31. "Santa Claus Is Watching You," Ray StevensMercury 72058 b/w "Loved And Lost"
Highest chart position: #45 US (1962)
Recorded June 26, 1962, Nashville, TN
In the Fifties, the novelty records genre and the Christmas music genre were often subsets of one another -- the chance to lampoon the commercialized, Santafied holiday was perfectly balanced with the need to observe, with quiet dignity, the holiest of holy days. That made for a very polarized listening experience: would anyone be able to record a song like this, the Yuletide follow-up to the equally impolitic "Ahab The Arab," which hit earlier that year, and not be accused of mocking the sacred? Hard to say, but Stevens Fifties' style -- an exaggerated parody of rockabilly music and hepcat slang, replete with morning-zoo voices -- fits the silliness and hyperparanoia of childhood like a big cartoon glove; witness the children running around screaming "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!" To quote Calvin (the comic icon, not the theologian): "Santa Claus: Kindly old elf, or CIA spook?"