Christmas Music Playlist: Favorites and Fruitcake

The window to listen to Christmas music is short, unless you happen to be WODS radio in Boston .. they roll out the holiday loop in the beginning of November .. a wee bit early kids.  Anyway, now that we’re safely in December, I’ve been listening to a wide sampling of the songs of the season.  So here’s some tunes for you to consider, or in one case, to avoid at all costs!

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland

This song has been tinkered with quite a bit over the years since the original isn’t all tinsel and lights.  In fact there’s a darkness to the original lyrics that give the melody a haunting beauty, “Someday soon we all will be together/If the fates allow/Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” .. not exactly Deck The Halls.  But, it’s real and heartfelt and a reminder that the holiday season carries its share of challenges too.

The Friendly Beasts – Sufjan Stevens

This is a completely charming version of a 12th Century French carol.  It’s told from the perspective of the animals who were in the Bethlehem barn the night Jesus was born. Sweet, folky, and invoked with the true spirit of Christmas.  In fact the entire “Songs For Christmas” collection is a treasure trove of great stuff, and it’s rarely played on commercial radio, which is a shame.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love

Sell it Darlene, sell it!  For all you Christmas romantics this is your song.  Phil Spector may be crazy as a bedbug, but this uber-produced classic is the “Wall Of Sound”  in all its glory.  Darlene WANTS you home … hop to it.

Merry Christmas Darling – Karen Carpenter

That voice, man, that voice.  Totally unique .. deep, crystalline, heart-wrenching.  This song can be a toss off in lesser hands, but not in hers.

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole

Cool and sophisticated.  You can almost hear the ice in the cocktail glass and smell the cloud of cigarette smoke in the studio.  I love his vocal nonchalance too .. it’s like I’m trying, but I’m not really trying.  Done to death and played to death, but I still love it.

What Child Is This – Vince Guaraldi Trio

Who’d have thought a melody that dates back to the middle ages could become a jazz standard?  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a classic for many reasons, including Linus in the spotlight, but it’s the musical soundtrack by Guaraldi that cements its reputation.

All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

I am not immune from the charms of power pop.  Sincere?  Hardly. Catchy?  Absolutely.  You can’t fight this one, it just pulls you in. Make sure you serve it up with a side dish of the movie “Love Actually.”

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman – Bright Eyes

Conor Oberst and friends bring a little Nebraska angst to the holiday party.  This, however, is a rather jaunty version of the carol, and  has a nice homemade feel.  It’s like the ornament you made in art class in 4th grade that’s become a family favorite.

Christmas Is Interesting – Jonathan Coulton

Who doesn’t like a little naughty with the nice.  This one ISN’T for the kids party!  Hilarious, vulgar, and right on the mark!

The Christmas Shoes – NewSong

Remember that fruit cake I mentioned in the title of this blog? And I’m talking about the really HORRIBLE fruit cake, the kind even the rock bottom discount stores won’t sell.  Well, here’s the musical equivalent.  SO over the top, and yet it’s played and played and played some more.  You can’t re-gift this tune, but you can certainly clear a room by including it in your mix!

So what to you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  What about your list?  Drop a comment here, or jump on the Channel 5 Facebook page and keep the conversation going.

Jingle, jingle!

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