Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Mix 2007

I have put together a mix of "eclectic" Christmas songs that has been spinning in my iTunes for days now. It is a very unusual collection, something that I started compiling mostly as a joke, but I've found that I like it more and more. The original intent of this was to be pretty irreverent towards the Christmas song genre (as you'll soon see), and I think I succeeded pretty well. Too bad all of you can't hear them as you read this.

Track 1--Here We Come A-Caroling, The Ray Conniff Singers (1965).
I know that I have told stories about the place that the Ray Conniff Singers holds in my own familial Christmas lore. Imagine Lawrence Welk-style Christmas squareness and you're getting the right idea.

Favorite lyric:
"We are not daily beggars out to beg from door-to-door/We're the Conniff Singers, whom you have heard before. Love and Joy come to you, and a Merry Christmas too . . ."

Track 2--Drop the Needle, It's Christmas, Dumbledore (2005).
Here is where the original intent of this Christmas mix begins to become apparent. This song was originally found on A Magical Christmas of Magic, a Christmas album put out by Harry and the Potters, a Wizard Rock band. You might not give a flying fig about HP and all of his adventures, but this is a catchy tune that suggests what it might be like if the Hogwarts headmaster decided to get down at the Yule Ball.

Favorite lyric: "Voldemort's back, but he's got no style. Dumbledore's here to drive the girls wild. On the dance floor no one's better, everybody wants to party with the Master. My Christmas rule is to rid the world of evil; let me hear 'Ooh!' from all the party people!"

Track 3--We're Going to the Country, Sufjan Stevens (2006).
I picked up the Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas album last year and really enjoy its country-fried spin on familiar Christmas tunes and hymns, along with some songs of Stevens own creation. (I think.) This song isn't "funny" per se, but I like it's sense of "otherness."

Favorite element: The mixture of banjo and sleigh bells.

Track 4--Skating, Vince Guaraldi Trio (?).
One of the musical interludes from Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, one of the definitive holiday TV shows of the last fifty years. My brother MSquared compiled his own Christmas mix several years ago to give to each of us and this and other songs from the VGT were prominently featured.

Favorite element: Syncopated piano beats and a brushed snare drum.

Track 5--The Sweater Song, The Hermione/Crookshanks Experience (2007).
No, it's not the Weezer song of the same name. This song is another Wizard Rock song from the recently released charity album Jingle Spells.It imagines what Hermione wants most of all for Christmas. (If you would like to purchase this album--all of the proceeds go to Book Aid International--you can now download it from iTunes. Just hit the iTunes site and search for Jingle Spells.)

Favorite lyric: "It's just a measly sweater, easy enough to have done. Ron Weasley, get your mom to make me one."

Track 6--Come on! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance! Sufjan Stevens (2006).
This song, in typical Sufjan style, has a very repetitive rhythm to it. Some people (like Lynda for instance) find that insufferable. I think it adds a musical tension to the song. (And don't more Christmas songs need tension?)

Favorite lyric: "Santa is here/Sleigh bells are ringing/21 elves/they are all singing/K-Mart is closed/So is the bakery/Everyone's home/watching TV."

Track 7--Joy to the World The Ray Conniff Singers (1965).
Pretty straightforward song, the one everyone knows and cherishes. But what makes this one indelible is the doo-wop beat that the Conniff Singers present. Can you swing and be square at the same time? (The answer here is . . . emphatically . . YES!)

Favorite moment: One minute and 45 seconds into the song, a female back up singer has a sort of religious/choral orgasm. It has made me laugh every year for 30 plus years.

Track 8--O Holey Night Ministry of Magic (2007).
Now, here is a thing of satirical beauty. Imagine, if you will, what might happen if you take the imminently sacred song "O Holy Night" and recast it to be a meditation on what happened to George Weasley's ear in
Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Favorite lyric: "I'm falling off/my broom, and I can't hear/out of my left side./It all went black, as it became/the night I lost my ear/O Holey Night."

Track 9--Hey Guys! It's Christmas Time Sufjan Stevens (2006).
Here's a Christmas song with a driving rock n' roll beat! It provides a nice contrast to the actual lyricism of Ministry of Magic's "O Holey Night."

Favorite element: I don't exactly know what it is, but there is some keyboard-like instrument that has been distorted (sort of like listening underwater) that separates the verses. I dig it.

Track 10--The Twelve Days of Wizard Christmas
Gred and Forge (2007).
It's yet another rewriting of that venerable old Christmas tune. You'll either like this or you won't. I have no way of persuading you.

Favorite lyric: "On the sixth day of Christmas, Lockhart gave to me, six signed portraits . . . etc."

Track 11--Do They Know It's Christmas Band Aid (2001).
Yes, it's THAT song. The one where Bono "thanks God it's them, instead of Yooooouuuuu!" This is a Modern Classic that recalls a certain moment in people's lives. It's not, at all, my favorite song in the Christmas genre, but it seemed to fit the snarky tone behind this particular Christmas mix. Forgive me if you hate this song beyond all reason. (Apparently, you can't get an individual download of this song from iTunes these days. You can purchase the entire Now! That's What I Call Christmas album that it is compiled on, but I got the hook up from my professional DJ brother-in-law.)

Favorite lyric/moment: Bono has his own sort of musical/empathetic orgasm, as described above.

Track 12--Oh! Christmas Tree
The Whomping Willows (2007).
If you are in a Wizard Rock band called the Whomping Willows (named after the semi-sentient, cranky tree of the same name that pummels anything that gets close to it), and your "shtick" is that you--the human singer named Matt--is regularly possessed by the spirit of said tree to sing songs, what OTHER Christmas song would you care to sing? But wait! Don't sing when you rap badly! YES!!

Favorite lyric: "The Giant Squid is a hit with all the ladies. He'll get more groupies than Sebastian Bach did in the Eighties."

Track 13--O Tannenbaum The Ray Conniff Singers (1965).
Yep, they're back again, this time attempting to wipe out the Tannenbaum rap of the previous track with an uber-traditional version of the old German favorite that mixes English lyrics, German lyrics, and only Ray Conniff knows what else.

Favorite moment: Near the end of the song, the Singers fortissimo it up another notch, to really bring Tree-lovin' home in a big way. You'll never look at that blinking thing in the corner of your living room the same way again.

Track 14--Christmas With the Weasleys (Or What You Will)
The Remus Lupins (2007).
My favorite Wizard Rock singer helps bring this mix closer to an end with another fond look at everyone's favorite wizarding family.

Favorite moment: It wouldn't be a Remus Lupins song without a sing-along at the end: "This Christmas, let's make love last . . . the whole year."

Track 15--Linus and Lucy The Vince Guaraldi Trio (?).
Another shout out to Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. This is the song that the kids keep breaking out into dance with while Charlie/then Lucy are trying to direct the Christmas pageant. Try NOT to tap your feet to this one.

Favorite moment: Other than imagining the various "signature dances" of the Peanuts gang, I love when Schroeder's main piano line shifts into the more improvisational, jazzy interludes throughout the song.

Track 16--That Was the Worst Christmas Ever! Sufjan Stevens (2006).
Here's hoping you won't be saying this after listening to these songs. But, it seemed the best title to place here at the end, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Favorite lyric: I don't have one yet. I'll keep listening . . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You Rock! Thanks for the gift! I look forward to getting to know Wizard rock and crazy Christmas tunes!

karen :~}