John and Yoko

COVER vs ORIGINAL: ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’

The song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” was originally recorded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1971.

by Christopher Smith

“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?

Take a look at some of the other posts in this series and don’t forget to follow the playlist.

cover vs original

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!
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