December 19, 2007

Jinglebell Rock

The other day, I mentioned that I'd downloaded a crap-load of Christmas music. Several people asked what I'd downloaded and, in a larger sense - me being somewhat of a music aficionado - what kind of Christmas music I like. So, here's the answer.

I like the classics, the over-played holiday favorites that, to me, epitomize the Christmas spirit. I'll take Bing Crosby (real name Henry Lillis Crosby - I looked it up because honestly what could Bing be short for?) over some boy band rendition of a holiday favorite any day. Sure, Bing belted his wife after belting out Christmas tunes but that shouldn't suck any of the holiday spirit out of White Christmas. Dean Martin, Burl Ives, Brenda Lee and Nat King Cole put together some fantastic Christmas music. And Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas epitomizes Christmas (even though the Christmas special itself drives me bonkers). Frank Sinatra produced some of the most fantastic holiday tunes. Granted, the way in which he delivered the songs sometimes sounded like he was just about to get into a bar fight, like there's an implied bitch punctuating ever song. Sleep in heavenly peace, bitch or Born is the King of Israel, bitch for instance. But still, good stuff.

I dig big band and swing versions of aforementioned classics. Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald knocked some of those boring old tunes out of the park. Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman didn't do such a bad job either. Their modern-day compatriots like Brian Setzer and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy do the same.

And who doesn't like a little holiday cheese to go with they're turkey? I'm a big fan. I recently downloaded Christmas albums by John Denver and Willy Nelson. They're astoundingly cool in a very uncool way. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is also a phenomenon I like as well. Who doesn't like a good Christmas-themed heavy metal rock opera?

I have 276 Christmas songs on my iPod. Though I suspect they playlist is really just about fifty versions of the same half-dozen songs.

What's on your Christmas playlist?

Posted by Chris at December 19, 2007 7:36 AM

My dad is a pianist - back in the day (like when he was my age), he played for several bands, and has fun stories about those days... These days, he has a less exciting career - still playing piano but on a more low key scale. A few years ago, Dad made a CD of Christmas standards, and it's something he gives to his clients at Christmas. Yeah, it's "Silent Night" and "Angels We Have Heard On High" - that kind of stuff - but I love to play it and know that it's my dad, and to tell my kids that that is grandpa.

On a more commercial note, I love Sarah McLachlan's "Wintersong" (except for some reason, I have to skip "Happy Christmas (The War is Over)" because I just don't like it.

Posted by: sarah at December 19, 2007 7:52 AM

Several years ago my oldest was into "The Little Drummer Boy." So Santa brought him a customized CD with a dozen different versions of the song. He still has it somewhere.

My personal favorite Christmas song . . . . . .

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

and Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer always brings a smile.

Posted by: Meredith at December 19, 2007 8:04 AM

It isn't Christmas at our house without Harry Connick Jr. His Christmas songs are really beautiful!(I prefer the "When My Heart Finds Christmas" CD)
I also love Brian Setzer Orchestra. I saw them at the Rockefeller tree lighting a few years ago and they were amazing. For the cheese factor, its Trans Siberian Orchestra. ONe of my favorite Christmas CD's Is Leroy Jones "Wonderful Christmas".He's a personal friend and extremely talented trumpet player. Theresa Andersson's "Peace Stories" is really pretty.

Posted by: Lisa at December 19, 2007 8:19 AM

I always play in my office a CD which my hubby's band has a song on called "The Chimney's of New London"... its all local artists and 90% of the songs are so good... I wish there was a way I could share it with you... maybe I will email you a song or two...

Posted by: Stephanie at December 19, 2007 8:23 AM

Iron Maiden.

Just kidding. I don't have a Christmas playlist. :)

Posted by: Poppy at December 19, 2007 8:32 AM

A few years back I made a mix CD for our xmas road trip (we were doing xmas day up north, then driving 7h to my parents boxing day... we only did that one year). It was all Carol of the Bells. I had Trans-Siberian. I had the Vienna Boys Choir (a classic I think you missed). I even had Mr. Mackey (and you haven't lived until you've heard a choral acapella version of Carol of the Bells done by several Mr. Mackeys.)

Posted by: SciFi Dad at December 19, 2007 8:44 AM

My all-time Christmas favorite is Mele Kalikimaka by Bing, but don't forget Run DMC's Christmas in Hollis. Classic.

Posted by: Gwen at December 19, 2007 8:49 AM

Gary Hoey. Any of his CD's. There are no words, it is him and his electric guitar rocking out all the Christmas songs. Carol of the Bells is AMAZING. Everyone should own a copy! I love Christmas music, but when I heard him on our local station, it pushed my love for the carols over the top.

Posted by: js at December 19, 2007 9:09 AM

I am old school too and I am totally NOT a fan of say N Sync's version of O Holy Night (I do not think this exists but I would could not think of any other "pop" type bands...)

My all time fav is by far John Denver but mostly because I loved it as a child. I remember laying on the floor next the tree with ten RECORDS on our HUGE stereo and John Denver was always the last one I would play - I just liked something about the tone of the songs... Ohh and Louis Armstrong - I have that CD and it is too fun!

I did however buy a CD this year with the Dogs barking song on it. That one cracks me up b/c when we play it our dogs go ape shit!

Posted by: Christina at December 19, 2007 9:17 AM

My all time favorites. I want a hippopotamus for Christmas, Santa Baby, Christmas Dont Be Late (by the Chipmunks), Christmas Eve/ Sarejevo 12/24, 12 pains of Christmas, and of course all the classics. I know, I am across the Board.

Posted by: Elizabeth at December 19, 2007 9:31 AM

My two holiday standards are the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble "A Festival of Carols in Brass," and the Muppet Christmas Album. I also like everything the Philadelphia Orchestra did with Eugene Ormandy. Good stuff.

Posted by: Coleen at December 19, 2007 9:34 AM

Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine.

Also, I love Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas. Piano jazz + old skool Charlie Brown = festive overload.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at December 19, 2007 9:47 AM

I'm diggin' the Sarah Maclachlan/Bare Naked Ladies rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Something about the arrangement...the just really slays me.

Otherwise, it's Bing and Brenda Lee and Charlie Brown Christmas...a bit of Mannheim Steamroller. And everything you mentioned in your list. And it is extremely rare that a newer "artist" (or boy band) can pass muster.

Posted by: Miss W at December 19, 2007 9:59 AM

Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby". Darlene Love's "Christmas Baby, (Please Come Home)". Karen Carpenter's "Merry Christmas, Darling". Elton John's "Step Into Christmas". Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad".

Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen at December 19, 2007 10:01 AM

I'm with you on the Trans Siberian RR. I also like Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas offerings.

Posted by: OddMix at December 19, 2007 10:02 AM

Among my favorites on my playlist:

Last Christmas (Jimmy Eat World cover), Maybe this Christmas (Ron Sexsmith), So this is Christmas/War is Over (John Lennon), River (Sarah McLachlan), Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Coldplay/Chris Martin), and a little All I want for Christmas is you (Mariah Carey) to liven things up :)

The hubby is partial to Eazy E's "Merry Mutherf***in Christmas" :)

Posted by: Liz at December 19, 2007 10:05 AM

Barenaked for the Holidays Minneapolis/St.Paul concert 2005 is played over and over and over and over again in my house. I like it because it also includes some Hanukkah songs on it (even though I am not Jewish) along with some traditional Christmas songs and some of BNL's 'normal' stuff.

Posted by: theycallmered at December 19, 2007 10:06 AM

I love Christmas Wrapping by The Waitressess. Unfortunately, my darling son Jack wants to rock-steady to Alvin and the Chipmunks. *Sigh* Oh, the things we'll do(listen to)for love.
Peace Out!

Posted by: kelly at December 19, 2007 10:14 AM

Trans-Siberian Orchestra is awesome. I also like Mannheim Steamroller. "Dominick the Donkey" is one of those cheesy songs that I just have to listen to at Christmas. Who doesn't love an Italian Christmas donkey?

I hate hate hate that "Christmastime is Here" song from the Charlie Brown Christmas. Why are they singing about happiness and cheer sounding like they're completely depressed?

Posted by: Leah at December 19, 2007 10:23 AM

The Brian Setzer version of "Jingle Bells" is always a big hit in our house (or, more appropriately, our car. We spend so much time on the road that the majority of our music listening is en route somewhere). The kids especially like the background vocals of "...he's dashing...he's he's laughing." My daughter has recently discovered that 60's Snoopy-Red Baron Christmas bells song, and loves it. The BNL/Sarah McLaughlan "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" medley kicks butt. I love the Bing and Bowie "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" medley. And no Christmas is complete without the VeggieTales "Eight Polish Foods of Christmas."

Somebody at work is trying to convince me that the Transiberian Orchestra is made up of the same group of people at the 80's Christian metal band Stryper. The fact that he's got people believing this scares me. The fact that it may be true scares me even more.

Posted by: MamaKaren at December 19, 2007 10:59 AM

My favorite Christmas album is Hot Christmas by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. If you haven't heard it, I HIGHLY recommend you check it out!

Posted by: heels at December 19, 2007 11:35 AM

Victoria's Secrets Christmas CD set from last year is my current favorite. One for Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day. A mix of classic like Etta James' Santa Baby and some new fangled stuff like The Jet's Back Door Santa and Mick Jagger and Joss Stone's Lonely Without You This Christmas.

And then my all time favorite is the Vince Gauraldi's Charlie Brown's Christmas CD that I can't seem to hold on to for more than a year at a time. So far, I bought 3 CDs and lost them all.

And finally, Bill Nighy's rendition of "Christmas is all around" from the movie Love Actually. Classic. :)

Posted by: oakley at December 19, 2007 11:45 AM

A lot of what is on your Christmas list -- I'm big into big band/swing/jazz renditions of songs -- along with some stuff I grew up listening to: Burl Ives, Perry Como, Wayne Newton (no shit), the Carpenters (my favorite) and Gene Autry (my other favorite). Right now I'm listening to the new Jars of Clay Christmas album, which is absolutely divine. I've loved them since they broke into mainstream when I was in high school; they're one of the "realest" Christian bands out there and there's a fabulous song on the album called Hibernation Day. It's all about taking a hibernation day with your significant other. Too cute.

Also, the full Nutcracker score is a MUST for my holiday enjoyment, as is Lou Monte's Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey (best song EVAR).

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at December 19, 2007 11:53 AM

I just posted an entry about Christmas music - bizarre! I've got Amiee Mann's Christmas album on my iPod. It's been on my iPod all year because I can't figure out how to remove it.

Posted by: SpaceCse at December 19, 2007 12:07 PM

Aimee Mann's Christmas album. Plus the three songs I just blogged about today.

Posted by: SpaceCase at December 19, 2007 12:08 PM

I'm with you. My Christmas albums are Bing, Frank and Dean.

Last year I got the BBVD and Brian Setzer ones. I love Heat Miser with all the horns.

Posted by: SarraJK at December 19, 2007 12:31 PM

XM channel 104 - Holiday Traditions. Plays Bing and Frank and Ella and all of the others I've come to love so much.

Posted by: GreenCanary at December 19, 2007 12:39 PM

After you read this comment, you will roll your eyes and then block me from every commenting again. But dude, the Old 97's released a new Christmas song this year and I love it.

(Also, have you heard the soundtrack for the new "Juno" movie? I'm in love with the music.)

Posted by: Isabel at December 19, 2007 12:47 PM

I love Trans-Siberian Orchestra! I wanted to go see them at the Verizon Center, but they were a little out of my price range. Maybe next year (if they come back).

Posted by: Stephanie at December 19, 2007 1:28 PM

I hear you on this one Chris. It's all about the big band lounge music... (I always think Frank sounds like he is trying to summon the waitress for another drink.) I know you don't drink but nothing says Christmas like nicely chilled cocktail, and big band classic.

More contemporary classics for the half empty part of me:
Fairytale of New York, The Pogues
Momma says Santa can't stay, Dwight Yoakam
The Christmas Incident, Ben Folds Five.

The more classical:
Loreena McKennit's Snow
Handel's Messiah.
Choir of the Bells.

And the guiltiest pleasure of them all: Trans Syberian Orchestra. :) Who knew those classics need a little guitar solo.

Posted by: Nat at December 19, 2007 2:23 PM

I've got a mix of the traditional Bing Crosby and Dean Martin, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, various remakes of the classics, and Shrek and South Park versions of Christmas carols. The Shrek 12 Days of Christmas song is a must-hear!

Posted by: Stephanie at December 19, 2007 3:02 PM

I'm with you on the classics. In addition, I'm a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan's remake of Gordon Lightfoot's Song For a Winter's Night. Technically not a Christmas tune, but an excellent song nonetheless. I also love the David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth. BNL's Christmas CD always brings a smile. And for some crazy reason I really love The Cat Carol by Meryn Cadell, even though it always makes me cry (my cat died at Christmastime 3 years ago.) I'm a sap.

Posted by: Latte Mommy at December 19, 2007 5:21 PM

i just picked up Christmas with the Chipmunks (for my 5 year old) and we're all diggin' it. though, my favorite christmas music memory goes to the warped Little Drummer Boy album we used to have... pah rump pah pum puuuuuummmmm.

Posted by: monique at December 19, 2007 5:37 PM

Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney. I know, cheesey, but I love that song. Makes me feel young again!

Posted by: Maribeth at December 19, 2007 6:37 PM

Growing up, it just wasn't Christmas without mom and dad fighting about the Christmas tree with Freddy Fender Christmas music playing in the background. We have home videos, from 3 separate years, of us kids opening presents...and mom and dad having the same fight in the background with the same Christmas music playing. It was awesome...good times, gooooood times.

Posted by: Leilani at December 19, 2007 8:26 PM

I'm a big fan of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", and there are sooo many versions. I love the melancholy versions the best. I just downloaded the ringtone by former American Idol contestant George Huff. He did a great job. But Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, et al, now that's the way to do Christmas songs.

Posted by: coolchick at December 19, 2007 8:44 PM

I also prefer the "classics" though I really like the a few of the "A Very Special Christmas" CDs (they have the proceeds go towards the Special Olympics), particularly the first and second ones they put out.

Recently (OK, within the last 5 years or so), I've gotten into old school bluesy Christmas songs. I particularly like the "Santa Claus Blues" CD, which has songs by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald (who sings my all-time favorite, "Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney"), Count Basie and his orchestra, and Louis Armstrong.

And lastly, I'm liking "big band" Christmas music, which sometimes mixes in with the bluesy stuff. Oh, and TSO. 'Cos they rock.

My favorite Christmas "skit"? Cheech and Chong's "Santa Claus and His Old Lady." It's classic!

Please just don't give me boy band remakes. Oh, and I couldn't care less if Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. She most likely deserved it! (I.Hate.That.Song.)

I'm done now. Thanks, I feel better.

Posted by: ironic1 at December 19, 2007 9:27 PM

Anything by Diana Krall (but especially Christmas Time is Here) or Oscar Peterson (for a jazzy Christmas.) Louis Armstrong's "Winter Wonderland". Oh OK, and the Chrismas song by Nat King Cole. Holly Cole's "Christmas Blues". Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby". And as a kind snarky antidote to the oversaccharine stuff, Michael Franks' "I bought you a plastic star for your aluminum tree."

Posted by: alison at December 19, 2007 10:39 PM

As much as I try to resist it only the music that was on the one tape my parents had when I was a kid really gives me a feeling of Christmas. It contained "The little drummer boy", "Last Christmas", the incredibly sad "Christmas was a friend of mine" by I think Fay Lovsky, Slade's Merry X-mas and ended with Abba's New Year.

Some stuff that was contemporary at the time and the biggest cheese ever written.

My dad tries to update the music every year and my mom and me always force him to go back to the tape. Ricky Martin singing "ajajajaj it's Christmas" and the Christmas macarena just do not do the trick.

This year I've been collecting indie Christmas music from several blogs (which I of course did not listen to yet) and discovered the OC Chrismukkah album which is not half bad.

Favourite non-tape songs though are "Fairytale of New York"by The Pogues and Kristy McColl (?), mainly because it contains quite a bit of swearing .

And of course the Dutch song Flappie which tells off the sad day when young Youp could not find his rabbit, heard his dad doing someting strange in the shed, but was not allowed by his mom to go in, he just had to play nicely and then he would get "something sweet".

Christmas day comes and when the main course arrives dad exclaims: "Look, there he is! On your plate!"

The next day dad was missing and little Youp told mom that she could not go into the shed and would get "something sweet" if she played nciely.

Posted by: mikkie at December 20, 2007 7:21 AM

It's not Christmas without Ella Fitzgerald.

Posted by: Jenny at December 20, 2007 8:20 AM

Snowden's White Christmas is simply dreamy.

Posted by: krystyn at December 20, 2007 12:12 PM

I'm with you 100% on all of the old classic Christmas tunes. Did anyone mention "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Dean Martin? It's one of my favorites! Oh, and the only time I ever listen to Perry Como is when he sings Christmas music.

Posted by: Beth in StL at December 20, 2007 8:24 PM

(hides) Sadly, nothing. I love Christmas, but loathe Christmas music. OK, some of the Elvis stuff is alright. Ok, you can throw tomatoes at me if you want. :)

Posted by: Dawn at December 22, 2007 1:50 PM

I love a lot of the older songs too. Also, the Barenaked Ladies Christmas cd, especially God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, with Sarah McLachlan. And I really enjoy Sting's new version of I Saw Three Ships. Very different.

As a kid/teen, I always loved one of my mom's Christmas albums, A John Gary Christmas. Last year I managed to find it on cd. It has traditional songs and some that I've only ever heard on that album. However, Silent Night just isn't the same without the skip in the third verse. ;-)

Posted by: Kelley at December 23, 2007 12:05 AM

Even though I am not religious, I am a HUGE fan of Xmas music. All kinds. I did the greeblemonkey mix with Xmas music this month too.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at December 28, 2007 9:26 PM