Friday, December 18, 2009
My Grown-Up Christmas Playlist
As we continue our steady pace toward Christmas. there is much fun to be had with tree- trimming, holiday parties, office parties, present-wrapping sessions and family gatherings (hopefully there's also some time for each of us to sit with a cup of nog and relax in front of the tree). At all of these times, it's good to have a solid Christmas playlist of songs to get you in the Holiday Spirit. Christmas albums are huge product in the music industry this time of year, so you've got a lot of covers of standard carols from which to choose for your set list. You've got your standards from Brenda Lee and Bing Crosby. You've got your Judy Garland-as-Debbie Downer version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." You've got everything from your Chimpunks Song to Mariah's "All I Want For Christmas is you." Along with that, you've got your old school religious fare that have been covered by pretty much every major artist out there. Although these SHOULD be enough, I wanted to suggest a few much-loved but possibly overlooked songs, that add some odd-ball charm to any yuletide itunes library. Here are 10 songs you shouldn't forget this year:
1. "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" - John Denver & The Muppets. The whole Denver/Muppets Album is a treat, but if I had to choose one song that stands out for me, it's this one because of the classic exchange between Gonzo and Piggy. Piggy is alarmed that the group demands "Piggy Pudding." but Gonzo assures her it is Figgy Pudding, made with figs (...and bacon.)
2. "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" - Performend by Annie Lennox and Al Green. End Theme from SCROOGED! A movie that I have not seen on TV nearly enough this Holiday Season. There are other versions of this song, but this one is the one to go for, in my opinion. It cannot be denied, and should not be forgotten at Christmastime!
3. "Christmas Vacation" - Performed by Mavis Staples. Another Classic Xmas song from a Classic Xmas Movie. Hip Hip Hooray for Christmas Vacation! I remember as kids, my cousins and I totally dug the opening animation to this movie and watched it over and over and over again, listening to this song. The rest of this movie is pretty damn funny too. :)
4. "Dominic, The Donkey" - written by Ray Allen, Sam Saltzberg, and Lou Monte, sung by Monte. The song describes a donkey who helps Santa Claus bring presents to children in Italy. Is it a novelty song? Is it onl loved by Italians? Is it somehow poking fun at Italians? I don't care. I love it. When Santa visits his paisons, with Dominic he'll be.Because the reindeer cannot climb the hills of Italy.
5. "12 Pains Of Christmas" By Bob Rivers & Others. This IS certainly a novelty song. I enjoy it because Christmastime, as lovely as it is, is filled with tons of crap that fills us all with lots of anxiety. I also like that as the song goes on the "carollers" stop naming the pains and start complaining about them when it's their time to sing. She's a witch! I hate her! Oh, I don't even KNOW half these people! It never gets old for me.
6. "What's This?" - Performed by Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Xmas. Part Halloween Movie, Part Christmas movie. This song is all about the wonder and joy of discovering winter and holiday cheer. It's delightful.
7. "All Alone For Christmas" Performed by Darlene Love. This song is from the Home Alone 2 Soundtrack. I don't believe I've ever seen Home Alone 2, even as a child. I do remember waking up one December morning when I was just a kid, and the song playing on the radio was All Alone For Christmas and I was like "what's this from?" and the radio lady told me it was from Home Alone 2. I still have no interest in seeing the movie, but I do have affection for the song.
8. "Christmas Wrapping" Performed by The Waitresses. This song (along with Last Christmas, by Wham) is the quintessential 80's Christmas tune. Oh sure, there's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" but I like the randomness of this song much better than Band Aid's offering to the Christmas Cannon. I think it's the saxophone that really makes the song.
9. "One More Sleep Til Christmas" - Kermit The Frog & Others. Muppet Christmas Carol is another great Xmas Album from the Muppets. You can't go wrong with One More Sleep Til Christmas. But you could also enjoy "It Feels Like Christmas." "Marley and Marley" and perhaps if you like to torture yourself emotionally during the Holidays (and who among us doesn't?) You could treat yourself to Michael Caine dueting on "When Love Is Gone."
10. "You're A Mean One. Mr. Grinch" Performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, not Boris Karloff - don't be fooled! He only did the narration. This is as classic as they come, but you might forget it as a Christmas Song, because it doesn't really mention Christmas. But all us Grinches out there need an anthem and this is it! The lyrics from Dr. Seuss can't be beat.
Honorable Mention: "The Snow Miser Song/The Heat Miser Song" from A Year Without Santa Claus. This song feels like it goes on for like 10 minutes. That's probably a result of it being two songs back to back. It's a catchy tune, though! If you're a fan of AYWOSC, then you are probably a fan of Heat Miser and/or Cold Miser. Depends on whether you prefer a White Christmas or a Green Christmas. You prolly think the other Miser is "too much."
A FINAL NOTE: My favorite Christmas Song is "Holly Jolly Christmas" as sung by Burl Ives. This is probably because it's the "happy ending song" from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, which is also my favorite Christmas TV Special. HJC is my favorite of the songs in that special, but it's hardly the only good one. You've got "There's Always Tomorrow," "We're A Couple of Misfits" and "The Island of Misfit Toys."
Enjoy your carols, everyone! And oh by golly, have a holly jolly Christmas this year!