Saturday, December 24, 2011
My Christmas playlist
Running right now on my iPhone's Christmas playlist as we prepare the house for tonight's Christmas Eve festivities (alphabetically by artist):
• Do They Know It's Christmas: Band Aid (1984)
Overly sentimental, but a classic. One criticism: I know it was 1984, but did Simon LeBon really deserve the longest solo? Also, Sting and Bono have great harmony.
• Sleigh Ride: Debbie Gibson (1992)
OK, so I never got over my teenaged crush on Debbie Gibson. But Gibson also shows a little soul on this sassy take on a classic.
• Oiche Chiun (Silent Night): Enya (1997)
Enya has always been haunting, and she gives a little dignity back to the holiday here.
• She Won't Be Home: Erasure (1988)
I am absolutely flummoxed that this isn't considered a Christmas pop classic. Vince and Andy were never in finer form than this tale of a lonely Christmas.
• Baby, It's Cold Outside: Glee Cast (2010)
Darren Criss is about the only thing watchable on "Glee" these days, and his character Blaine's duet with boyfriend Kurt is sweet and smooth.
• Happy Xmas (War Is Over): John (Lennon) & Yoko And The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir (1971)
Hands down a classic. A very effective anti-war song wrapped up in a Christmas song. The kid's choir is sometimes overused in pop music, but has a great effect here.
• Christmas Bells: Original Broadway Cast of "Rent" (1996)
Jonathan Larson's talent for writing overlapping harmonies and switching to multiple storylines within one song was never on better display than in this number. From the despair of Christmas among the poor in AIDS-ridden early '90s New York to Roger and Mimi's courtship to Angel and Benny's bonding, this is one of the most-critical songs in advancing the plot. Too bad the movie cut it.
• Fairytale Of New York: The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl (1987)
Talk about an epic storyline. When a song starts off "It was Christmas Eve in the drunk tank" and contains the most-unexpected line of "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse. I pray God it's our last" in an intentional attempt to make us loathe the characters, you know it's a good one.
• Christmas In Hollis: Run-DMC (1987)
It seems 1987 was not only a good year for Christmas music, but it also taught us that hip-hop could cover the holidays as well as any other music genre with this diddy that was also featured in my all-time favorite Christmas movie: "Die Hard."
• Merry Xmas Everybody: Slade (1973)
This hard-rocking, humorous song from the original creators of such hair-band classics as "Cum on Feel the Noise" has regained popularity in recent years from its inclusion in recent Doctor Who Christmas specials.
• You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch: Thurl Ravenscroft (1966)
Written by Dr. Seuss with every bit of the verbosity for which he's famous, this is a classic.
• Christmas (Baby Please Come Home): U2 (1987)
Mostly on this list because MTV played it constantly in 1987, but also because it's a very good version of a longtime favorite.
Linus & Lucy: Vince Guaraldi Trio (1965)
Seriously, what North American child's Christmas tradition didn't have a viewing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas?" This song is not only a great jazz instrumental, but brings back fond memories in almost all who hear it.
• Christmas Wrapping: The Waitresses (1981)
Talk about your "story songs." This one rivals "American Pie" in its proto-rapped narrative, about a busy young woman's missed connections with a certain gentleman from the previous Christmas. A happy climax at the A&P over a can of cranberry sauce is just one snippet from this tune I'm happy to hear any time of year.
• Last Christmas: Wham (1984)
Stick it. This may be a guilty pleasure, but George Michael was never in truer vocal form than here, singing about the brevity of a holiday romance.