Holiday Music

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Holiday Music

Post  laddical on Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:55 pm

I wrote up a blog piece about Christmas music that feels... inauthentic.

I think that's largely because while I mean every word I say in it, I only give my true favorite Christmas bits short shrift at the very end. Because at the end of the day, even though I have to stop everything and listen with purpose whenever I hear Josh Groban sing "O Holy Night", if I could only save three albums to use for Christmas music for the rest of time they would be the soundtrack album to The Muppets Christmas Carol, John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together, and Christmas In the Stars: A Star Wars Christmas (that last is not to be confused at all with the televised Holiday Special - the two have nothing in common).

So yeah, when it comes to mainstream, non-geek tastes, I do love "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and "Better Days". But my heart really belongs to the songs that are off the beaten path. As I said in the blog post, I wouldn't subject other people to "Christmas at Ground Zero", but I'd play the hell out of it for myself.
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  punkysdilemma on Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:45 pm

After Thanksgiving I let the contents of my "Do Not Open Till Xmas" iTunes playlist back into the general population. Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics figures prominently. I also have this goofy-ass ZZ Top parody I'm Glad (At Christmastime) by Big Head Todd & The Monsters. I have no idea where it came from but it amuses me when it comes up in the rotation.

On the more serious side, the Peter, Paul & Mary Holiday Celebration album has some good nontraditional stuff on it (I really like their version of A-Soalin').
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  jcpdiesel21 on Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:20 am

I can't wait to bust out my holiday music. It's the one time of year that my plays of Vince Guaraldi and Straight No Chaser jump tremendously. I purchased A Very She & Him Christmas and have been holding off on listening to it along with everything else until after Thanksgiving, but it is SO HARD.

It's just not the holidays for me without Bill Nighy's "Christmas is All Around" from Love Actually.
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  laddical on Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:49 am

Thank you! I was trying to remember some obscure song I'd heard last year for the first time and your mentioning the name Straight No Chaser reminded me that that was the name of the group and now I can go find it. Thanks!
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  whatthedeuce on Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:32 am

I get obsessed with Darlene Love's Marshmallow World and Nat King Cole's Caroling, Caroling every year. Those tunes just make me feel so cheery and upbeat!

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  katesti on Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:54 am

punkysdilemma wrote:

On the more serious side, the Peter, Paul & Mary Holiday Celebration album has some good nontraditional stuff on it (I really like their version of A-Soalin').

YES. That is my fave, along with George Winston's Winter - both played major roles in my childhood. I also love more recent holiday/winter albums from Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and Sufjan Stevens, plus The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs, which features Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles, Lenka, Fiona Apple, and Brandi Carlile, and I am excited to finally get to listen to A Very She & Him Christmas. I make myself wait until after Thanksgiving, but it is so.hard. and just gets harder every year. Especially this year, when it snowed in Denver before Halloween. One month is just not enough time for all the awesome holiday music that exists.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  queenofdenile on Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:02 pm

Yeah, I find myself itching to listen to Christmas music even earlier than usual this year. I try to do one holiday at a time and wait until after Thanksgiving but it's SO HARD. I also listen to the Glee version of "Baby it's Cold Outside" year-round, and now that I've heard the She & Him version, I'll probably add that to the rotation.

I had an epic Christmas mix that I put together years and years ago in college, trying to include traditional songs, "winter" songs, funny Christmas songs combined with pretty Christmas songs. I put "Christmas in Heaven" from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life back-to-back with "Christmastime in Hell" from South Park.

The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs, which features Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles, Lenka, Fiona Apple, and Brandi Carlile

I did not know that such a thing exists. Thank you for telling me.
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  MLIS on Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:18 pm

I'm a traditionalist for the most part when it comes to my Christmas music -- for me there's nothing better than a choir and organ and brass singing one of the grand carols. But I also love the series of CDs that have been done by the Broadway community in support of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Every year each cast of a show currently running on Broadway (and sometimes special guests) records a holiday song. This year is the 13th edition (and I just got it in the mail yesterday so haven't listened to it, but the first track is the cast of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, including Daniel Radcliffe). It's a great mixture of traditional carols, fun contemporary holiday songs, funky arrangements of traditional songs -- they mostly do Christmas, but there's generally a Chanukah song, and sometimes Kwanzaa, and other general "winter" songs. Sometimes the shows will try to do an arrangement that reflects the mood of their show -- a Grease revival a couple of years ago did a 50s version of Up on The Housetop, or the Annie Get Your Gun cast did White Christmas, as both that song and the score of AGYG were written by Irving Berlin. Nearly my entire Christmas playlist is made up of these CDs.

I always try to wait until the beginning of Advent to turn on the Christmas music, and every year I'm lucky if I make it until the 25th of November (I'm in Canada so Thanksgiving is not an issue for me). I'd listen to it year round if I thought I could get away with it.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Instant Monkeys on Fri Nov 11, 2011 2:33 pm

katesti, I also love (and grew up with) George Winston, and the December album remains my favorite. I just love every song on it.

I know I've mentioned this before, but my favorite Christmas album is Christmas Carols From St. John's. My dad had it when I was a kid and it's just become tradition and an inextricable part of my Christmas every year. There are some more traditional songs (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, O Come All Ye Faithful), some less well-known but still known (In the Bleak Midwinter, The Holly and the Ivy), and some more obscure ones, including a couple in Welsh. And they do the British melody for Away in a Manger and O Little Town of Bethlehem, which is important to me.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  whatthedeuce on Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:38 pm

I recall many people saying they loathed Gayla Peevey's I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, but that song is my jam. I smile even when I randomly listen to it in the summer, which I've only done once, for the record.

Augie Rios's Donde Esta Santa Claus? is another kitschy fave of mine. His perky voice and the uptempo beat are just so endearing and infectious!

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Francie Nolan on Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:34 pm

"It was Christmas Eve, babe--in the drunk tank..." Sigh. I wish Fairytale of New York were more popular in the U.S.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  particle_person on Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:07 am

Francie Nolan wrote:"It was Christmas Eve, babe--in the drunk tank..." Sigh. I wish Fairytale of New York were more popular in the U.S.

Isn't it? The past three Christmases it felt like that song and "Christmas Rapping" are on constant loop.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Unlucky Bear on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:19 am

My uber-religious aunt and uncle had an Irish singer from their church play at my cousin's First Communion party this spring....and I got him to play Fairytale of New York for me!
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  oxymoron on Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:00 pm

On his Sacred Arias CD, Andrea Bocelli has a breathtaking version of Angels, We Have Heard on High.

Also, Annie Lennox released an Xmas album last year that is simply beautiful. Her God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen and Il est ne, le divin enfant are especially wonderful.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Crowbridge on Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:37 am

My favorite holiday album is Christmas Caravan by Squirrel Nut Zippers, followed by The Grinch soundtrack (the original, not the shitty one with Jim Carrey.)

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Unlucky Bear on Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:41 am

This year I am more technologically savvy so I have Christmas music on satellite radio AND the Christmas category on Pandora. I'm in heaven.

It won't be Christmas until I hear I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, though.
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Algae on Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:34 am

Santa Meets Sousa

The community band I'm in loves Sousa. We play at least 2 songs by him each season. Even we decided that's just not right.

We are doing a take on Carol of the Bells this year, I really like, but I can't remember which arrangement off the top of my head. I love Carol of the Bells - it's probably my favorite - followed by Sleigh Ride and Oh Holy Night.
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  CherryFlame on Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:57 am

Christmas music is my favorite thing about the holidays, I have an embarassingly large folder of holiday music.

I couldn't hold out for Thanksgiving for A Very She & Him Christmas since I bought it before Halloween and it is fantastic. I like that it's mellow enough to play in the background of a party but not so bland that you can't bop along to it in the car.

I love Hotel Cafe presents Winter Song too. Especially Mieko's Maybe Next Year. It reminds me of my favoite recent Christmas back in 2008.

Other favorites are Carol of the Bells and my absolute favorite Fairytale of New York.

And my least favorite, Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime. I find it so obnoxious.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  slmader on Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:26 am

CherryFlame wrote:And my least favorite, Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime. I find it so obnoxious.

That is my husband's very favorite. I can't stand it.

I like all of Coldplay's holiday tunes. I haven't taken Christmas Lights off of my iPod all year.

I really like the classics. Roger Whittaker's first Christmas album is stellar.

Thanks for the heads up on She & Him. I might have to pick that one up!

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Francie Nolan on Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:30 pm

particle_person wrote:
Francie Nolan wrote:"It was Christmas Eve, babe--in the drunk tank..." Sigh. I wish Fairytale of New York were more popular in the U.S.

Isn't it? The past three Christmases it felt like that song and "Christmas Rapping" are on constant loop.

I feel like it's popular in some circles, but it's never really gone mainstream in the U.S. Unlucky Bear, that is a fantastic way to celebrate a communion!

I, too, cannot deal with "Wonderful Christmastime." Just thinking about those damn synthesizers makes me twitchy.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  sobe on Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:52 pm

I just made my friend a mix tape of non-traditional holiday music last week. Ramones, The Darkness, John Legend/Stephen Colbert - it was fun to put together. And I couldn't resist throwing a little spoken word in there - David Sedaris's reading of "Six to Eight Black Men" is one of my favorite Christmassy things.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  jcpdiesel21 on Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:08 pm

CherryFlame wrote:And my least favorite, Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime. I find it so obnoxious.
This song IS terrible. But I made up a silly dance for it last year that at least makes it somewhat bearable.

I uploaded all of my holiday music to iTunes today (but not listening until at least Thursday!) and was reminded of the odd collection of songs on Barenaked for the Holidays. I love the Barenaked Ladies, but was disappointed with this album upon first listen when I got it as a gift. The more that I've listened to it, the more gems that I've found: their original songs "Christmas Pics," "Green Christmas" and "Christmastime (Oh Yeah)" are very much in the spirit of their non-holiday oeuvre, and guest appearances by Michael Bublé on "Elf's Lament" and Sarah McLachlan on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" are really groovy and fun. But there are some silly, short songs ("Deck the Stills," really?) and goofy instrumental-only tunes that aren't very good at all.

I have never heard "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." I consider myself fortunate!


Last edited by jcpdiesel21 on Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Crowbridge on Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:29 pm

I like "Wonderful Christmastime." I know it's lame, but I can't help it. It's Paul McCartney.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  mrinsouciance on Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:14 pm

Crowbridge wrote:I like "Wonderful Christmastime." I know it's lame, but I can't help it. It's Paul McCartney.

Me too. It's incredibly sappy, but kind of endearing if for no other reason than it's Paul.

I would have to say that number one on my hate list (I exclude "Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer") is "The Christmas Shoes." Blech.

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Re: Holiday Music

Post  Crowbridge on Sat Nov 19, 2011 4:53 pm

This is the only good thing about "Christmas Shoes":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq10bz3PxyY

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