Advent Calendar 2022: Day 15 ⛄️

It’s another packed day behind number 15 on my Advent Calendar: three more songs, one of which I haven’t played before, plus a bonus song and an old favourite of my ads – yes, Hafod days are here again.

Let’s get things off to a rousing start. I played this one for the first time last year, and you guys seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I’d bring it back again:

When I played this last year I said that I thought I might be taking a chance with it. Why? Well, the fount of all knowledge tells me that George Thorogood And The Destroyers are an American band who have sold more than 15m records worldwide since they formed in 1973, but haven’t exactly set the UK charts alight in that time. Wikipedia even missed their star moment, which I had to fill in by reference to the Official Charts Company’s archive: always a useful source. This told me that the band had only ever reached the UK charts with their eponymous debut album, released in 1977, which peaked at #67 and spent a grand total of, wait for it, one week in the chart. Frankly, I was amazed at this, as they are a familiar band on our touring circuit, and even recorded one of their live albums over here. They have had tv appearances, and I find it hard to believe that we haven’t ever bought any of their records in sufficient quantities to get them a chart placing. They are a fun band, as the video shows, and a good time is always had by all who go to their shows. I’ve never been, but a friend at work once did and he raved about it for days afterwards, once the buzzing in his ears subsided. I’ve loved this song since I first heard it, way way back: it was released as a non-album single in 1983 but Wikipedia doesn’t record any chart placings for it, anywhere. But what do they know? I hope it did the intended job of blowing away any cobwebs that might have been forming in your head!

Today’s second song is one that I have also played before, and which I rather like. It is about the loneliness some people feel at Christmas, especially if life isn’t working out the way they hoped or planned. I think it is a beautiful song, and the video is superb:

Each year from 2006 to 2016 The Killers released a Christmas song to raise money for the Product Red charity, whose aim is to help increase awareness and reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in eight African countries. These were combined into an album, Don’t Waste Your Wishes, in 2016. Many of these singles made the lower reaches of the UK charts – more than they did in the US, in fact. This one got to #92 in the UK, presumably a low placing in the face of too much competition from the usual re-released dross that fills the charts at this time of year. Later in this series I will again be playing the more upbeat song they put out in 2011 but I have always felt that this one, the 2013 offering, is the best of the bunch. The video stars Owen Wilson, in the role of a struggling actor, with Harry Dean Stanton being heard as the ‘voice of reason’ and making a brief cameo appearance. The song was written by the band in collaboration with Taylor Goldsmith, of the band Dawes, and Irving Berlin gets a writing credit too, for the inclusion of some of the lyrics from a little number called White Christmas. If you know the music of Dawes you will recognise how much of an influence Taylor had in this: in all honesty, this could really be a Dawes song, as it is so typical of their style. It is a gorgeous song, performed wonderfully, all brought together by a video which is a perfect fit.

Today’s final regular song marks a first for me. Not being particular fan of the pop music juggernaut that is Ed Sheeran I’ve never felt the urge to play one of his songs. But as this one is a duet by him with a long time favourite of mine, I thought I’d break the habit of a blogging lifetime:

Merry Christmas was Ed Sheeran’s first Christmas single. He was invited to write it by Elton John, who had previous for this time of year with Step Into Christmas. The single and this video were released on 3 December 2021, and it debuted at #1 in the UK chart on 10 December. It stayed there for two weeks but then became 2021’s Christmas #2 single on 24 December, having been knocked off the top spot by Sausage Rolls for Everyone by LadBaby, a parody of Merry Christmas which featured both Ed and Reg. As a result, 2021 became the first year that the Christmas number one and two singles were two versions of the same song by the same artists. Both records were released to raise funds for charities: the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation benefitted from the first, and the Trussell Trust (which supports food banks) from the LadBaby record. This one returned to #1 the week after Christmas, but it didn’t do as well in the US, only reaching #55. It has also returned to this year’s chart, where it is currently sitting at #4, so I’m making one of my fairly rare steps into what is down with the kids. LadBaby will be releasing this year’s offering on Friday, making their bid to have the Christmas #1 for the fifth successive year, which would be a record. I hope they do it, as their songs are fun and are supporting a worthy cause.

Now that I’ve said all of this you’ll be expecting me to play the LadBaby one now, won’t you? Oh, alright then, have a little bonus on me:

I said there would be another ad today. Time for the next in the Hafod Hardware catalogue, I think. This is what they gave us in 2019 – the one that went viral and brought them to national attention:

That was the one that made a star of little Arthur Lewis Jones, who was just 2 at the time. He’ll be 5 now, and I’m really hoping that by next year he wants to make another of these and persuades his Dad to do it. I still can’t watch that without a tear forming. Everything about it is perfection: the story that revolves around Arthur helping his grandparents in their shop, the clever way he morphs into his dad, Tom, at the end, and how Tom imitates Arthur’s 👍 greeting, all topped off by Andrea Von Kampen’s beautiful version of the Alphaville song, Forever Young, which underpins the whole message. Trying, and failing, to copy a good idea the song was also used the following year by McDonalds in their Christmas advert: proving yet again that there is no justice, the incredibly inferior version they used, by Becky Hill – a ‘reality’ tv show winner – made it to #35 in the UK singles chart. I defy anyone to listen to both versions and not prefer Andrea’s!

That’s all for today, a real mixed bag of fun and emotions, I think. Just time for an image of the day for you:

See you again tomorrow, I trust 🧸