IT’S that time of year when the newspapers, the glossy magazines and social media are full of 10-best festive lists:

•10 best ways to cook your turkey.
•10 best Christmas films.
•10 top Christmas gifts.
•10 top DUP excuses.
And, of course…
•10 top Christmas songs.

The latter category is usually dominated by Mariah Carey with All I Want for Christmas and Shane MacGowan and Kirsty McColl with Fairytale with a mention in dispatches for Bing Crosby and White Christmas, Chris Rea and Driving Home for Christmas and Slade and Merry Christmas Everybody.

So ubiquitous are the lists that most of us could easily put together a top ten list of the top ten lists that get on our wick; so in order to break the monotony Squinter thought he’d turn things around a bit and do a top ten list with a difference. So herewith Top Ten Christmas Songs That Get on Squinter’s Wick. Squinter has avoided the temptation to put in songs whose awfulness is such that nobody bought them and nobody knows them: John Denver’s Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk for Christmas or Tiny Tim’s Santa Claus has got AIDS This Year. Nope, these are songs that you’ll regularly hear while strolling the aisles of your local supermarket or on one of those Nawn Ahlin radio stations on which all the presenters speak like Graeme McDowell or James Galway. Merry Christmas...
• Little Drummer Boy, Bing Crosby and David Bowie
So an old bloke in a cardigan answers the door of his castle to find a young bloke with odd-coloured eyes in a light suit shaking off snow and asking to use his piano. After a bit of banter, the two make their way to the piano and launch into a perfectly harmonised version of Little Drummer Boy. It’s at this stage that Squinter fully expects one of the two to produce an axe or Frankenstein’s monster to lumber down the stone stairs. The younger guy, however, insists on changing the lyrics to include the words ‘peace on Earth’ and a few lines about children being made to be aware and made to care. The song becomes the most popular Christmas duet of all time and Squinter still has no idea why.
• Stay Another Day, East 17
Now don’t get Squinter wrong, nothing wrong with writing a song about suicide – after all, some of the world’s most enduring art was created from a place of pain and distress. But when a song about loss and longing is turned into a Christmas song at the suggestion of a record label – “Throw in some reindeer bells at the end and they’ll lap it up” – some of the festive charm inevitably drains away.

RINGER: Stay Another Day wasn't a Christmas song at all – but it's amazing what a few bells can do

RINGER: Stay Another Day wasn't a Christmas song at all – but it's amazing what a few bells can do

So at the Christmas party this year after you’ve rocked around the Christmas tree, hung your stocking on the wall, revealed all you want for Christmas and had your fill of mistletoe and wine, you can prance around in your elf costume to the melancholy air of somebody mourning for a dead relative and wishing they didn’t have to go away. It’s what Santa would want.
• Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses
A Christmas song written by a punk band in a bad mood at a time when they were struggling is hardly going to fill a person full of festive cheer – and this hardy holiday perennial doesn’t fail to send Squinter into a downer with the chorus repeating over and over:

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, but I think I’ll miss this one this year.

The rest of the song is a catalogue of Christmas complaints hooked up to an incongruously jaunty melody: forced to spend Christmas alone; bumps into fanciable bloke and screws it up; turkey too small; forgot the cranberries. The twee ending – girl and guy get together in a shop while both are searching for said missing cranberries – isn’t enough of a festive high to make the preceding three minutes worth the advent agony.
• 2,000 Miles, The Pretenders
There’s nothing to say that a Christmas song has to be a happy-clappy sleigh bells and tinsel singalong. Indeed, depressing dirges have their place in the Christmas canon: The Power of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood; A Winter’s Tale, David Essex; Merry Xmas (War is Over) John Lennon and Yoko Ono. But there’s something desperately depressing and hopeless about this grim tale of a woman who’s lost her man to nobody-knows-what, no matter how many sleigh-bells are chucked in there.
• Stop the Cavalry, Jona Lewie
Squinter never imagined for a second that the trumpety tale of thousands of men being cut to ribbons by German machine guns would be the perfect background as you shop for your Brussels sprouts and mince pies. And it turns out he’s right. It’s an anti-war song, which is all well and good, but the thought of a young man cowering in a snowy trench before going over the top to face his doom doesn’t make the egg nog go down any easier.  
• A Spaceman Came Travelling, Chris de Burgh
The star over the stable in Bethlehem is not a star at all, right? It’s a space ship, right? And there’s a spaceman inside, right? And he looks down on the manger, right? And he tells Mary and Joseph, who are starting to panic a bit, ‘I have a message for you,’ right? And it’s a message not just for you, right? It’s for all mankind, right? And Mary and Joseph look on open-mouthed as the spaceman tells them the message, right? And the message is:

“La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la...”

We can only imagine how much better a world this would be if only mankind had accepted the spaceman’s advice to “La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.”
• Run Rudolph Run, Chuck Berry
We can argue all day about whether Chuck’s feelgood brand of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll lite fits snugly into the festive season, but regardless of what you think of the combo, Squinter finds it difficult to sing along to the lyrics.

Said Santa to a girl child ‘What would please you most to get?’
‘A little baby doll that can cry, sleep, drink and wet.’

And Squinter can’t sing along because multiple run-ins with the law showed that Chuck was interested both in children and peeing in a much more sinister way than his song suggests. He had a predilection for underage girls and amassed a collection of illicitly filmed footage of women in the bathrooms of his various properties – film that the police found when they were raiding his house for drugs. Ho, ho, holy ffffflip!
• I Believe in Father Christmas, Greg Lake
A video from the Middle East with footage of fighting in the Six-Day War and Vietnam, this number’s not likely to get the party going if you whack it on YouTube on Christmas Day. Written by prog rock legend Greg Lake and King Crimson member Peter Sinfield, this one’s another Christmas complaint – this time about the loss of innocence and how the season’s message of peace and goodwill has been sacrificed in the altar of commercialism. And while Squinter deplores the obsession with getting and spending as much as the next person, he’s not sure he want’s to hear about capitalist running dogs when he's dancing on top of a table wearing a Christmas jumper. In fact, he knows he doesn’t.

• Sleigh Ride, The Ronettes
Just hear those sleigh bells ringin’
And ting-ting tinglin’ too,
Come on it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you…

Like most people, Squinter digs the Ronettes’ 1950s doo-wap/soul mash-up (who doesn’t love Be My Little Baby and Baby, I Love You?). And at a stretch he’ll agree that the bright and breezy genre works with a festive theme. Trouble is, so many of these songs appear in Martin Scorsese movies that every time the song is played Squinter half expects somebody to get whacked – and Christmas songs aren’t supposed to give you anxiety. Be My Little Baby plays during the opening scene of Scorsese’s breakthrough movie, Mean Streets, and his other films are littered with musical homages to the music of his youth. And if the legendary director does a remake of Bad Santa then maybe the song will find its true Christmas place.