by Almonds and Oranges
Did you know? The word Carol comes from the ancient Greek 'choros', which means ‘dancing in a circle’ and from the old French word 'carole', meaning ‘a song to accompany dancing’.
Carols were pagan songs that used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but it’s only the tradition of singing them at Christmas which has really survived.
If you’re looking for tunes to sing or download for the festive season, check out Meravista’s Top 10. Some are traditional compositions that have been rearranged and revamped, some are old favourites and some are past Christmas chart toppers.
NUMBER 10 – Who Put the Stump up My Rump, Bob Rivers
Well, we’ve got to have a funny song in our top 10 and this old chestnut, written and recorded by American radio show host and musician Bob Rivers, raises a laugh (and a few eyebrows) every year.
NUMBER 9 - Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt
Is a light blue 54 convertible on your Christmas list? The wonderful Eartha Kitt recorded Santa Baby in 1953, with Henri René and his orchestra in New York City, and it became a huge hit for her. She reprised the song in the 1954 film New Faces and it can also be heard in the films Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Elf (2003), and Boynton Beach Club (2005). Madonna also covered it for the 1987 charity album A Very Special Christmas.
NUMBER 8 - Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child, Premier Gospel Choir
Whether you’re religious or not, it’s hard not to feel uplifted by the sound of a good gospel choir. This foot-tapping, hand-clapping rendition of Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child, sung by the Premier Gospel Choir from London, UK, deserves a place in our Top 10. The group is now performing under their new name, Faith Works Gospel Choir.
NUMBER 7 - All I Want for Christmas is You, Mariah Carey
First released in 1994, this great pop tune combined with the amazing voice of Mariah Carey had to be a winner. It didn’t quite hit the number one spot in the UK charts but it made it to number two and, to date, it’s Mariah’s best-selling UK single.
NUMBER 6 - Mary’s Boy Child, Boney M
Surprisingly very few Christmas pop songs actually make it to the number one spot for Christmas Day. But Mary’s Boy Child has topped the UK charts at Christmas twice – first when it was originally released by Harry Belafonte in 1957 and again in 1978 when Boney M covered it. It’s a real sing-a-long song and both versions are good, but we think Boney M’s version is superior – sorry Harry!
NUMBER 5 - Silent Night, Kelly Clarkson
(with Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire)
When Austrian primary school teacher Franz Xaver Gruber wrote Silent Night in the 17th century, I bet he never imagined in his wildest dreams that it would go on to become one of the world’s most popular Christmas songs. First performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in an Austrian village, it has been recorded by artists worldwide in many languages, but this performance by Kelly Clarkson and her country singing friends gets Meravista’s vote for being one of the best.
NUMBER 4 - Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee first recorded Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree in 1958, when she was just 13 years old, but it was released three times before it was a hit in 1960. A version of the song was recorded by singer Kim Wilde and comedian Mel Smith in 1987, to raise funds for Comic Relief. It reached number three in the UK Singles Chart during the Christmas season. In 1990 the track was chosen to feature in the blockbuster movie Home Alone and it remains a firm Christmas favourite.
NUMBER 3 – Driving Home for Christmas, Chris Rea
It’s a travesty that this song only made it to number 33 in the UK charts. Originally released in 1986, it peaked at number 53 that year. When it was re-released in 2007, it reached number 33. Supermarket chain Iceland thought it was good, they used it in their Christmas commercials in 1997, 1998 and 2011. Fantastic lyrics, great melody – we love it Chris!
NUMBER 2 - Do They Know It's Christmas, Band Aid
At number two is the original Band Aid song, Do They Know It's Christmas. Band Aid was founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, who released the song to raise money for anti-poverty efforts in Ethiopia. It exceeded the expectations of its producers and became the Christmas number one single that year. Two subsequent re-recordings of the song to raise further money for charity also topped the charts and, this year, the song has been covered for the fourth time and looks set to make the number one spot yet again. The 2014 recording is to raise funds for the fight against Ebola in West Africa.
NUMBER 1 - Little Drummer Boy, Pentatonix
And at number one…..there’s only one word to describe this version of the Little Drummer Boy by Texan a cappella group Pentatonix – superb!
Christmas music in the Algarve
If you’ve read this far, we hope you’ve enjoyed our choice of music. If it’s got you in the mood for more Christmas tunes, take a break from the present wrapping and pack yourself off to an Algarve Carol concert or Carol service.
The first one on our list is tonight!
15th December - 6.30pm: St Vincent's Anglican Chaplaincy, Gorjoes. Christmas Carol service.
19th December - 9pm: Igreja Sâo Sebastiâo, at Loulé. Christmas concert performed by the multinational Coro dos Amigos do Museu in Sâo Bras, are led by maestro Francisco Brazâo.
24th December - Christmas Eve! 6pm: - Julie’s Bar, Sánta Barbara de Nexe. Annual Christmas Carol sing-a-long with mulled wine and mince pies.
25th December - Christmas Day! From 3pm till 4pm: Conrad Algarve Hotel, Almancil. Children’s event – Carols, Father Christmas and surprises under the Christmas tree!
More information on these events, including contact details can be found here on Meravista.
Other Christmas music events around the Algarve include:
18th December – 9pm: Church of Armação de Pêra. Carol Concert held by The Cultural Association Ideias do Levante
21st December - 5pm: TEMPO theatre Portimão. Free Christmas Concert
22nd December - 6.30pm: Teatro Figuras, Faro. Classical Christmas Concert
We’re sure there are a lot more concerts and Carol services not on our list, so listen out for details of one near you!
** please note the Christmas Rock & Swing concert on 21 December at Lagoa Auditorium was listed in error and has been removed.