The All Time, Mostly Indisputable, Top 4 Christmas Covers

Filed in National by on December 11, 2012

4. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – U2 (1987)

There are tons of great covers on that ’87 fundraiser for the Special Olympics, but this one really holds up.   Phil Spector meets U2 – what’s not to like?

3. “The Little Drummer Boy” – David Bowie and Bing Crosby (1977)

The banter is crazy 1970’s TV special writing, but the beauty of version rescues an otherwise insipid song.

2. “The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole (1961)

Nat King Cole simply owns this song. Not a cover version.  (h/t Puck)

1. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” – Bruce Springsteen (1979)

I first heard this at a friend’s house in 1981.  She picked up a bootlegged of the 45 in NYC.  As she laid the needle on the shiny edge of the black disc, she said, “”You will not believe this.”   31 years later – I STILL DON’T BELIEVE IT.   From the banter, to the dirty Clarence Clemmons sax break, the E Street Band in full stride captures everything good, wholesome, and raucous about Christmas in New Jersey.

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Jason330 is a deep cover double agent working for the GOP. Don't tell anybody.

Comments (13)

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  1. puck says:

    Nat King Cole was the first to record the song, so technically it’s not a cover. I didn’t realize it was actually written by The Velvet Fog. But it’s awesome – Cole plus Nelson Riddle, who could ask for more. There’s also a lot of Sinatra/Riddle Christmas songs that hit the right spot.

    If we are allowing first recordings, my vote is for Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” with the original lyrics. Although it does remind me of the blues bar scene in Naked Gun 2-1/2.

  2. Jason330 says:

    Nope. You opened up a spot on the list, but you can’t add that awesome Judy Garland version of that awesome song.

    James Taylor did a pretty good version of it, but I don’t think it is a top 4 finalist.

  3. puck says:

    My quirky favorite is Il est né le divin enfant by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Video is low quality but the audio is OK. There is a lot of suspense in the video to see if the band can finish playing the song before they nod off.

  4. Another Mike says:

    I like your list. I would have to add a few personal favorites: “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by the Whirling Dervishes, “O Holy Night” by Robert Guillaume (performed on “Benson”) and just about any cover by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

  5. puck says:

    I gotta go with Rudolph covered by Gene Autry.

  6. pandora says:

    I’m a sucker for Christmas songs. Love “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Dean Martin and Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! by Lena Horne. Ditto on the Little Drummer Boy by Bing and Bowie.

    The song I never connected with was Frosty The Snowman. Just don’t like it.

  7. socialistic ben says:

    Back Door Santa, BB King

  8. puck says:

    Turns out “Sleigh Ride” by the Ronettes is a cover. So is “Jingle Bell Rock” by Brenda Lee, which is the version that sticks in my mind.

    Actually most Christmas songs are covers I guess.

  9. jim center says:

    Love the Kinks, “Father Christmas”

  10. Linda says:

    Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison and Mary Did You Know – Kenny Rogers & Wynonna Judd a martini and Christmas lights . . .

  11. Joanne Christian says:

    “O Holy Night” as sung by Andy Williams does it for me. I can’t even stand to hear any one else’s version. The album cover just a typical tuxedoed Andy for the holiday.

  12. John Young says:

    My vote is for The Blind Boys of Alabama with Daryl Hall on It Came Upon a Midnight Clear:

  13. Michelle M says:

    Years ago, WXPN played a version of O Holy Night by New Orleans singer Irma Thomas. It gave me the chills. It wasn’t on a CD or DVD at the time so I’ll be checking to see if it is now.