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Sunday 24 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
# yuletide tunes
Debate Room: Is East 17's Stay Another Day a Christmas song?
If you’ve got to disagree with me, don’t think I can take the pain.

London Recordings / YouTube

CHRISTMAS OFTEN BRINGS out strong feelings among staff at HQ.

Although we generally love most things festive, sometimes tensions begin to fray and innocuous questions lead to intense debates.

Last year, we asked whether Die Hard was really a Christmas film

This year saw a similar debate, as we asked whether East 17′s 1994 number 1 ‘Stay Another Day’ really constituted a Christmas song.

We got two of the team – Seán Murray and Stephen McDermott– to give their take from both sides of the argument.

‘Of course it is’ – Sean Murray

I really don’t know why this is even a question. Of course it is.

Let’s go back to 1994. Britpop was reigning supreme. Grunge was riding high. And boybands were becoming a huge thing.

East 17 would never eclipse the popularity of Take That in the boyband stakes, but released what would become a much-loved Christmas tune on 21 November 1994 with ‘Stay Another Day’.

It remains such a popular tune that is played again and again each Christmas time to this day.

None of the below factors alone make it a Christmas song but, when you add them all together, it is clear why ‘Stay Another Day’ has been canonised as a quintessential Christmas tune.

It was the number one Christmas single in the UK, Denmark, Sweden and, of course, Ireland.

That alone doesn’t make it a Christmas song, but it’s a vital ingredient nonetheless.

It doesn’t explicitly reference Christmas, but that’s hardly a prerequisite for Christmas songs.

Dean Martin’s iconic ‘Let it Snow’ doesn’t mention Christmas. ‘Deck the Halls’? ‘The Most Wonderful Time of Year’? Even flipping ‘Jingle Bells’ doesn’t explicitly mention the word Christmas.

Are they all Christmas songs? Will we be hearing them in the run up to Christmas? Yes, and yes.

Christmas songs can also touch upon themes that we find common at Christmas time, of love, loss, loneliness and hope.

Similarly to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, this song focuses on a love affair gone sour.  In fact the lyrics, could almost act as a prequel to the George Michael hit tune:

Baby if you’ve got to go away, I don’t think I can take the pain. Won’t you stay another day? Oh don’t leave me alone like this. Don’t say it’s the final kiss. Won’t your stay another day?

In fact, and this is my last point, we collectively as a culture get to decide what a Christmas song is. A song can strike the right chord with people.

And when it does, it gets played. By radio DJs. By those spinning the decks on nights out. By us in our homes in the run up to Christmas.

We listen to ‘Stay Another Day’ because it’s quite a decent pop tune that came out at Christmas.

We listen to it specifically at this time of year. The lads are dressed up in big heavy jackets with fake snow falling in the video.

There’s a Christmas bell chime section at the end of the track.

It’s a Christmas song, and that’s that. Over to you, Stephen ‘the Heathen’ McDermott.

‘A marketing ploy dressed up in holly and tinsel’ – Stephen McDermott

I can see why people have been led to believe that ‘Stay Another Day’ is a Christmas song. It’s most regularly heard in December and even features on the Spotify-curated ‘Christmas Crackers’ playlist.

But it’s time to wake up and smell the stuffing: ‘Stay Another Day’ is as festive as sandals on a sun holiday, a cynical marketing ploy which saw an already banging tune dressed up in holly and tinsel.

The most Christmassy thing about it is that people have been duped into believing it’s a Christmas song in the first place.

As Sean has mentioned, ‘Stay Another Day’ was released in November, conveniently just in time for the group’s record company to cash in on the lucrative December market.

But the song isn’t actually about Christmas at all: the group’s Tony Mortimer – who wrote it – has said it’s actually about his brother’s suicide.

Look at a list of every other Christmas song ever written and you’ll notice similar themes: Christmas, festive traditions Santa, Jesus, winter activities, snow, and so on.

‘Stay Another Day’ doesn’t cover a single one of them. Should we start bending the rules and include other December number into the Christmas canon?

What about Elvis’ ‘Return to Sender’, number one in 1962? Or Eminem’s ‘Stan’, which hit top spot in 2000?

In fact, ‘Stay Another Day’ is so shamelessly not about Christmas that there are two music videos for it.

For those who haven’t seen the original, here’s the one that’s aired throughout the rest of the year:

Super Eda / YouTube

I hate to break it to you, but the puffy jackets and the superimposed snow in the ‘Christmas’ video have been deceiving you all these years.

“Well what about the Christmas bells near the end of the song?” I hear you ask, to which I say “Bah, humbug.” Instrumentation does not a Christmas song make.

If that’s the case, I propose the inclusion of AC/DC’s ‘Hells Bells’, Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’ and the Undertaker’s entrance theme on Christmas playlists from here on out.

Ridiculous? You bet. But that’s where current logic has gotten us. It’s time to change our tune.


So, after hearing both sides, what do you think? Is East 17′s Stay Another Day a Christmas song?

Poll Results:

Yes (3014)
No (1863)

Sean Murray & Stephen McDermott
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