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Top 10 British Christmas Songs

Written by Sean Harris Roll out the tinsel, because IT'S CHRISTMAS! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Christmas songs! For this list, we’ve curated a playlist of the finest festive pop anthems ever to come out of the UK. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 British Christmas Songs

Roll out the tinsel, because IT'S CHRISTMAS! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British Christmas songs!

For this list, we’ve curated a playlist of the finest festive pop anthems ever to come out of the UK.

#10: “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” (2003)
The Darkness

A modern classic and probably the catchiest Christmas song of the twenty-first century, “Don’t Let the Bells End” earned The Darkness a unique spot in pop music history. There aren’t many bands who can build a chorus around thinly veiled double-entendres, and still have thousands singing along. It’s a record which expertly parodies the look and feel of previous Christmas hits, while still carving out its very own niche. And the glam rock video is just as awesome.

#9: “Driving Home for Christmas” (1986)
Chris Rea

Though it doesn’t boast the chart success enjoyed by some of today’s other entries, it’s almost impossible to go through Christmas without finding yourself singing this record at least once. The seminal soundtrack to any wintery car ride, or long journey of any description, “Driving Home for Christmas” resonates with almost everyone. The track was given a fresh, celeb-packed music video in 2009, in aid of Shelter. Any song which gets Lionel Blair jiving with Keith from “The Office” is a winner in our eyes.

#8: “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” (1972)
John Lennon & Yoko Ono/The Plastic Ono Band

Released at the height of John and Yoko’s political activism, and amidst rising tension over the Vietnam War, here’s a record which swapped the bells and holly of most Christmas songs, to deliver a stark message of peace. Entering the UK charts almost a year after its American debut, it has since become a seasonal standard. With an iconic opening line and enduring lyrics, “War is Over” encourages everyone to challenge the status quo, and to strive for a fairer world.

#7: “Stay Another Day” (1994)
East 17

A relatively rare example of a Christmas classic which isn’t directly about the holiday itself, “Stay Another Day” took the Christmas number one spot in 1994, during a five-week stint at the top of the charts. Written by East 17 band member Tony Mortimer, with lyrics reflecting personal tragedy in his family, the song was also covered by Girls Aloud – but let’s not go there. Giving us an annual glimpse of some questionable ‘90s boyband fashion, this track’s all about its singalong hook which everyone knows the words to.

#6: “Stop the Cavalry” (1980)
Jona Lewie

Another record which wasn’t originally intended to become a Christmas hit, and another protest song, “Stop the Cavalry” sees Jona Lewie imagine a world without conflict. An international favourite, it reached number three in the UK charts, kept off the top-spot only by two re-released John Lennon tracks in the wake of the ex-Beatle’s death. With its famous brass band backdrop and Lewie’s instantly recognisable tones, it’s underrated by some – but not by us.

#5: “I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday” (1973)

In terms of an all-out, gold, glitter and sparkles celebration, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more festive number than this. Roy Wood takes the lead for a joyous jaunt through all things Christmas, backed up by his flamboyantly dressed band and a choir of school kids. “I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday” does tend to divide opinion, but it’s an undisputed anthem all the same. The only surprise is that it didn’t chart at number one – though, as we’ll see shortly, the competition was quite strong that year…

#4: “Last Christmas” (1984)

Time for a change in mood, as Wham! get romantic with one of the most successful Christmas singles of all time. “Last Christmas” tells a tender tale of love and heartbreak, brought to life through its world-famous music video - with George Michael playing the lead, and Kathy Hill starring as his old flame. Given the song’s universal appeal, it has also seen its fair share of covers. The likes of Billie Piper, Jimmy Eat World and Carley Rae Jepson have all offered their versions – but nothing beats the original.

#3: “Merry Xmas Everybody” (1973)

1973 was a good year for Christmas music. We’ve already heard from Wizzard, but Slade scored the coveted number one spot with this. With lyrics written in a single night at Noddy Holder’s mother’s house, “Merry Xmas Everybody” is still one of the best-selling, most popular and most lucrative festive tracks – some estimates say that the record bags around half a million in royalties every single year. It’s just not Christmas until this song is on your speakers.

#2: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1984)
Band Aid

If ’73 was good, then ’84 was even better. “Last Christmas” would’ve surely nabbed number one were it not for this, a stand-out moment in British music history. Led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, Band Aid saw scores of top musicians unite for one day, to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. A charity single, it raised over £8 million for famine relief in Ethiopia in its first year alone, and it led to the Live Aid benefit gig, as well as further recordings in 1989, 2004 and 2014.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Christmas Lights” (2010)

“Merry Christmas Everyone” (1985)
Shakin’ Stevens

“Proper Crimbo” (2003)
Bo’ Selecta!

#1: “Fairytale of New York” (1987)
The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl

Pitching an Irish punk band with an English vocalist, “Fairytale of New York” is an off-kilter ballad about love, regret, hopes, dreams and alcoholism - set at Christmas, for good measure. It almost entirely ignores the conventional Christmas formula, but boasts more magic than every other festive effort out there. As soon as you hear those opening keys, and as soon as you see Shane MacGowan shoved into a jail cell, you know you’re set for the next four minutes. Pass the sherry, because it doesn’t get better than this.

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