Source : Compared to the thrilling, cutting edge synth-pop Annie Lennox made in her youth – as we were reminded of this weekend on the X Factor final when Rebecca Ferguson gave an electrifying performance of the Eurythmics’ first big hit Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – you would think recording an album of old fashioned Christmas carols might seem a little bit dull. Yet the still striking, cropped-hair singer says she found the experience of making her sixth solo album and first seasonal album, A Christmas Cornucopia, one of the most inspiring things she has done.

“I had to be intrigued by them. Why would I want to cover run-of-the-mill Christmas carols?” she says. “That is the last thing I would want to do. The intrigue for me was to take these extraordinary songs and give them a new breath of life through my own exploration.”

Despite celebrating her birthday on Christmas Day, Annie Lennox has a certain ambivalence towards all the season’s festivities, “I will go out of my way to avoid the shopping crowds and the extreme consumerism – I hate all that.”

While she may have swerved away from the obvious on her own album, as she talks through her favourite Christmas songs, listed below, it is clear that Lennox loves the perennial hits of the season, “I still carry that part of childhood, that moment of nostalgia for when you felt the world was good. It is a restorative feeling to have at this point every year.”

Annie Lennox’s favourite Christmas songs

1 Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland

This was the first Christmas song I made. We recorded it over 25 years ago for a charity album called A Very Special Christmas, put together by Eunice Shriver to raise money for the Special Olympics. It was visionary of her to think of doing an album that would last for years. The song itself was very hastily put together. I recorded it with a neighbour of Dave Stewart’s because he was busy. We knocked it out in a day but I still thinks it stands up. When I listen to it I can still hear the different flavour I wanted to give the song by putting an electro-rhythm track behind it. So you have the fusion between nostalgia and edginess which I still think really works.

2 Silent Night

I put this on the album because I think it is simply beautiful. Through having children myself, what I wanted to draw out of that song was the bond between a mother and her child. Holding your own child when they are peaceful is one of the most tender experiences you can have and there is this beautiful silence. I wanted to bring out that intimacy in the song and bring the listener into that very tender place. With all these carols I wanted to touch people’s hearts.

3 Ding Dong Merrily on High

Not one that I did but a brilliant song, although completely different in tone. There is that bit in it where you almost faint trying to get all the notes in. It’s not easy to sing and it really reminds me of being a child at carol service – it was always the last thing we’d do in the winter term at my Scottish girls’ school. Where I come from is pretty grey in winter so to go inside a beautiful church and see the tree and all the lights was incredibly magical.

4 Sex Pistols and Thin Lizzy – A Merry Jingle

This song is pretty awful but I chose it because it was around in the Seventies. It is nice to remember Thin Lizzy and the Sex Pistols doing this. It is pretty ridiculous but I love that is has the silly factor to it. You need to have the whole gamut at this time of year.

5 Bing Crosby and David Bowie – Little Drummer Boy

I think this song goes between the cracks of silly and serious. The ambiguity of this song and the odd couple dynamic of Bing and David is what so intriguing about it and God bless them both for doing it.

6 Pogues – Fairytale of New York

Although this song has been played to death, I can never get sick of it. I think its appeal never wears out because it has such humour. It paints a bleak picture of life and yet the sentimentality completely undercuts it. We lurch between absolute drunken sentimentality at this time of year and violent abuse and it picks up up on that dynamic.

It is so poignant to hear Kirsty MacColl and it is marvellous that in spite of dying so tragically and so young, her vibrancy and feistiness lives on perfectly in this performance. It is beautiful to hear her in her fullness.

7 The Ronnettes – Frosty the Snowman

When I listen to this it makes me think of crackling logs and twinkling tinsel and the fizz of champagne. It makes me feel the excitement of being a teenager getting ready to go out and spraying myself in cheap perfume. This is fun, party music and really encapsulates America at that time. When I do interviews in America and they talk about classic Christmas songs they mean songs like this from the Fifties and Sixties, not old medieval carols.

8 Once in Royal David’s City

If you go to a carol service you will always hear this but I think of it more as a hymn than a carol. It goes straight to the heart of the nativity scene. When you are kid singing these songs you haven’t got a clue what all these strange words like manger or frankincense and myrrh mean. None of it made any sense but it all sounded great.

9 Annie Lennox – Universal Child

I wasn’t planning on writing a Christmas song – I just wanted to cover traditional standards. But when I was working on the album, I was playing around in a break on the piano and all of a sudden I found myself playing a melody that turned into this song. It sort of poured out of me. I think it was because the nativity is really about a child born in dangerous, impoverished circumstances. We all lead lives that are accidents of birth. It had real resonance for me with the times we are still living in now – they haven’t changed that much but we have become inured to it.

10 Bing Crosby – White Christmas

This is pure nostalgia. This is the dream of Christmas that we all want to have. We all want it fluffy; we want Christmas to be like It’s A Wonderful Life. I think that when Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol he was doing the same thing. He was showing us the dark side but consoling us at the end.