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Christmas TOTP
December 24, 2011 7:16 AM   Subscribe

So those musicians who had Christmas hits in the 70s and 80s in the UK, what with them coming back year after year, must be made for life, right?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (40 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seems jerky and obvious to ask Shane MacGowan why he doesn't like singing Fairytale anymore.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:29 AM on December 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just for the record, the fictional song from About A Boy which sets up the main character for life was created for the movie version. Here, in all its glory, is Santa's Super Sleigh.

And seriously, how awesome a movie is About A Boy, anyway? Truly a great film. I watch it regularly.
posted by hippybear at 7:41 AM on December 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seriously, it's worth clicking the link just for the picture of Slade and possibly the most amazing pair of boots in all creation.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:00 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The Performing Right Society put out a statement saying Slade's Merry Christmas is the most heard song in the world because royalties come in from more countries than for any other song. The estimate is that it's been heard by 42% of the planet, more than 3 billion people, whether they wanted to hear it or not."

This reinforces the gap between UK stardom and stardom in North America. I grew up in Canada and was a music omnivore for most of my adolescence and early adulthood and for just about any song released from 1975 to 1990 that got any airplay at all, I can hear it note for note in my head: the result of listening to music constantly. Of course, stuff from before that I heard all the time as well. Slade is more or less unknown to me. And not just me: They made the Billboard top 40 exactly twice, both times in 1984, with songs whose titles mean nothing to me. I clicked on the link and listened to their super-mega-hit about Christmas and I am certain I have never heard it before.

tl;dr -- I am the 58%.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:03 AM on December 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


The lead story in the article (unsurprisingly, the one most able to say "look, they ain't making a dime!") features an artist who didn't write the song. So, of course they don't see any money. Anyone who didn't know that doesn't have basic knowledge of how the pop music business works.

Most of the other interviewees wrote their Christmas hits, and have been seeing income from them since day one. Again, no surprise.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:04 AM on December 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


ricochet biscuit: If you were listening to the right radio stations, you probably heard Slade songs but didn't know where they originated. Quiet Riot covered more than a couple of their tunes to great success: Cum On Feel The Noize and Mama We're All Crazee Now.

Slade did have some success on this side of the pond with their Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply album, which featured Run Runaway, which was more than a minor hit. (That album is actually a pretty great 80s power pop album all around -- I recommend it. I remember obsessing over it one summer. And now I'm feeling all nostalgic and will have to listen to it again.)
posted by hippybear at 8:12 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems jerky and obvious to ask Shane MacGowan why he doesn't like singing Fairytale anymore.

Considering that I saw him and the rest of the Pogues perform it on St. Patrck's Day in NYC only 4 or 5 years ago, no it doesn't. His being coy about it in this article is rather insulting, but that's Shane for you.* I love the guy's music, but man, he makes me want to punch out what few teeth he has remaining sometimes.

*Yes, I am aware of the tragic circumstances surrounding Kristy MacColl's death, but as the Wikipedia entry points out Fairytale of New York was re-released in 2005 with half the proceeds going to The Justice For Kristy campaign. Couple that with the fact Shane is not above performing the song live still (with other female singers, no less), and his alluded yet unstated "reluctance" comes off as so much bullshit/publicity trolling.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:43 AM on December 24, 2011


Well, he did hand the writer a perfect closing line, that was nice.
posted by Artw at 8:49 AM on December 24, 2011


This reinforces the gap between UK stardom and stardom in North America.

That’s for sure (although I was a Slade fan, and wrote about Sladest in the early 70s). I am amazed that Boney M, who I have barely even heard of, has two of the top 10 English selling singles of all time. I also don’t know if I’ve ever even heard Paul McCartney’s "Mull of Kintyre" (#4 of the 10), which was a gargantuan hit for him over there, and barely made even the 'Easy Listening' charts in the U.S.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:50 AM on December 24, 2011


In the US, Slade are actually considered something of a aficionado's band, known via Quiet Riot's cover of "Cum on Feel the Noize" and the minor but terrific hit "Run Runaway." This baffles most Brits I meet.
posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on December 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you were listening to the right radio stations, you probably heard Slade songs but didn't know where they originated.

Oh, I know about the Quiet Riot covers, but I am talking about hearing Slade itself. Some people consider Killing Me Softly a Roberta Flack song, some consider it a Fugees song, but I know no one who thinks of it as a Lori Lieberman song.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:52 AM on December 24, 2011


All I can say is that America is much the poorer for it's lack of Slade, though it does at least have slurry Christmas classics by boozed up rat packers. Also, if your lucky, the CD will include a bit of banter about War Bonds and such.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on December 24, 2011


Metafilter: has a pacemaker and is in remarkably good nick.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:47 AM on December 24, 2011


My first Christmas in the UK was so wonderfully bizarre. There were all these Christmas songs that were wholly new to me (and I am pretty big on Christmas songs). It was the musical icing on top of my strangely-flavored Christmas Cake.

Mm, mince pies and mulled wine.
posted by Gordafarin at 10:08 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And then we set fire to food!
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


We did a one-off outdoor xmas gig in Ontario a couple of weeks ago, playing ONLY Christmas classics, and we opened with Slade. Nobody knew it, but you don't really need to.

We also did the Ramones' xmas classic "Happy Christmas (I don't want to fight tonight)" and most of the other songs mentioned in the article. And it snowed.

Fairytale of New York is a BLOODY hard song to sing and play. So many chords, so many words.
posted by unSane at 10:22 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Compare with Paul McCartney, who according to an article at Forbes could make $400,000 - $600,000 annually on Wonderful Christmastime alone. But, of course, he wrote and produced the song himself.
posted by incandenza at 11:32 AM on December 24, 2011


I Believe In Father Christmas was an attack on commercialisation, he says. "When I was a young boy, I remember Christmas being about goodwill on Earth: how did it ever get corrupted into this horrible, present-buying orgy?

That was then. Now he does cranky old ex-rock star reunion tours.
posted by bukvich at 12:03 PM on December 24, 2011 [2 favorites]




My baby brother just narrowly missed getting a Christmas No1 very recently. Like last week. They didn't write the song, but sang it with the original chanteuse who released it a generation ago. It's not the UK, but close by. They would have loved it - never mind the modest money they might have got. Still - #2 aint that bad.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 12:08 PM on December 24, 2011


Paul McCartney seriously bucked the trend for that "70's", "Christmas", and "UK" because apparently he earns about $400,000 each year for Wonderful Christmastime.
posted by sourwookie at 12:23 PM on December 24, 2011


Oh hey icandenza.
posted by sourwookie at 12:24 PM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reinforces the gap between UK stardom and stardom in North America.

You mean that they happen in different countries? It's surprising how many things don't happen in North America, when you get to looking.
posted by howfar at 4:34 PM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


ricochet biscuit: "This reinforces the gap between UK stardom and stardom in North America."

I get the feeling that gap is even larger at Christmas. I'd never even heard of "Greg Lake," much less knew that his Christmas song(s) are apparently famous over there, until I heard him mentioned in the brief intro to John Peel's fabulous program "John Peel's Other Christmas Records." [that'a self-link, fyi]

Incidentally, everyone should listen to "John Peel's Other Christmas Records," because it's just about the best thing ever.
posted by koeselitz at 5:02 PM on December 24, 2011


sourwookie: Oh hey icandenza
That's incandenza!
posted by hincandenza at 5:31 PM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reinforces the gap between UK stardom and stardom in North America.

No doubt the two traditional playlists are widely divergent.
Which could mean (I'n guessing) that few in the UK ever had to listen to The Chipmunks Christmas song over and over all day long until they know all the lyrics "I still want a hula hoop" decades later.

If so, then that "gap" is a blessed buffer indeed. Now - get off my lawn.
posted by Twang at 6:24 PM on December 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was briefly confusing with the 'kerching kerching' (which I initially read to rhyme with lurching). Oh...you mean 'ka-ching!'

Anyway, tonight I listened to all kinds of xmas hits, mainly John Lennon-based due to the power of pandora. Don't know slade or any of the others really.

Wish I had one hit wonder royalties and could spend each day watching 'countdown'.
posted by bquarters at 1:12 AM on December 25, 2011


Incidentally, everyone should listen to "John Peel's Other Christmas Records," because it's just about the best thing ever.

Yes, indeed. Lots of great stuff including Lynn White's "If You Can't Come Home For Christmas" and Peel also sees fit to close with a great Otis Redding track. Thanks, koeselitz
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:41 AM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Koeselitz, if you havn't heard of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, that's nothing to do with the Atlantic divide. Actually, I'm in the UK and I've never heard of a Greg Lake solo Christmas song.
posted by salmacis at 7:33 AM on December 25, 2011


Greg Lake solo Christmas song? I fervently hope it's about a little kid that gets a Tarkus under the tree.
posted by box at 9:07 AM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


For those who wonder, this is that Greg Lake Christmas song, which I gather is famous in the UK but who knows.
posted by koeselitz at 9:13 AM on December 25, 2011


It certainly is famous in the UK, at least as familiar as Slade and Lennon/Yoko.
posted by unSane at 9:55 AM on December 25, 2011


One curious thing about the trans-Atlantic Christmas song gap closing is that the last few times I've been in the supermarket, they've played The Red Flag at least once.

Or maybe socialism's making a comeback. That would be nice.
posted by Grangousier at 10:03 AM on December 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am amazed that Boney M, who I have barely even heard of, has two of the top 10 English selling singles of all time. I also don’t know if I’ve ever even heard Paul McCartney’s "Mull of Kintyre" (#4 of the 10)

Yep. I lived in England from 76-79 as a USAF military brat (Bentwaters!), and upon returning to the States in summer '79, I was baffled that none of my new friends/classmates had ever heard of Boney M, or McCartney's tune.

Thankfully, ABBA did make the Atlantic crossover, so there's that.
posted by davidmsc at 8:54 AM on December 26, 2011


Thankfully, ABBA did make the Atlantic crossover, so there's that.

And while there's no ABBA Christmas song (that I'm aware of), they did do this really excellent tune which works well for the coming week.
posted by hippybear at 11:22 AM on December 26, 2011


This article has finally made me flip that IP laws are completely ridiculous.
I've kind of always felt it was reasonable to get some annuity income from a work like a Christmas song.
But really, why should a 1970s musician earn 5 to 10k pounds each year, effectively in perpetuity, for a few days or weeks of work four decades ago? The artist can (and likely does) still earn good money touring, or can go do a different job.
If I take a job as a policeman, for example, my labor in a three week period may be quite a bit more crucial crucial, yet I have to turn up again next week to get paid. Why should a music author get 70 years plus of royalties?
posted by bystander at 5:24 AM on December 27, 2011


sigh...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:30 AM on December 27, 2011


But really, why should a 1970s musician earn 5 to 10k pounds each year, effectively in perpetuity, for a few days or weeks of work four decades ago? The artist can (and likely does) still earn good money touring, or can go do a different job.
If I take a job as a policeman, for example, my labor in a three week period may be quite a bit more crucial crucial, yet I have to turn up again next week to get paid. Why should a music author get 70 years plus of royalties?


> "He still believes in the labor theory of capital!"
> laughinggirls.jpg
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:54 AM on December 27, 2011


For those who wonder, this is that Greg Lake Christmas song, which I gather is famous in the UK but who knows.

This is certainly played in the US, unlike some of the others. Although maybe the version we get is a cover?
posted by smackfu at 10:02 AM on December 27, 2011


Odd. I'd never heard it. It appears from the Wikipedia page, however, that there is a U2 cover that might be more popular. Anyhow, the original never charted here, whereas it hit number 2 in the UK.
posted by koeselitz at 10:55 AM on December 27, 2011


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