Seven Songs: Aled Jones

The Welsh singer and presenter guides us through his Christmas playlist – from classic carols and Chris Rea to Kirsty MacColl

For a man who has been permanently associated with Christmas since he was fourteen, it’s almost impressive that Aled Jones hasn’t grown sick of the season yet. But his December is packed. After his Christmas tour with Russell Watson comes to a close, he immediately moves on to tour with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra before he jumps on Classic FM to present over Christmas. All this, and he and Watson have been recording an album of carols since July.

“But, it’s alright,” he says, after he’s finished walking us through his schedule. “On Christmas morning I finish at 10 in the morning, so I’ll be home by half past… I’m looking forward to closing the front door and just having a nice celebration with the family together.”

Jones isn’t in a rush to get off the road, however. His tour with Watson has been a huge hit, the two of them playing to packed audiences across the country.

Aled Jones & Russell Watson - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - (Official Video)

“We’ve had a really good time,” he says. “I suppose this time of year you’re always trying to dodge colds and all that sort of business, so that’s quite tough. But we’ve done really well everywhere – we’ve had a standing ovation every night actually.”

Somehow, Jones made room for us in his busy December diary to talk us through all the most formative tracks on his Christmas playlist.

The Christmas song that reminds me of my childhood

The Christmas song that reminds me of my childhood would be ‘Away In A Manger’, the traditional carol, for the simple reason that was the first one I ever heard in primary school. Crosslegged on a wooden floor, the smell of Christmas lunch being cooked just behind the shutters, and then hearing this carol for the first time and just thinking that it was so magical in the way it portrayed the story, with the words and music just perfect together. Lots of people say it’s childish but you hear a choir like King’s College Cambridge or something like that perform this and it’s just absolutely spellbinding.

The Christmas song that makes me cry

The Christmas song that makes me cry probably is ‘Fairytale Of New York’ because I love Kirsty MacColl. And I just think it’s such a beautiful Christmas carol – just the two personalities together. Every time I hear it, I just think of Kirsty and how wonderful a musician she was and how sorely missed she is.

The Christmas song that makes me want to dance

The Christmas song that makes me want to dance is probably ‘Feliz Navidad’ from our album! It’s always one that gets you going.

The first Christmas song I played this year

The first Christmas song I played this year… Well, this is a tricky one to ask me because we recorded our Christmas album in July. So the first Christmas song I would have listened to this year was probably ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’ from our album. I had basically never recorded it and I thought I’d recorded every Christmas song in the whole world. So that was a new one for me.

The Christmas song I can listen to year round

The Christmas song I can listen to all year round… Well, it’s got to be ‘Walking In The Air’, hasn’t it? He said with tongue in cheek! Weird thing is, before COVID, every year I toured Australia – and I have to do it in Australia whatever month I’m there. The Australians celebrate Christmas in July; they have turkey and they put up Christmas trees and stuff. So I’ve actually sang ‘Walking In The Air’ in Australia in July.

The Christmas song that I enjoy singing the most

It’s probably always been the traditional ones. I mean, like ‘Oh Holy Night’ or ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, one of those that I love more than anything. I suppose it’s my background – I’ve sung them since I was a kid – and I just think that they were the original pop songs of their time and they’re still going strong. It’s the equivalent of saying, you know, in 100 years time, will we all be singing ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams? We are still singing ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ and ‘Oh Holy Night’ and they’re really special to me.

My favourite Christmas song of all time

My favourite, favourite Christmas song… The perfect song for say, Christmas Eve, you’re in the car… It’s got to be Chris Rea, ‘Driving Home For Christmas’. That’s awesome. I love the sentiment of it. Actually once I was in Manchester, and I was driving home for Christmas, listening to Chris Rea, and it was just perfect.