PAUL MCCARTNEY "WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME" (1979)
By Mark Nobes, chief editor
Wonderful Christmastime was actually recorded in the summer of 1979 as part of a solo project by Paul McCartney. I can imagine that it would have been pretty difficult to get into the festive spirit in July! Even though members of the band Wings appear in the video, they did not contribute in any way to the recording. In fact, this was purely a solo project recorded for the album McCartney II, and even the "ding dong" choir part is McCatney's voice!
It is estimated that McCartney still receives around £400,000 per year in royalties from the tune, which is played regularly during the Christmas period on TV and radio. The song also featured in the 1998 animation Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie which, no doubt, added a substantial sum to the Sir Paul's coffers.
For those of you into synthesizers, the main riff was created by a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. Obviously, production-wise, it's a pretty basic song, and Sir Paul himself has stated that he is 'embarrassed' by the recording. However, I don't think he should be. The song proves that you don't always need a stack of instruments and a lush production to produce a memorable tune. I like the minimalist style, and it's a song that is still played every Christmas on the radio and on TV, along with all the other old favourites from the 80s, mainly due to a lack of memorable Christmas tunes in recent times.
There's no doubt that it's a Marmite song that divides opinion, but the fact remains that it is loved by many and is a recurring hit. For instance, in the 2020's, it still re-enters the charts every year with fail. In 2023, the song reached #23 in the UK singles chart, which is a testament to McCartney's song writing skills. He knows how to craft a simple but timeless pop melody that sticks in your head, even if you want to deny it!
There have been numerous cover versions of Wonderful Christmastime, the most notable being by Barenaked Ladies, Hilary Duff and Amy Grant. McCartney re-recorded the song in 2013 with the acapella group Straight No Chaser which featured on their EP Under The Influence: Holiday Edition.