Majic 100, the easy listening radio station here in town – which I find myself more and more drawn to – went to an all Christmas music format over two weeks ago. It seems early, but actually no time is too early for Christmas music, if you ask me.
I usually have a very, very narrow definition of music I like: jangly acoustic guitar rock with a slight folk sound, male lead singer, and clever/punnish lyrics. But throw the word “Christmas” into the title somewhere, and I become a musical strumpet, suddenly grooving along in my car to country/pop/cheese/rap/whatever. It’s all good when it’s Christmasy!
Although I’m happy enough to listen to whatever Majic coughs up during its 24 hour Christmas music cycle, I also have a full pack of Christmas CDs in the van – it has a six disc changer, which let me tell you, was Cutting Edge back in 2006, but now seems oddly quaint, like I should just give up and get an iPod already. But until I embrace the iTechnology, I’m happy to live with my full deck of CDs in the car, so I thought I’d take a moment here to recommend my personal favourites (links not sponsored or anything, because LAZY).
It’s a Hi-5 Christmas by children’s act Hi-5. Noooooot for everyone. This CD throws out the cheesiest of synth pop combined with some pretty basic singing and it’s all cheery, cheery, cheery in a kids’ TV show kind of way. But it’s also the first Christmas CD that comes out ever year, because we will never get enough of such original hits as Santa Wear Your Shorts, Five Days ‘Til Christmas, and Groovy Christmas. There’s even a track where The Night Before Christmas has been set to music, and it ROCKS. If you’re the type who delights in unironically wearing a green knit sweater with a huge reindeer in a jingle bell hat on it each year for the holidays, then this CD is for you.
Christmas Portrait and An Old Fashioned Christmas by The Carpenters. Here I further reveal why I’m being drawn to the easy listening station by admitting that I unabashedly LOVE The Carpenters. These two Christmas albums are masterpieces of arrangement, seamlessly blending carol after carol with a full choir, instrumentals, and Karen Carpenter’s angel like voice. It’s a real testament to the skill of arranger Richard Carpenter – every single Christmas song you know and love is in here somewhere, along with new favourites (personal faves: Christmas Waltz, Sleigh Ride, and my all-time favourite, their version of Home for the Holidays). Super secret fun fact: I always fantasized, as a teen, of turning these two albums into a figure skating Christmas special, complete with casting for each and every song. GEEK.
The Edge Of Christmas, a compilation of various alterna-rock acts from the 80s and 90s, so basically right in my wheelhouse. This CD is out of print so it’ll cost you an arm and a leg to get it, but maybe have a peek at the track listing and see how many you can just buy standalone on iTunes. Must-haves: Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight) by The Ramones, Fairytale of New York by The Pogues, 2000 Miles by The Pretenders (which, no matter how many times it is covered, will NEVER be as good as when Chrissy Hynde is singing it, she is THE BOMB).
Christmas by Michael Buble – just got this one last year. Blueblay, as he is known in our house, is someone I would never listen to at other times of the year. But at Christmas, his version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” makes me want to have a VERY happy holiday, if you know what I mean.
Maybe This Christmas, another alterna-rock Christmas album that was created solely to feature the song “Maybe This Christmas” by Ron Sexsmith, which indeed is probably the greatest Christmas song ever written. Other tracks – including Winter Wonderland by Phantom Planet, 12/23/95 by Jimmy Eat World (apparently very rare), and Jack Johnson’s brilliant, best-ever spin on Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, make this a must-listen every Christmas season. Word of warning though: this disc also contains the song “Bizarre Christmas Incident” by Ben Folds Five which is crass, gross, and totally depressing, and should be skipped. I actually burned a new copy of this CD with this one song removed just so I could listen in the car without having to get totally pissed at Ben Folds every time it came around. Ben Folds, you are HARSHING MY CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.
Nick at Nite’s A Classic Cartoon Christmas – which I bought at Mrs. Tiggy Winkles a few years ago after almost breaking my face, smiling to “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other” from the classic Rudolph special, which at the time I hadn’t heard in years. Also contains songs from The Grinch, the Muppets Christmas Special, the Charlie Brown Special, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It’s like my childhood encapsulated in on CD, and I force this one (repeatedly!) on the kids every year. Just noticed there was a second volume of this – hopefully it doesn’t cost a fortune because then I’ll have to break it to the kids that something mysterious happened to their university fund.
Glee Christmas Album – I’m hot and cold on this one, but I do so love their version of We Need a Little Christmas, as well as the all boy rock-out version of Jingle Bells. The kids really love it though – this is one of their favourites and the one Gal Smiley, in particular, asks for every year. I just searched Amazon and I see they are up to FOUR Glee Christmas albums now, way to milk that brand! (Of course I will shortly be buying them all.)
Missing from my collection: Bing Crosby (I actually have one of his CDs, but the sound quality is so bad I hardly ever listen to it), Boney M (saw their Christmas CD at WalMart last week and have been dreaming of “Mary’s Boy Child” ever since – my parents must have listened to that album a thousand times when I was young), and Mariah Carey. Oh, and Idina Menzel has a new Christmas CD this year, too. So much Christmas music, so little time – especially because Sir Monkeypants has a strict “only between Lynn’s birthday (Nov 18) and New Year’s Eve” Christmas music rule. I best get cracking!
What are your Christmas music favourites?