Christmas songs come in all shapes & sizes in the music world, artists from virtually every genre having their own rendition of yuletide celebration that we get to enjoy for just over a month every year when the holiday season rears its beautiful head. While most of the songs you’ll encounter are typically traditional religious hymns, upbeat Jazz Standards, Big Band Swing numbers or jolly children’s tunes you’ve been singing since you were a child, the Rock & Pop worlds brought us a plethora thrilling dance numbers from the 1950’s onward, everyone from The Beach Boys to modern artist like Mariah Carey throwing their own creations into the fray to become beloved classics for all time. In 1970, Latin Pop legend José Feliciano – famous for his Spanish-language remakes of popular Rock tunes from the American music industry – realized there had yet to be a compelling Christmas song with a distinctly Latin vibe to it, at least in the mainstream circuit, taking it upon himself to create what would go down in history as one of the most cheerful holiday songs around, “Feliz Navidad” – Much like the songs which came before, Feliciano realized his song needed to be short & sweet with a simple narrative listeners could easily remember, taking care to include both Spanish & English phrases as to increase the reach of his song’s message in addition to the hopes that it would bring people together across cultures at this special time of year, reminding listeners to be kind to everyone they share the planet with. The main Spanish line repeats “Feliz Navidad” several times before declaring “Próspero Año y Felicidad,” together wishing listeners a Happy Christmas and a prosperous, happy year, immediately followed by the English sequence “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart,” these two lyrics forming the entirety of his heartwarming expression of human kindness & togetherness for the holidays – [Editor’s note]: While wishing someone happiness from the ‘bottom’ of your heart is supposed to mean it’s a deep-rooted feeling, wouldn’t it be more accurate to say the ‘top’ of your heart because it’s the first feeling you want to share with people?
Anyway, this holiday classic stands out as such a magnificent tune because of its bright, colourful instrumentation & incredibly jolly vocals, delivering an arrangement that’s full of life & happiness which perfectly captures the joy we all deserve to feel during Christmas. The main melody is comprised of an upbeat Latin Pop chord progression played by a bouncy bassline, chugging away in a happy-go-lucky manner, accompanied by a spritely percussion beat of the same rhythm which keeps the track driving forward with vigor whilst acoustic guitars chime out cheery, harmonized riffs; This is then joined by brilliantly bold brass horn lines with an anthemic energy & sweeping symphonic melodies, coming together with the jingling of bells & the rattling of tambourines to make a delightfully rich soundscape that blends traditional Christmas instrumentation with the uplifting aesthetics of Latin music, a near-perfect composition listeners can’t help but sing along to whenever it comes on – Over the years, many an artist have lent their voices & guitars to recreations of this wonderful track, the most recent hit coming from child actor & performer FaWiJo, producing a youthful rendition with the hilariously cute spirit of a hyperactive child, reinvigorating the song his innocence as to remind listeners that this song is about rekindling that childish joy we all once felt, giving audiences a reason to shake of the stress of adulthood as they engage in the carefree positivity of the holiday season. Whatever version is your personal favourite, history will never forget just how spectacular José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” was & still is, a gift to humanity that keeps on giving.
"Feliz Navidad" ([feˈlis naβiˈðað])[a] is a macaronic Christmas song written in 1970 by the Puerto Rican singer and songwriter José Feliciano. With its simple Spanish chorus (the traditional Christmas/New Year greeting, "Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad" meaning "Merry Christmas, a prosperous year and happiness") and equally simple English verse "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart", it has become a classic Christmas pop song in the United States, throughout the Spanish-speaking world and internationally.