I was going to leave Christmas songs until December but I’ve got a feeling there might be quite a few of them so here are two of the early ones. (And the decision was helped by the fact that it has been raining cats and dogs here all day).
What’s more these two early examples are very promising. The days of Slade, Wizzard, George Michael and Mariah Carey’s Christmases may well be over. Read on.
Vincent Ryder (Denmark) – Dream Big
Just as the M&S Christmas TV advert in the UK encouraged everyone to do their own thing on 25th December (including knocking a Santa puppet across the street with a baseball bat and Sophie Ellis-Bextor setting fire to Christmas cards with a blow torch to ‘I’ll do anything for love [but I won’t do that]’ (weird, or what?), with his new Christmas pop anthem, 19-year-old Danish artist Vincent Ryder exhorts us to ‘Dream Big’.
But encouragingly, not in terms of the size of the presents under the tree, but in terms of what we should really expect from each other as human beings.
It’s about as far from his single ‘F*** You’, which we covered a couple of months ago,as he could get. He’s concocted an amalgam of every ‘hopeful’ Christmas song you can think of, from ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ to ‘Happy Xmas, war is over’ to ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ and then stuffed it to the gills with the sort of feel good nostalgia we used to get from the John Lewis TV adverts.
(Note to foreign readers, you really should watch these adverts on YouTube to understand how Britain works).
There’s a big and very Christmassy melody, an angelic ooh-ooh choir and chiming bells. It propels you right into Christmas Day whether you want to go there or not.
Vincent makes clear his priorities – “World peace, no more disease, everyone uniting in a song…”
Quite apart from that being the first time I’ve ever heard anyone rhyme peace and disease, you might say cynically that its idealistic kitsch but c’mon man Vincent means well, his positive attitude is right on the button, and its Christmas, or at least it will be in a month’s time.
Find him on:
Marte Eberson (Norway) – That Day in December
And it is that very proximity to Christmas that is starting to trouble Marte Eberson.
If my memory serves me correctly I believe Marte has featured twice here with her enchanting version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ in previous years.
This time, and fresh from the release of her album ‘Free’ last month, which explored inter alia the complexity of love life in modern-day Oslo, her selection is something a little more sombre, the song ‘That Day in December’.
Indeed she refers to it as a December song rather than a Christmas one, taking time out to reflect on the year gone by and lost loves, both romantic and family.
She says (and I’m going to repeat this in full),
“For me, Christmas is not very jolly, because I have experienced a lot around Christmas time. I know that Christmas can be painful for so many people, so when I wanted to write a Christmas song, it felt natural to bring out some of the pain and hurt. Just because it’s December, it doesn´t mean that everything is rosy and life goes smoothly.
This song means a lot to me. Christmas for me is a time for reflection. How has the year been, how do I want the next one to be. I allow myself to mourn friends and family members who are no longer present in my life. I want peace and quiet, and would rather just breathe out and lower my pulse. I think it’s tiring with packages, hustle and bustle, but I think it’s nice to have the quiet evenings. I don’t really have that many expectations. I think it’s nice to see my nephews excited, and excited about Christmas presents. It reminds me of myself as a child. It’s the good memories I think back to then, when I’m with them.”
You know, I think she speaks for many of the people reading this…
The more I see Marte’s explanations of her songs and lyrics the more I perceive a deep-thinking philosopher. I recall her brief but poignant statement on social media in the early days of the Covid pandemic when she questioned the value of her work and whether she might find greater contentment in doing something more useful for the benefit of humanity. I never forgot it.
Having said all that, here’s an interesting thing. For all the depth of its meaning it could equally have been the last song on ‘Free.’ Lyrically, it harks back to a lost love who is still “stuck in my mind,” who she “walked away from” and blames herself for, with the simple statement “I’m sorry”. “Don’t let me break your heart again”, she pleads.
Like many artists I find she often produces her best work when it is just her and a piano as in this instance. It has the melancholic feel of ABBA’s ‘The Day before you came’ to it, except in Marte’s case it’s the day before you didn’t come.
Find her on: