ワム!、マライア・キャリー、ブレンダ・リー、山下達郎・・・あなたのクリスマスソングの定番は何ですか?【Small Talk】

皆さんは「クリスマスソング」と言えば何の曲を思い浮かべますか?アルクのネイティブスタッフによる英語エッセイ「Small Talk」、今回は11曲のクリスマスソングが登場しますので、何曲メロディーが思い浮かぶか確認してみてください。さらに、「音楽」に関連した英語フレーズもたくさん紹介します!

Thoughts on Christmas Music(クリスマスソングについて思うこと)

The Magic of Music

If I had a time machine, I would go back to one of my parents’ annual Christmas carol parties. Before the event, our neighbors would drop by with extra chairs, and somehow my parents managed to squeeze around 50 people into the room. Friends took turns playing the piano, and everyone would sing along with great gusto. Every year, the same three tenors took turns singing “We Three Kings,” and I still remember how it especially gave me chills. One of my friends, an Iranian Muslim, told me he was most moved when he heard us all sing songs like “Let There Be Light.” Written by Frances Wheeler, a Canadian woman, in 1968, the lyrics are very simple but powerful. “Let there be understanding. Let all the nations gather. Let them be face to face.” To me, that’s the Christmas spirit!

In many countries around the world, including here in Japan, music truly is an integral part of the holiday season. Malls often play festive music from the beginning of November right through to Christmas Day to create a cheerful atmosphere and encourage holiday shopping. It works! When I walk by a store and hear a carol like “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” the music pulls me in like a magnet. (Conversely, there are some songs that have the opposite effect, and I run out of the store as soon as I hear them!) I notice that “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – the charity song recorded by Band Aid in 1984 to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia – never gets played. It’s probably not conducive to spending money on things you don’t really need!



ここ日本を含め、世界の多くの国で、音楽は真にホリデーシーズンに欠かせない部分です。ショッピングモールは、11月の初めからクリスマス当日まで、華やいだ音楽をよく流し、楽しい雰囲気を作り出してクリスマスの買い物を促します。これは効果的ですね!店の前を通って「ああベツレヘムよ」のような讃美歌が聞こえてくると、音楽が磁石のように私を店の中へ引き寄せます。(反対に、逆効果の曲もいくつかあって、それらを聞くとすぐに店を飛び出します!)そういえば、「Do They Know It's Christmas?」――エチオピアで起きた飢餓を救済する基金を集めるため、1984年にバンド・エイドによってレコーディングされたチャリティーソングは、一度も流れていません。きっと、そんなに必要がないものにお金を使うことを促してくれないからでしょう!

Big in Japan

When I first arrived in Japan, I was so surprised to hear “Last Christmas,” by the British pop group Wham!, played over and over. It had never occurred to me that it could be a Christmas song. Thank goodness, I like it! Interestingly, Wham! donated all of their royalties from the song to relief efforts for that aforementioned Ethiopian famine. George Michael helped to save many from tears!

Can you imagine shopping in December in Japan without ever hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”? Nope, neither can I. In Japan, the song gained instant popularity in 1994, the year of its release, when it was used as the theme song for a popular TV drama series called “29-sai no Kurisumasu.” And the single is not only a seasonal standard in Japan. It continues to top charts in countries as diverse as Hungary, the Netherlands and Norway. The song has broken all sorts of records, including being the first holiday phone ringtone to be certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

NEWSFLASH! One of those records has just been broken, as of December 2, 2023, when Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” knocked Mariah Carey’s song to second place for the longest period between a song’s release and its ascension to No. 1. While Carey’s song took 25 years to get to that position, it took Lee’s song 65 years! Apparently Lee, 79, made a special push to help it climb all the way up the chart by recording the song's first official video. Oh, no! Now both songs are vying for first earworm position in my head.

Speaking of long time periods, it has been more than 40 years since the release of one of Japan’s most popular Christmas songs ever! I am sure you guessed that I am referring to Tatsuro Yamashita’s “Christmas Eve.” Initially, the song didn’t make huge sales, but a tie-up with a JR Shinkansen commercial beginning in 1988 helped to change all that. Now the song is strongly entrenched in everyone’s Christmas conscious here! I am a little curious about how Christmas Eve became so associated with romance here in Japan whereas, in other countries, it is the time to be with family!




ニュース速報です!そうした記録の一つが、2023年12月2日に破られました。ブレンダ・リーの「Rockin‘ Around the Christmas Tree」が曲の発売から1位へ上昇するまでの期間の最長記録を更新し、マライア・キャリーの曲を2位に押しやったのです。キャリーの曲が1位を取るまでに25年かかったのに対し、リーの曲は65年かかりました!どうやら、79歳のブレンダ・リーは、同曲初の公式ミュージックビデオを収録することで、チャートで順位を上げる特別な後押しをしたようです。ああ、しまった!今、私の頭の中では、両方の曲が耳にこびりついて離れない曲1位の座を争っています。


Loathed and Loved

One Christmas Eve found me driving very carefully through an ice storm from the town where I was a reporter to my family home in Ottawa. I kept shifting between the first and second gears, noticing that buses and far-more expensive cars were off the road everywhere. When I pulled into a gas station to fill up my car, the staff there told me I was taking a big risk and tried to convince me not to go any further. They actually invited me to join a little Christmas party they were having and to stay the night in a guest bedroom one of them had. I refused their offer – “Thank you, but I have to get home! It’s Christmas!”

So I stupidly carried on, tripling the time it usually took for the 350 km trip. To help me stay alert, I played the radio, and what did I hear over and over? It was a song called “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” I switched stations numerous times, but that song seemed to follow me. I still hate that song. (By the way, the three dear elderly ladies who lived across the street from my family said that they could not get to sleep until they saw my little red car pull into the driveway at 3 a.m.)

In stark contrast, I just love “Silent Night,” a Christmas carol that has been translated into at least 300 languages. In 2011, UNESCO designated it as a “treasured item of Intangible Cultural Heritage.” It is amazing how this lovely song, first played on a guitar in a small Austrian town in 1818, made its way around the world. At the height of World War I, German and British soldiers on the frontlines laid down their weapons on Christmas Eve and together sang “Silent Night.” The song’s message of peace is one that transcends borders.

OK, everyone, if you haven’t already done so, put on some festive music and crank up the volume. I hope you have a truly merry Christmas!







The Magic of Music

take turns(~を)交代でする、代わる代わる行う
with gusto楽しそうに、喜びを感じながら
give someone chills~をゾクゾク[ゾッと]させる
Band Aidバンド・エイド
famine relief飢餓救済
(be) conducive to ~~につながる、~を促す

Big in Japan

relief effort救助[救援]活動
※ vyingはvieの現在分詞形。

Loathed and Loved

ice storm氷雨を伴う嵐
off the road(車が故障などで)動かなくなった
in stark contrast全く対照的に
intangible cultural heritage無形文化遺産
at the height of ~~の真っただ中で
crank up(音量、速度などを)上げる



deck the halls(飾り付ける)

This phrase comes from the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly." It means to decorate your home with festive ornaments and decorations. “I always deck the halls on the inside and my husband decorates the outside of our house.”


’tis the season(クリスマスがやって来た!)

This expression is often used to refer to the holiday season, especially in December. It’s short for “it is the season.” You can find it in the carol mentioned above: “’Tis the season to be jolly. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la ...”

この表現は特に12月のホリデーシーズンを指すときによく使われます。「it is the season.」の略です。前述の曲(「ひいらぎかざろう」)にも出てきます:「楽しいクリスマスがやって来たよ。ファララララ、ララララ・・・」

white Christmas(ホワイトクリスマス)

This expression is used in many Christmas songs. People – at least in the Northern Hemisphere – often hope for a snowfall on Christmas Day, creating a picturesque winter scene. “Chances are good that we’ll have a white Christmas this year!”


strike a chord(〔心の〕琴線に触れる、共感を得る)

This means to evoke a strong emotional response or resonate with someone. “The producer hopes the new show will strike a chord with the audience.”


face the music(〔結果を〕潔く受け止める、報いを受ける)

This means to confront the consequences of one's actions. “After skipping class all week, Tiffany had to face the music when her teacher called her parents.”


march to the beat of one’s own drum(わが道を行く)

This expression describes doing things in someone’s own unique way, regardless of what others are doing. “Yuko has always marched to the beat of her own drum, and that’s what makes her so interesting.”


blow one’s own trumpet(自画自賛する、自慢する)

This is used to describe boasting about someone’s achievements or abilities. “I don't like to blow my own trumpet, but I did contribute significantly to the project’s success.”


英語コラム執筆:Margaret Stalker

英語を学び、英語で学ぶための語学情報ウェブサイト「ENGLISH JOURNAL」が、英語学習の「その先」にあるものをお届けします。 単なる英語の運用能力にとどまらない、知識や思考力を求め、「まだ見ぬ世界」への一歩を踏み出しましょう!


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