part of Christmas as turkey and ham and over the last few weeks we’ve been asking derryjournal.com’s online readers to vote for their favourite festive pop songs.
And now we can reveal what you chose as your favourite Christmas cracker.
Number 1: - Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
It’ll come as no surprise to learn that this 1987 offering topped our poll with 32% of votes - despite lagging behind until just before Christmas eve.
Topping the charts in Ireland in the year of its release, and peaking at number 2 in the UK’s Christmas chart, this tale of an inebriated Irish immigrant’s Christmas Eve in a New York drunk tank, has become a modern classic - and the background music to a certain retail conglomerate’s latest Christmas ads.
MacGowan’s drunk tank dreams turn to MacColl, a one time love, and what ensues is an all at once harsh yet melodious, hard yet harmonious, row between the two, lamenting the loss of their hopes as they arrived in New York, their dreams crushed by the realities of addiction.
The song continues to chart each and every Christmas.
Coincidentally Pogues singer and national treasure Shane MacGowan turned 54 on Christmas Day.
Number 2: - When a Child is Born - Johnny Mathis
Mega selling Mathis’ only UK number 1 topped the charts in December 1976 and went on to sell more than 6million copies worldwide.
While we excluded carols and hymns from our online poll, and while this song makes no direct reference to Christmas, the religious connotations in When a Child is born are obvious.
“All across the land, dawns a brand new morn, This comes to pass when a child is born,” sings Mathis, before we hear that the child will “turn tears to laughter, Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone’s neighbour.”
Boney M, Kenny Rogers, Bing Crosby and Willie Nelson, have all recorded versions, but none have come anywhere near the success of Mathis.
Number 3: Stop the Cavalry - Jona Lewie
Much like our poll topper, Jona Lewie’s biggest hit was not intended for a Christmas release.
But when the song hit the charts in December 1980 it was only kept from number one by the recently deceased John Lennon.
With a strong anti war message and a video set in the trenches of the First World War, it was originally intended as a protest song.
Lewie has since explained that it was the record company who spotted the festive potential in the line ‘I wish I was at home for Christmas’ and the brass section that features heavily.
Again, other versions have been recorded but none match the original.
And making up the top five on our festive fave list were Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo, and Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas.