They’re so ubiquitous at this end of the year that you’d be forgiven for thinking you know everything there is to know about the evergreen festive standards. But did you know that…
1. Mariah Carey has released a children’s book based on ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, including the full lyrics accompanied by ‘lively yuletide illustrations’.
2. Boy George overslept in New York on the day he was supposed to be recording a key vocal on ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’. He took Concorde to make it to the session in time.
3. PRS For Music estimate that 42 per cent of the earth’s population has heard Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’.
4. ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ was recorded in the studio next door to that in which John Lennon was recording ‘Mind Games’
5. ‘White Christmas’ ended the Vietnam War in 1975 – it was used as the radio code signal for the evacuation of Vietnamese people who had assisted the US from Saigon.
6. While Wizzard were recording ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’, engineer Steve Brown turned the air conditioning down to its coldest setting to set the atmosphere.
7. ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ was the result of John Lennon realising, after the success of ‘Imagine’ that it worked best to “put your political message across with a little honey”.
8. Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl’s parts on The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale Of New York’ were recorded separately – the pair never sang the song together in the studio.
9. The NYPD doesn’t actually have a choir, so The Pogues used their Pipes And Drums group in the video for ‘Fairytale Of New York’ instead. They turned up for the shoot even more drunk than The Pogues themselves and refused to appear unless they were given more booze.
10. The idea of ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed-Reindeer’ having a bright red nose was originally rejected as a red nose is a signifier of chronic alcoholism.
11. Brenda Lee was just 13-years-old when she recorded the original version of ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’.
12. Bing Crosby’s version of ‘White Christmas’ is the best-selling single of all time, having sold more that 50 million copies. Writer Irving Berlin foresaw its success when he wrote it, telling his secretary, “I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”
13. In the song ‘Driving Home For Christmas’, Chris Rea is singing about driving to Middlesborough in a Mini.
14. The video for ‘Last Christmas’ was the last time that George Michael was filmed without a beard.
15. The lyrics to ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ originally continued “it may be your last”, but the song was ‘jollied up’ before appearing in the film Meet Me In St Louis.
16. In the TV adaptation of the musical Scraps that it was written for, Cliff Richard’s song ‘Mistletoe And Wine’ was sung by Twiggy, playing the part of a lusty prostitute.