Today’s entry is a two-fer, a song born on a television comedy show and then covered by a real musician. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” was a recurring Saturday Night Live Christmas bit with Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan (I’m reading that it was written by Fallon and Sanz, but I can’t find verification). The first one aired in 2000, so it just squeezes into eligibility for this list.
The song/sketch is an intentionally lo-fi mess that’s pretty funny, and although it saw several iterations, it didn’t suffer much from diminishing returns over the years (Slate has a nice writeup of its history). Once it became popular, the song was performed all over the place, but I’ve actually found it pretty difficult to find the 2000 original. Here’s what I think is the original version – it’s a recording of a TV playing the song, so it’s not the best.
Again, there are a TON of amateur versions of this song. Search “I wish it was Christmas today” on YouTube and see for yourself. Maybe it’s the song’s faux amateur nature that attracts imitators. Regardless, the alternate version I’ll focus on isn’t one of these, but a cover by non-amateur Julian Casablancas of the Strokes.
Casablancas also would perform the song on Saturday Night Live with the original group. I’m not sure of the chronology here – both Casablancas versions were in 2009 – but his cover is listed before the SNL performance in every source I’ve seen, so I’ll go with that.
Here’s the collaborative effort:
Let’s see how both versions (2000/2009) fare against my Christmas Criteria.
- Does it mention Christmas by name? Immediately and often (lyrics are mostly the same for each version)
- Are there bells in it? Sleigh bells in the background throughout / Sleigh bells at the start, then (synthesized?) church bells, then more sleigh bells around the middle
- Is it jolly? More “quirky” / Pretty damn close, but definitely inducing of a joyful spirit