The song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was originally recorded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1971.
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was written and performed by ex-Beatle John Lennon (1940-1980) and his wife Yoko Ono (b.1933) as a protest song about the war raging in Vietnam at the time. The song was released in the US in 1971 but was delayed in the UK for a further twelve months. The song was met with indifferent success in America, where it has only peaked at No.28, despite numerous re-appearances, particularly after Lennon’s death in 1980. It has been much more successful in the UK, where the song reached the No.2 position on two occasions as well as charting a total of fourteen times (to date) and selling over 900,000 copies.
“Happy Xmas” has been recorded by numerous artists over the years including Carly Simon, Diana Ross, Andy Williams and even Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson in 2018. One of the most notable versions was recorded by Celine Dion for her 1998 seasonal album “These Are Special Times“, which remains faithful to the original. Although her version wasn’t released as a single, he album has gone on to sell more than twelve million copies, becoming the eighth best selling Christmas album of all time.
In 2019, US singer John Legend released his own version taken from the album “A Legendary Christmas”, which reached a high of No.9 on the UK singles chart, its best UK chart placing since Lennon’s peak in 1980.
But which version is best? JOHN and YOKO’s original, CELINE DION’s faithful adaption or JOHN LEGEND’s modern classic?