Our Favorite Christmas Songs
This week, the guys write about each of their favorite Christmas songs.
Merry Christmas Everybody,
This week on the pod, we continued our year-in-review series, this time highlighting the biggest headlines of 2021.
The selections ranged from hard-hitting new stories about Britney Spears’ conservatorship to more jovial but less memorable topics: Do y’all remember when J. Cole played basketball in Rwanda? Or when the naked baby on the cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” sued the band 30 years later? We discuss those and more!
Now onto the newsletter. The theme this week is Holiday Cheer! So, we’re going over our favorite Christmas songs!
Nnamdi on Mariah Carey’s
retirement hit Christmas classic “All I Want For Christmas is You.”
Avery writes about Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis.”
Noah on the Jackson 5’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”
Year in Review: Headlines of the Year
Mariah’s Annual Bag: All I Want For Christmas is You
If Rihanna can retire from the stress of the music industry because of Fenty Beauty, Mariah Carey can rest easy every night thanks to the generational success of “All I Want For Christmas is You.”
Few people in history have achieved what Carey has, even fewer from the modern-music era: Creating a classic holiday hit that holds up years after its initial release. Artists have routinely dropped holiday albums – it’s almost a career mandate for pop singers to traverse into the holiday music scene at least once. Michael Bublé has one of the best-selling albums *ever* with his Christmas LP. But Bublé’s album consists mostly of covers of reworked holiday classics, including Carey’s own. And that’s what makes Carey’s success so distinct.
It's rare to create a song that people return to annually – that’s reached, and in many ways surpassed, the musical feats of 60s-era holiday classics like Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Anecdotally, I spent most of my childhood under the impression that “AIl I Want For Christmas Is You” was a cover by Mariah Carey. I thought Carey, like her contemporaries, made a habit of re-recording classics and hers just happened to stick. And before you judge, understand that I was born three years after the song was released to widespread success – I’ve never not known it. And therefore, it occupied a similar lane in my brain as other classics like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Santa Baby” and the now-disgraced “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – songs that all came out when segregation was the norm! I will humbly admit that I was well into my teenage years before it dawned on me that this was a song she created full through — from lyrics to production. Has any other post-civil rights era Christmas song met *this* much success?
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” has charted every year on the Billboard Hot 100 since it’s release in 1994. Due to its prominence on holiday playlists, in 2019, 23 years after its release, it peaked at #1 for the first time. It’s since returned to the top spot again in 2020, and as of this week, 2021. That makes it the first song in history to lead the Hot 100 in three distinct runs.
Forbes estimated that Carey’s earned $60 million dollars in royalties since the song’s release — she can retire on one song!
And in what may just be the best part of this entire thing, the song is a certified bop! It’s timeless in its lyrics and production. It brilliantly encompasses the cheery, holiday spirit. And even though it's technically a thirsty, love song, no other song in modern history oozes Christmas more than Carey’s classic. And for that, I’m grateful.
“Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC
When I think about the chaos and joy that accompanies every holiday season, the intro to “Christmas in Hollis” is the soundtrack to those memories. To me, this song embodies everything that Christmas is about, it’s about family, it’s about food and it’s about abundance.
The song details a Christmas at the house of DMC’s family, and the song is such a perfect marriage between the holiday spirit and the energy that Run-DMC brought to every track. It’s even more interesting because initially, the group had no interest in recording a Christmas song, feeling that doing so would be selling out and sanitizing hip-hop.
Then they heard those horns. Those iconic horns that start the track, a sample of Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa,” ultimately convinced the group to make a Christmas song.
The song was included as part of a charity record called A Very Special Christmas, which was conceptualized by Jimmy Iovine. The record included legends like Whitney Houston, U2, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen. Run-DMC outdid all of them and created a song that has stood the test of time and become iconic.
This song has become the song that best defines Christmas and one that will always put me in the Christmas spirit. Also, it was in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie.
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by Jackson 5
When I think of a tune that embodies how it feels to be a toddler excited about the holiday season, one song comes to mind, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by Jackson 5. The song was on their album, Christmas Album, which came out in 1970. It’s a cover of the song originally performed by Jimmy Boyd in 1952.
This song embodies a young soul’s belief in Christmas: Santa Claus, mistletoe and everything that comes along with it. Michael Jackson’s young voice was perfect for this song, as he was only 12-years-old and probably still did believe in Santa Claus himself.
His youth pours throughout the track, in the first 10 seconds of the track you hear Michael scream, “Wow! Mommy’s kissing Santa Claus!” Isn’t that cute? I mean it’s even cuter looking back now because Santa Claus is obviously Michael’s father but a young person wouldn’t think of it like that, it would just be Santa.
That’s even more apparent because at the end of the song Michael implores his brothers, “I did! I did! I really did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus! You gotta believe me! You just gotta believe me! Come on fellas!”
I remember when I was younger, I’d wake up to gifts under the tree screaming to my parents and brothers, “Santa came! Santa came!” This song illustrates those emotions I used to feel.
So whenever I want to evoke my holiday spirit, I listen to this song and I feel like a kid again.
Y’all hear about this?
Now on the 97 Demo Mix:
Songs from: Lojay, Burna Boy, Tierra Whack, FKA Twigs and more!
Ep. 71: Year in Review: Headlines of the Year
Tweet of the week: