Growing up in the United Kingdom, one of the more memorable elements of Christmas was the music that bombarded the airwaves day-in-day-out from November onward. And I'm talking huge hits, many of which shot to number one and continued their popularity some twenty, thirty, perhaps forty years after their release. And yet, as I embark on my sixth Christmas in the United States, it has come to my attention that these same hits - ones I initially assumed were likely just as big in the U.S. - are nowhere to be heard.
And so here is a list of 7 such hits. To my American readers, I encourage you to look past the tackiness of each video; after all, it's Christmas (and all of these songs are from the seventies and eighties).
1. Merry Xmas Everybody, by Slade.
Released in 1973, Slade's most famous hit has become something of an anthem among the British public at Christmas, and is widely heralded as the song that invented the race for the Christmas number 1 single! However, Merry Xmas Everybody failed to make a splash in the United States and, as such, is virtually never played on American airwaves. For my American readers, here is the popular rock anthem in all its wonderful glory.
2. I wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, by Wizzard
Like Slade, the long bearded members of the glam rock band Wizzard scored a huge Christmas hit with their song I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday in the 1970s. Since then, the song has become one of Britain's most beloved Christmas songs and has featured in what seems like every Christmas-themed British movie or TV show at some point or another. But, despite its popularity, it is pretty much unknown in the United States.
3. Driving Home for Christmas, by Chris Rea
When this song first hit the record stores in the UK in 1988, it actually performed quite poorly in the charts. However, standing the test of time, Chris Rea's Driving Home for Christmas is that song Brits love to hear while they're... well... driving home for Christmas. But, with the exception of the occasional airplay stateside, the song is about as well-known in the United States as Rea himself.
4. Mistletoe and Wine, by Cliff Richard
Love him or hate him, Cliff Richard has surely reserved his place in the history of British Christmas music with his 1989 number 1 hit Mistletoe And Wine. While the video, and indeed the song itself, veer heavily on the cheesy side, Mistletoe and Wine nonetheless gets Brits in the mood for Christmas. However, despite the song's blatant Christian themes, it has failed to enter the collective American conscience.
5. Merry Christmas Everyone, by Shakin' Stevens
Perhaps equally cheesy is Shakin' Stevens' delayed Christmas hit Merry Christmas Everyone. I say delayed; it was released a year after its intended release date due to a potential clash with Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? While the latter continues to gain airplay in the United States, Merry Christmas Everyone is largely unheard of.
6. Lonely This Christmas, by Mud
One of the less upbeat Christmas songs, Lonely This Christmas - a 1974 hit by British glam rock band Mud - is a popular tune at this time of year in the UK. With a lead singer who sounds and looks like Elvis, Mud were inspired by American music of the 1950s. Strange, then, that their famous Christmas hit didn't reach the same levels of popularity in the United States, where it is seldom ever played.
7. Fairytale of New York, by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl
Widely regarded nowadays as Britain's best Christmas song, Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl is one of those heartwarming hits that really gets you in the mood for the festivities. And with New York in the title and a distinctly Irish sound to it, you'd think Fairytale of New York would be "eaten up" in the United States. While it does occasionally get airplay, it is no way near the hit that it is in the UK.
Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and has written for Anglotopia. In addition to his expatriate musings, Laurence is a keen composer of orchestral music. To hear Laurence's compositions, follow him on SoundCloud.
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