So, have you been a righteous dude or babe this year? Hoping that Santa
will put some bitchin’ 80s themed
presents under your tree? And, of course, it’s the time of year for,
like, hot apple cider (and hot toddies), carol singing, and thirty
varieties of cookies.
(But if Mom thinks I’m putting on that gnarly reindeer sweater again for
the family card photo, she can totally think again. I’m so sure, Mom!)
Crank up these
tubular holiday tunes to get in the mood for the season. There were,
like, a bazillion of totally radical holiday
songs, so I
chose my top dozen and listed some more at the bottom of the page. Give
them a listen while you deck your halls, wrap your gifts, and trim your
tree. You could even make a special holiday mix tape for that
80’s-loving boy or girl on your list.
12. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Mel Smith and Kim Wilde
This single was recorded for Comic Relief, a British charity that aids
international famine, in 1987. You’ll recognize Kim Wilde as the singer
of hits like “Kids in America” and “You Keep Me Hanging On.” If Mel
Smith seems unfamiliar, then you’re not British; he was a famous sketch
comedic actor in Great Britain and is a current stage actor. Peggy Lee
first recorded this playful Christmas classic in 1958.
11. “Rock and Roll Christmas” by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
I challenge you to listen to this song and not do the twist in your
computer chair. Impossible! This early eighties Christmas video features
some cool sax playing and great dancing by the crew at MTV. (I see you,
10. “Funky, Funky Christmas” by New Kids on the Block
9. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy
This silly hit had us gleefully singing along in the early eighties. Poor
Grandma, who’d been drinking too much eggnog and forgot her medication,
met disaster at the hands of Santa. It’s full of awesome lines like
“incriminating Claus marks on her back” and “They should never give a
license to a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves.” The song was
first written and performed in 1979, but the video was released in 1983
and the album came out in 1984, so I’m calling this one a legitimate
child of the eighties.
8. “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC
In 1987, Run-DMC gifted us with this holiday gem about Christmas on Hollis
Avenue in Queens. Check out the Wizard on the naughty/nice Santa
computer. And that elf is TOTALLY naughty! It was part of the album “A
Very Special Christmas”
that benefitted the Special Olympics. Since ’87, a new version of this
benefit album has been released yearly.
7. “Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You” by Billy Squier
This 1981 video is worth watching alone for the clips of MTV VJ’s like
Martha Quinn and Mark Goodman, but the song is exuberant holiday fun. It
makes me so nostalgic for the early days of MTV.
6. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by John Mellencamp
Also part 1987’s “A Very Special Christmas” album, this tune is perfect
for John Mellencamp’s boyish southern voice. It’s so adorable in every
way, and it almost makes me forget the angstful confusion that earlier
versions of this song created in me when I was a little kid. Also, HOW
CUTE is that little girl singing at the end?
5. “Frosty the Snowman” by Leon Redbone and Dr. John
This 1988 version of the classic song is totally fabulous. You would have
to be a total Grinch to not dig these dudes’ folksy, scratchy voices in
this bouncy retelling of Frosty’s story. Bumpity bump-bump, bumpity
4. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Hall and Oates
Prepare to snicker at this way-corny 1985 song and video. Hee hee.
Clearly, Daryl and John were having a blast when they acted in it.
Interesting factoid: there are both “Daryl” and “John” versions of this
song, both recorded in 1985. Scroll down and
find both here.
I’m on team Daryl for this one.
3. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid
Bob Geldolf and Midge Ure organized this musical gathering of famous
musicians to benefit victims of famine in Ethiopia. We bought the 45’s
to give as Christmas gifts in 1984, and we still love the song today.
Side note: Watching the video just now solved a decades-old mystery for
me. I always sang “There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world
of stratosphere...” and thought the lyrics were kinda bizarre. Silly me –
it’s “a world of dreaded fear!”
2. “2000 Miles” by The Pretenders
Oh, I’m crazy about this song. It’s glorious wonderful-ness helps ease the
aural horror of Mannheim Steamroller that I’m occasionally subjected to
in December. (*shudder*) I love Chrissy Hynde’s rich voice, I love the
melody, I love the sentiment. This 1983 tune is a year-round treat, but
absolutely lovely at this time of year.
1. “Last Christmas” by Wham!
This 1984 encapsulates the joy of the season so perfectly that it just
makes me smile. Sure, it’s about unrequited love and angst, but
whatever. George Michaels’ expressive eyes, the blowdried hairdos, those
80s fashions, and that high-production, catchy melody are sweet little