16 pretty interesting facts about the world’s biggest Christmas songs

George Michael's beard! The estimated population of Earth that's heard 'Merry Xmas Everybody'! Get you extended family small-talk trivia right here

– This article was originally published in December 2015

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…


Mariah Carey
‘Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special’. CREDIT: Apple TV/Press


In 2015, Mariah Carey released a children’s book based on ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, including the full lyrics accompanied by “lively yuletide illustrations”.


In the song ‘Driving Home For Christmas’, Chris Rea is singing about driving to Middlesborough in a Mini.


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.


John Lennon
John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Denmark in 1970. Credit: Anthony Cox/Keystone/Getty Images.

Slade‘s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ was recorded in the studio next door to that in which John Lennon was recording ‘Mind Games’.


‘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.



Roy Wood in his Wizzard days
Roy Wood in his Wizzard days

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.


‘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”.


The Pogues – Shane Macgowan – 1980S, The Pogues – Shane Macgowan – 1980S (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

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.


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.



In 2009, PRS For Music estimated that 42 per cent of the Earth’s population had heard Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’.


Brenda Lee was just 13 years old when she recorded the original version of ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’.


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!”


In the TV adaptation of the musical Scraps that it was written for, Cliff Richard‘s song ‘Mistletoe And Wine’ was sung by Twiggy, who was playing the part of a sex worker.


The video for ‘Last Christmas’ marked the last time that George Michael was filmed without a beard.


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.


Boy George in 1984. Credit: Getty

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.

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