#23 – Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade

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Sometimes it feels that life has gotten more sophisticated over the last few years. The internet gave everybody a voice even if they didn’t necessarily deserve one. Smartphones gave people more independence and the ability to vent that voice whether they were in the gents or in Gibraltar. And shops like Primark and Topshop have given people the chance to dress in the same style as fashion icons, albeit in clothes that are made of the skin of the people who make them.

So in general people seem savvier, more in tune with quality rather than novelty and that is represented with the low placing of Merry Xmas Everybody in this countdown. I’m sure many of you are shocked, and I’m receiving news that Wolverhampton, where Slade originated from, is currently in a crisis at the news not seen since their soccer side were relegated two seasons in a row.

See, when I was a kid and in Primary school, the best time of the year was the Christmas period. There was Santa’s Grotto, Christmas based word searches, but the best bit was the Christmas dinner, which looking back was probably made with the same skin that adorns your Primark skinny jeans. As an eight year old though you’re less discerning about food, as long as it tastes nice.

I remember the Christmas dinners vividly, the whole school would dine en masse on long tables, there would be watery supermarket own brand squash in plastic beakers and the food would be presented on regulation grey dinner trays.

It was never the food that was the highlight for me though, it was the soundtrack. This was a pre internet age, and before the time I could control what music I listened to on a regular basis, so the school stereo system playing a generic Christmas hits album was always a delight.

Remember you can keep up to date with my own Christmas countdown on this handy Spotify playlist which you can subscribe to.

The tracks on the school CD player would follow the usual structure – a few carols, some Stop The Cavalry, before culminating with the one-two smash of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day by Wizzard (number four in the 1973 Christmas charts behind Slade’s #1 hit) and then Merry Xmas Everyone would play as the crackers were pulled and custard was spilled.

That was then though, and I get the vibe that Merry Xmas Everybody has dipped in popularity in recent time, while songs like Fairytale of New York have become the favourite Christmas song for many people, even those that have never even heard of The Pogues.

Why the fall from grace? Perhaps it was the 2003 news that Slade bassist Dave Glover had gotten engaged to serial killer Rose West, or maybe it was the realisation that the lead singer of the band was a grown man called Noddy.

The song was named in 2007 as the UK’s most popular Christmas song, but considering the same people who voted for the song also voted for the current government we have in power, it’s easy to discredit that.

This was actually the first Christmas number one to be Christmas related, in terms of it being recorded with a Christmas theme from an established band. Slade were one of the biggest bands in the country in the early seventies, but as anyone who has ever watched a documentary on that period of time knows, the country was apparently a shambles, with rubbish piled up on the streets, grave-diggers on strike, and worst of all England goalkeeper Gordon Banks retired from soccer.

Lead singer Noddy Holder spoke about the creation of the song in a 2007 interview with The Daily Mail.

“I think people wanted something to cheer them up – and so did I. That’s why I came up with the line ‘Look to the future now, it’s only just begun’. Once I got the line, ‘Does your Granny always tell you that the old ones are the best’, I knew I’d got a right cracker on my hands”

One can only assume that the corresponding article in the Mail was filled with pictures of Noddy semi nude on the beach, with a comments section open for bitter nobodies to completely trash the man

I believe the above photo of Holder with a sausage near his mouth really signifies just how popular the song was on release. The song sold a million copies when first released, and at the time was the fastest selling single of all time. Such a success was Merry Xmas Everybody that it stayed at the top spot until the middle of January 1974, and only dropped out of the charts in February of that year, before charting again in every decade since.

Another accolade for the song was that it beat out known brute Gary Glitter to the top of the charts, which no doubt infuriated Glitter to a furious degree. The success of the song in terms of its initial charting and staying power into the new year is in contrast to today’s Christmas hits, which post December 25th drop faster than Miley Cyrus at the sight of something tasteful.

There have been a few covers of the song over the years, with differing success. Kate Nash absolutely butchered it like she has on everything since her superb debut album

While American Brendan Benson AKA the guy who wasn’t Jack White in The Raconteurs also gave it a go, which wasn’t too bad.

The best cover of sorts has to be this homage by a gentleman called Teletext Alex, who took the song, and replaced all the lyrics with the surnames of soccer players. Seriously, it’s brilliant.

There we go then, a high placing for a much loved song, but one that befits its current role in today’s society. Shame though, as Slade genuinely were a massive band back in the seventies, Merry Xmas Everyone was one of six number one hits the band had, in a time when people actually bought singles that weren’t pop songs with expensive videos.

Or as Teletext Alex sang in the above video “Fritz Connolly Hurst Keegan”.

If that wasn’t nonsense enough, let’s end as always with two differing YouTube comments for Merry Xmas Everyone. Remember to share your thoughts in this comments section or on twitter. Try and make them more legible than this lot…

To catch up on the rest of the countdown CLICK HERE


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