We’re feeling festive here at Into the Groove, and what better way to get into the holiday spirit than with Christmas songs from our favorite decade? So grab a pair of leg warmers and a cup of hot chocolate, and check out side A of the Ultimate 80s Christmas Grooves mixtape.
1. Christmas Time by Bryan Adams
Christmas Time by Bryan Adams is one of my favorites from the 1980s. The single was released on clear, green vinyl in 1985, with Reggae Christmas as the B side – another great 80s Christmas song. If we’re strictly going by music videos, you can’t beat the one for Reggae Christmas, filmed in the MTV studios with special guest Pee-Wee Herman.
2. Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid
What can I say about the gold standard, be-all end-all of 80s Christmas songs? This song meant so much to me that I still remember buying the 12″ version in Sam Goody while Christmas shopping with my mom at the local mall – and I still have that same record I bought 32 years ago. I also still remember the excitement of watching the song’s music video and seeing footage of all my favorite artists arriving to record the song together.
3. Christmas Is the Time To Say I Love You by Billy Squier
Sure it’s a little cheesy, but you can’t help but sing along to Billy Squier’s holiday rock song. Released in 1981 as the B side to his hit single My Kinda Lover, Christmas Is the Time To Say I Love You is another song known for its music video, which, like Bryan Adams’ Reggae Christmas, was filmed at MTV studios. (Boy, those original VJs sure had fun.)
4. Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses
If you have ever been alone at the holidays, you can relate to Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, whose single heroine decides with a bah humbug that she’s going to skip Christmas altogether this year. But it is Christmas after all, so there’s ultimately a happy ending when she runs into that guy she’s been chasing all year on Christmas Eve. One of the best Christmas songs of any decade, in my opinion.
Christmas Wrapping was first released in 1981 on the compilation album A Christmas Record by ZE Records.
5. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town by Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band
If Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town doesn’t get you into the Christmas spirit, your heart just may be two sizes too small. Although it was recorded at a concert in 1975, I still consider it an 80s song because it was released twice in the 80s – once in 1981 on the children’s album In Harmony 2 and again in 1985 on the B side of My Hometown, a single from Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. album.
6. 2000 Miles by The Pretenders
Such a sad and beautiful song about being apart from a loved one. It was originally released in 1983 from The Pretenders’ third studio album Learning to Crawl. Although it’s considered a Christmas song because the lyrics reference Christmas time, the song was written by Chrissie Hynde for The Pretenders’ original guitar player, James Honeyman-Scott, who passed away in 1982 at age 25. The song has appeared on several Christmas compilation albums, including one of my favorites, VH1: Big 80s Christmas.
7. Winter Wonderland by Eurythmics
Annie Lenox lends a stunning vocal to this 1934 Christmas classic. Eurythmics’ version appeared on the compilation album A Very Special Christmas, which was released October 12, 1987. It brought together some of the biggest music artists of the 80s, all doing cover versions of Christmas standards – with the exception of Run DMC, who offered their original composition Christmas in Hollis. The album raised millions of dollars for the Special Olympics.
I don’t believe the song was ever released as a 45.
8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by U2
This song was originally performed by Darlene Love and included on the 1963 compilation album A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records. U2 lent their version of Christmas (Baby Please Come), again, to the album A Very Special Christmas, with original singer Love providing backing vocals on the track. A 12 inch promo release for the compilation album included the U2 cover, as well as three others: Back Door Santa by Bon Jovi, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by John Mellencamp, and Merry Christmas Baby by Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band (all excellent choices as well for an 80s Christmas mix, by the way.)
And that concludes side A. So grab a cassette tape and start recording. And check back soon for side B of the Ultimate 80s Christmas Grooves mixtape.