There are very few great Christmas songs, but there are many memorable ones.
Your favourite tune may be a Bing Crosby number that wafts warmly through the kitchen like the scent of cinnamon as you bake Christmas cookies. It may evoke flashbacks of that time you swayed to Last Christmas by Wham with that guy in accounts after a few too many at the office Christmas party. Or it may jerk a tear like Paul Kelly's How to Make Gravy when you're on the other side of the world, far from family and sunshine.
Whatever. It's a confusing time, when emotions are heightened and resistance is low. We sing along to songs about snow on blistering hot days. And Slade and Mariah Carey songs for no good reason. Good taste goes out the window along with the half melted ice from the esky.
With that in mind, here's a Spotify playlist of the Good Food team's favourite Christmas tunes to cook to (and why), with some popular classics thrown in for good measure.
Fill up your glass, turn the volume to 11, and feel your Christmas cooking stress level plummet as low as the chances of Australia's top order notching up back-to-back centuries in the Boxing Day test. Or of my Christmas dinner actually looking as good as this.
It's not original, but five life-altering years living in Galway, Ireland, where bars, buskers and radio stations play it on a steady loop from October to January, stamped The Pogues' Fairytale in New York into my heart forever. Many years later I still can't hear it without welling up. Even more so - for different reasons - when I hear the Ronan Keating version. For me, Christmas is also cricket, slumped in front of the tele on Boxing Day with a pile of leftovers, a tub of mayonnaise and I Don't Like Cricket by 10cc and Howzat by Sherbert on repeat. And then there's the first single I ever bought as a small child with a £5 WH Smith voucher - Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid. Those muffled bells at the start. Bono's earnest wail. Classic (but again, not to be confused with the Ronan Keating version. Shoot me now).
It's impossible to feel bad when I Like Giants by Kimya Dawson is on, plus we can all use an extra dose of body positivity in our lives. Ruby by Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate always transports me to somewhere balmy, breezy and far, far away. And Tribute by Tenacious D because it's so much fun and never, ever gets old.
The jolly Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard was on high rotation in the tearooms at Edinburgh Castle where I worked. Somehow this Brit favourite hasn't hit Antipodean playlists, but it's a good'un (see also: Cliff's Saviour's Day, complete with panpipes). Anything from The OC Soundtrack Mix 3, for example, Jimmy Eat World's pop-rock cover of Last Christmas, because the teen drama's character Seth Cohen's Chrismukkah mash-up concept is all about togetherness (and he had great taste in early noughties indie music). My mate Samantha embraced country music during her time in Tamworth. Every December she hosts Merry Bakemas - a prosecco-fuelled afternoon of gingerbread decorating soundtracked with questionable country carols such as Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy.
Creedence Clearwater Revival Ramble Tamble is seven minutes of pure cooking bliss. The Cosmo's Factory opener features a rockabilly intro and outro framing a psyche-rock breakdown that is one of the best things CCR ever recorded and the perfect tempo for whisking eggs. It has nothing to do with Christmas.
Sleigh bells at the beginning of Karl Blau's sultry ten-minute cover of Link Wray's Fallin' Rain is about as Christmas-y as the music gets in my kitchen, but that song also contains lyrics about "stabbings and shootings and young men dying" so perhaps it's not the best sing-along for whipping meringue. Blau's soul country take on the Bee Gees' To Love Somebody is a better idea.
Most Christmas songs have all the appeal of mulled wine on a hot day, however Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono is, at the very least, tolerable. Certainly better that anything off Ringo Starr's 1999 flop I Wanna Be Santa Claus or Bob Dylan's certifiably bonkers Christmas in the Heart.
And I must disagree with my colleagues that Fairytale of New York is suitable for cooking. I never, ever want to be reminded of Shane MacGowan's teeth around food.
As a child growing up in Australia, Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters' Mele Kalikimaka was the only festive song I knew that referenced a "green and bright" rather than snow-covered Christmas. It's 100 per cent pure corn, but I love it all the same. How a man who looks and sings like Shane MacGowan ever became rock star is as much a mystery as flying reindeer. But it's not Christmas without The Pogues and Kirsty McColl's Fairytale of New York.
Joni Mitchell's melancholic song River provides a moment of calm during the Christmas frenzy, when I, too, occasionally wish I had a river I could skate away on. And oh to be able to hit the high notes she manages so effortlessly!
I like to cook to Van Morrison Cyprus Avenue while boring people senseless about how he didn't even want the string section in the album Astral Weeks but how, in fact, it's the string section that really makes the album. Insufferable.
I also like to play Hey Ya by Outkast because there's nothing funnier than shaking like a Polaroid picture while carrying a really big ham. And finally, I like to play Fairytale of New York by the Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl (RIP) because it's the only Christmas song I have ever, and will ever, like.