The Annual Christmas Music Confessional


It’s time.

The Annual Fordeville Christmas Music Confessional is open.

Forget your shopping lists, your relatives driving you batshit crazy, the overachieving Pinterest Christmas boards and moving that damn Elf on the Shelf again.  Because it’s time to come clean about your dirty secret — the cheesiest Christmas songs that you love, that you sing at full volume when nobody’s looking — but would never admit to elsewhere.

So, I bring you a public service with this confessional.   I’m owning up to all my holiday favorites, as I have done for the past few years — shamelessly — and now you have a place where you can do the same. And we’ll never speak of it outside this blog.

Come all ye cheesy and tell us what you’re singing when nobody is around.

  • I’ll start out safe and lead with John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over).” The song isn’t cheesy, but the sight of me — inhaling a hot chocolate and weeping when those kids start singing the chorus — might be.  This song kills me. Gorgeous and sad and sweet.
  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” As a child of the 80s, I won’t even bother apologizing for loving this song. It’s my birthright. I remember my sister getting the 45 single (gulp), and we played it over and over. And the video — Sweet Jesus. I. Loved. It. My friend Jen and I made it our full-time job in sixth grade to know which artist was singing which part, amidst our intense Simon LeBon vs. Bono debates. I just looked online at the full Band Aid roster of singers and I think I feel my leg warmers falling down. Kool and the Gang? Really?
  • Apparently nobody ever fucking comes home for Christmas and there are all kinds of ways to sing and cry about it. And so I give you “Baby Please Come Home for Christmas” {The Eagles, Aaron Neville and Bon Jovi versions} and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) {the incomparable Darlene Love, of course — but the U2 version is also great}.
  • Let’s just veer further into total holiday depressive mode while we’re at it with Joni Mitchell’s “River.” Doesn’t it just make you want to jump out of a window in utter despair? Not just me, right? And — cheesy alert:  There is a little-known remake that is sung by, of all people, Robert Downey, Jr.  Who knew?  Apparently, he did this on one of his Ally McBeal guest appearances {remember that train wreck of a show?}. Turns out, the man can sing.  Say what you will.  Oh, and pass me the tissues.

OK. I’m saving my truly cheesy favorites for last.

  • I honestly can’t even talk to you if you can’t get behind Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne.”   No, I’m not joking. “Met my old lover in the grocery store — The snow was falling Christmas Eve…” Yes, that one. Fucking kills me.  You might be a little dead inside if it doesn’t get to you.

And, some big favorites to tie this up. Strangely, both of these last two songs have the same title but are entirely different. So, under the category of “All I Want for Christmas Is You”…

  • This one is a Fordeville family favorite but not terribly well-known, unless you are one of the five global members of the Vince Vance & the Valiants Fan Club. I have no idea what else they sing — I think they are a country outfit — but what a great song, released in 1989. The video has a medium-to-high bizarro/creepy factor (What the fuck is actually happening with the weird dude? There is no way in hell that’s all she wants for Christmas). But the music has got a twangy, sort of retro feel. And it’s completely cheesy. Bring it!
  • Lastly, yes, I’ll say it. I love the Mariah Carey song. I know, it’s cheesy. But I’m owning it. I’m not typically a Mariah fan but there is something about this song. It reminds me of the old Phil Spector Wall of Sound and the girl bands of the 1960s. Plus, it conjures up that scene from Love Actually, and then I think about Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, and everything is right in the world.

So there you go — those are some of my holiday favorites, in no particular order. Honorable mention to The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” and The Beach Boys’ “Merry Christmas Baby.”

Confession complete.

But you guys are not going to leave me hanging out here all alone, are you?  Let’s hear the best of your worst.  It’s OK — I promise to keep it between us and the Internet.

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  1. Anna says:

    How have I never seen that video?? Watching it on repeat all day long!

    • fordeville says:

      Wait. You’ve *never* seen the Band Aid video? I feel like I have failed you until this moment. Or maybe I’m just more of a dinosaur than I thought.

  2. Jen T. says:

    I’m kinda hoping they do some Christmas songs at 121212 on Wednesday, in addition to the classics, of course.

    • fordeville says:

      This reminds me that I forgot to include Bruce’s rendition of “Santa Claus is Comin to Town.” That whole exchange with him & Clarence is priceless.

      {Are you going to that show?! I will die of jealousy.}

  3. Teri says:

    I could listen to Nat King Cole sing me The Christmas Song all the livelong day. I know the Vince Vance version (love that alliteration??) of All I Want For Christmas but seriously, is that kid 4 years old??? Or is it Vivian Vance? No, that was Ethel Mertz. That kid had a high pitched little girl voice. I didn’t know that this song was released in ’89 so now I’m guessing he’s been through puberty.

    • fordeville says:

      So let me clear up the Vince Vance singer thing, because it mystified me for years until I researched it.
      Vince is not singing. He’s a band member. It’s a woman named Lisa Layne, who I assume was one of the Valiants, at least for a while.

      • Teri says:

        Seriously?? Whenever I’d hear the song on my radio, it would just say Vince Vance, no chick’s name, no Valiant’s name so I assumed it was him and he was around 6 years old. Thanks for clearing up the confusion Kim!

  4. Christine G. says:

    Not sure why so many favorites date back to the golden age of MTV–the 80s. That trifecta of Sting, Bono and Simon singing “Do They Know It’s Christmas” made my heart go pitter-patter every time it was on (once or twice and hour, I estimate). But the only song better than Billy Squier’s in-the-MTV-studio version of “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You” is the world’s only Canadian reggae singer, live in that same studio. Bryan Adams “We’re Having a Reggae Christmas”. Youtube it. Alan Hunter moshing, Peewee in dreads. Masterpiece.

  5. Anna says:

    My fav Christmas song of all time is Eartha Kitt’s ” Santa Baby.” In all its glory: I love the Internets.

  6. Meredith says:

    Kim, this is so fun! I love all the flashbacks and am fist bumping you on every one of these picks! And yes!–“You might be a little dead inside if it doesn’t get to you” re: The Same Old Lang Syne. Bring on the kleenex and the Christmas cheese–I’m so in on this confessional!

  7. OMG, THANK YOU so much Kim. I have always wondered who did the original River song. Some of the older girls at my daughter’s dance school did a lyrical piece to this last weekend and I was silently sobbing into my sleeve like a crazy woman. I love that song so much it hurts. And that scene in Love Actually? Shit, now I’m crying again. Dammit woman, you have great taste in sappy Christmas songs.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Adding baby it’s cold outside and 1000% agreement

    • fordeville says:

      Yeah, I added “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in the honorable mentions, though I was conflicted about it. I’m pretty sure he’s slipping her a rufie.

  9. Valerie says:

    Hate to admit it since I too am not a Mariah Carey fan but I just love “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Also, Boney M, “Mary’s Boy Child”. Vintage Andy Williams and Nat King Cole get me everytime as well.

  10. Julia says:

    Meleklikimaka by Bette Midler is one of my favorites and Its’s a Marshmellow World by Dean Martin. I like Christmas Music all year around but I feel like a freakshow when I listen to out loud so I sneak listen to it on my ipod. My Family thinks I am nuts anyway during this season because I would tinsel in your food if I could get away with it whithout killing someone.

  11. dumb mom says:

    Oh man, that video! And, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of these versions of these songs. Maybe I need to beef up my cheesy Christmas song playlist a bit!

  12. Holy crikey, I was just mentioning Do they know it’s Christmas in my next blog and said the SAME thing about trying to identify which singer was singing which part!! I listen to Sarah Machlachlan sing that River song on her Christmas CD in my car over, and over, and over…
    I hate the Christmas Shoes song, but you know another good one? Neil Diamond’s Christmas song. Love that!! Oh, and Barbara Streisand singing Ava Maria. Wait, is that weird that she’s Jewish? Maybe it was someone else. Oh well, I love it!

  13. sparkling74 says:

    I love the super cheesy Christmas songs but except for All I Want For Christmas (a huge fave) I have no idea about any of those songs. And I am a child of the 80s. I was thinking more along the lines of the Carpenter’s Christmas Album or any of the old country singers or, God help, Dominc the Donkey when you said cheese.

    Oh, and I am with the frugalista- that Christmas Shoes song has GOT to go. Now. What a horrid, horrid thing to play on the radio in what should be a joyous season!!

  14. JLAsMama says:

    My very favorite cheesy Christmas song is “Feliz Navidad”! I blast it at home or in the car, won’t even allow people to talk while the song is on. I actually like Madonna’s version of Santa Baby. Eartha Kitt’s version is too slow for me. Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”, Bob Seger doing “Little Drummer Boy”, Kenny Rogers “Mary Did you Know?” and Josh Groban singing “O Holy Night” tears. me. up.

  15. Susan from GA says:

    I WEEP when Imhear the Dan Fogelberg song whether it comes on the radio or I hear it at the grocery store. I can’t explain it! It just saddens me tremendously. Glad to know I am not the only one it effects!


  1. […] had started writing a post to link to the (very fun) 2012 Annual Christmas Music Confessional over at a fellow Boston University COM alum’s blog. Late as always, but I finally had a […]

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