So, it’s come to be that time of year again. As per holiday tradition, I’ve come to present you with my gift of various Christmas carols and songs that I’ve been taking note of.
Now, normally I present you with a list of absolutely terrible songs to start. But, in my attempts to follow my unstated goal of making this blog more upbeat and positive, I’ve decided to forgo that half of the tradition this year and just jump right into the good times.
So, no more lollygagging; Let’s get this sleigh ride in gear!
A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time – Jane Lynch
This has to be the newest song I’ve ever praised in this annual series of mine. Most new Christmas songs I hear are usually just rehashings of older songs that were done much better before and/or adhere to the tropes of modern pop so tightly that they feel out of place in the season.
Not the case with A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time. Not only does this happy and bouncy number stand out from the beige sea of flatly flavorless pop music, it does so by bringing back one of my favorite genres of music; Swing.
Swing is great for when you want to liven up a party; It has all the danceability of modern EDM with the classic feeling of refinement that comes with Jazz. And on a day that should be all about celebration while fondly remembering or golden years and spreading joy to others like a classy gent/lady, a song like this really helps to put me in the spirit.
Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
I mentioned in the past that of all the Christmas songs that get remade every year, Little Drummer Boy was the one that hits with me more often than it misses. I also mentioned that of all the people to cover it Burl Ives was probably my favorite.
Well, I need to amend that statement. Burl is great, don’t get me wrong, but he comes an EXTREMELY close second to Bing and David.
You’d think that pairing one of the classic king crooners with a god of Experimental Rock would be discordant at best. But then you remember how Bowie’s softer, almost dove-like tones make a perfect complement to Bing’s dulcet bass.
I also found myself enjoying the way the two sets of lyrics play off each other. While Bing retells the tale of the boy with nothing to give but a simple song, David reminds us why we need to follow that boy’s example and make the world as comfortable a home as possible for all of us.
Sleigh Ride – Los Straitjackets
You know what I never realized about most covers until this year? Half the reason I don’t like them is because the vocals are sung by people whose voices don’t carry nearly enough emotion and/or experience to justify them performing it. A lot of these covers work better just by making them instrumentals and letting the music be the centerpiece.
Case in point; Los Straitjackets’ Surf Rock cover of Sleigh Ride is an entertaining piece Christmas spirit; juxtaposing the joys of a winter ride through the snow with the music most closely associated with warm, sunny beaches.
Much like the aforementioned A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time, it’s a lively song that stands out among the more repetitive sound of other Christmas songs played back to back and that makes it a valuable spirit-lifter.