Thursday, 11 December 2008

Which Christmas compilation album has the best songs?

It's been months since my last update so I figured I’d go festive. I've set out to find the ultimate Christmas pop and cheese compilation album. There are some songs that must be on the ultimate compilation album and so I’ve merged the worlds of Christmas, cheese and my inherent geekness to create a table of where you'll find them. The album that gets the most ticks in the right places wins the Maverick Christmas compilation award.

Now the list of songs I’m choosing are completely subjective but to attempt to give it a vague basis I’ll start with the first Christmas album I ever listened to, 1985's original "Now - The Christmas Album". To this I’ll add a number of more recent classics and a couple of forgotten pop treasures (helped by this list of 100 top Christmas songs).

I have deliberately left off most of the early 'classics' such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Andy Williams etc as they tend to be on classic Christmas albums rather than pop ones anyway (with the notable exception of the great Bing). Try "Christmas With The Rat Pack" for that sort of thing. Anything else left off there's probably a damn good reason, feel free to argue with me...

The albums I’ll be comparing are as follows. They're mostly 2008 (they all get re-released every year) but i've also chucked in a few almost identical ones from other years just to see how they compare. Most of the images link through to their listing on Amazon.

Now - That's What I Call Music - The Christmas Album1. Now - That's What I Call Music - The Christmas Album
Released: 1985
Label: Virgin/EMI
Format: Double LP
As mentioned above, my original Christmas album that I own on a slightly battered double LP. It also has the dubious honour of being the only album containing Garry Glitter's Another Rock N' Roll Christmas or Queen's Thank God It's Christmas - very different reasons why. You'll find all the Now albums also don't contain any traditional Christmas carols sung by a choir (although they do if sung by a pop star or crooner).

Now That's What I Call Xmas2. Now That's What I Call Xmas
Released: 2008
Label: Virgin TV
Format: 3CD
The latest version of the classic Now series, will it stack up to 1985's cheesefest? As you'll find with most of the multi CD albums, they do have a selection of classics but also are full of lots and lots of rubbish Christmas pop stocking fillers that really should be burnt.

Now Xmas: Massive Christmas Hits3. Now XMAS: Massive Christmas Hits
Released: 2005
Label: Virgin TV
Format: 1CD
The 2005 Now compilation. The only other compilation i own after the 1985 double LP. I do think the original Now logo was a lot funkier.

Christmas Hits - 2008 release4. Christmas Hits
Released: 2008
Label: SonyBMG
Format: 4CD
The second biggest compilation of them all with a bumper 84 tracks. However the last CD of this is carols sung by a variety of cathedral choirs.

Christmas Hits - 2006 release5. Christmas Hits
Released 2006
Label BMG TV
Format 3CD
The 2006 version of the Christmas Hits, doesn't have the 4th CD of carols. The 3 CDs it does have aren't identical to the 2008 one either (although it does have much of the same stuff).

101 Christmas Songs6. 101 Christmas Songs
Released 2008
Label EMI
Format 4CD
The biggest compilation of them all with, you guessed it, 101 tunes (I counted). This also has a selection of carols sung by a choir, clearly there are only enough Christmas pop songs to ever fill 3 CDs

The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever7. The Best Christmas Album in the World Ever
Released 2007
Label EMI/Virgin
Format 2CD
As far as i can tell they haven't re-released this album this year so i'm using the most recent - last year's. Also has a few carols


Now
'85
Now
'08
Now
'05
Hits
'08
Hits
'06
101Best
Ever
Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas? (1984)XX

X
X
Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayXXX

XX
Slade - Merry Xmas EverybodyXXX


X
Wham! - Last ChristmasX

XX
X
Elton John - Step Into ChristmasXXX
X

Mike Oldfield - In Dulce JubiloXXX


X
Gary Glitter - Another Rock N' Roll ChristmasX





Paul McCartney - Wonderful ChristmastimeXXX

XX
Shakin' Stevens - Blue ChristmasX

XX

John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)XXX

XX
Greg Lake - I Believe in Father ChristmasXXX
X
X
Chris de Burgh - A Spaceman Came TravellingXXX


X
Jona Lewie - Stop The CavalryXXXXXXX
The Beach Boys - Little Saint NickXXX


X
Queen - Thank God It's ChristmasX





Mud - Lonely This ChristmasXX


XX
Johnny Mathis - When a Child is Born (Soleado)X


X

Bing Crosby - White ChristmasXXX


X
Pogues & Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York
X
XX

Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping
XX


X
Michael Ball - Driving Home For Christmas
XX



Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas


XX

Cliff Richard - Mistletoe and Wine
XX

XX
Aled Jones - Walking In The Air
X

XXX
Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas


XX

Bing Crosby & David Bowie - Little Drummer Boy
X

XXX
Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone


XX


Now
'85
Now
'08
Now
'05
Hits
'08
Hits
'06
101Best
Ever

So, to summarize this year's Now and last year's Best Christmas Album in the World Ever seem to be the most comprehensive. Both miss absolute classics though, the 2008 Now album not having Wham! and Best Christmas Album in the World Ever not having the Pogues (neither have Maria Carey). However if you accept that you'll have to download a couple of your faves on their own these are the best bet.

Christmas Hits fails to have most of the 70s or 80s classics while 101 Christmas Songs wins the prize for being the worst. Jona Lewie fans can at least rejoice that they could buy any of the 7 albums, dub a dub a dum dum .

So the Maverick Christmas Compilation award goes to 2008's Now That's What I Call Xmas. The fact that it doesn't have Wham! should never be a problem for cheesy music lovers as you all already own Wham! - The Final (their greatest hits), and if you don't, you should. Merry Christmas Everyone.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ok, 101 Xmas songs IS rubbish - but it does have Gonzo & Rizzo the Rat singing 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year' and so therefore is a must have ;)

Maverick DJ said...

OK you got me.

gZa said...

Just been doing the whole xmas themed music in the office and must give a shout out to "James Brown's Funky Christmas" it does exactly what it says on the tin!

Jamie said...

Thanks for analysis

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