Five festive songs from Wales

Vinyl record on a turntable

Last updated: 10 November 2009

Christmas is traditionally a time for bad novelty records and charity nonsense. But we've selected a five great festive songs with a Welsh connection.

Merry Christmas Everyone (1985) - Shakin' Stevens

Cover artwork for Merry Christmas EveryoneShaky's fourth number one single in the UK was written by Bob Heatlie and produced by fellow Welshman Dave Edmunds.

It was recorded in 1984 but was held back a year to make way for Do They Know It's Christmas? Shaky didn't appear on the Band Aid song, as he was touring overseas at the time.

In 1985 the song hit number one, cementing Shakin Stevens' position as the most-successful chart performer of the decade. It stayed there for two weeks, before being bumped off by Pet Shop Boys' West End Girls.

Stop The Cavalry - The Cory Band with The Gwalia Singers

Cover artwork for Stop The CavalryWritten and originally performed by Jona Lewie, Stop The Cavalry wasn't intended to be a festive hit, but the brass band arrangement and the line "Wish I was at home for Christmas" made it popular with broadcasters and record-buyers in 1980.

In the UK Lewie's version peaked at number three, held off by reissues of songs by John Lennon, who had recently died.

Stiff Records, which had released Lewie's single, issued a second recording of the song the following year. The label brought together the Gwalia Singers, a Swansea-based male voice choir, with the Cory Band from the Rhondda Valley.

Although it didn't chart in the United Kingdom, the version was a success in parts of the United States, where it remains one of the most-requested Christmas songs.

Walking In The Air - Aled Jones

Cover artwork for Walking In The AirAlthough it wasn't his voice heard on The Snowman, Aled Jones remains associated with Raymond Briggs' animated masterpiece in many people's minds.

Despite being released way back in 1985, and with various BBC presenting gigs and a lengthy career as a singer, a surprising number of people still recall Bangor-born Jones as the little boy with the angelic voice who sang Walking In The Air.

The song was written by Howard Blake for the 1982 animation. Peter Auty, a St Paul's Cathedral choirboy, recorded it originally, but was curiously overlooked when the single was released a whole three years later. Poor old Peter wasn't even credited in the film until it was reissued in 2002.

Aled Jones took Walking In The Air to number five in the UK charts. The single established him as a child star, although he'd previously released a number of singles and albums. His star burnt brightly throughout 1986, although he took a step back from the spotlight when his voice broke shortly afterwards.

The Christmas Song - Charlotte Church

Everyone and his dog has recorded a version of this 1944 classic by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells; it remains the most-performed Christmas song of all.

If Smokey Robinson, Donna Summer, Weezer or Twisted Sister don't press your buttons, why not check out Charlotte Church's 2000 version? Recorded for her third album Dream A Dream, a collection of festive recordings, it's a reminder of how the then 14-year-old soprano used to sound before boyfriends, babies and pop music got the better of her.

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Tom Jones with Cerys from Catatonia

Cover artwork for Baby, It's Cold OutsideWhile there's no mention of Christmas in this duet, the song has been a festive favourite since it was first recorded in 1949. It was written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and has been recorded by many artists including Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson and Norah Jones.

Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews (curiously billed as "Cerys from Catatona") recorded the song for Jones' 1999 duets album Reload. It was the second of five singles to be taken from the album, and peaked at number 17 in the charts. Seeing them flirt their way through it on Top Of The Pops caused many a viewer to ponder the age-old "are they or aren't they?" question.

Want more music? Read about Christmas number ones from Wales from the 1950s to the present day.

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