Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My 10 Favorite Christmas Songs

I love Christmas music, always have, always will. We grew up listening to all the Firestone records which would hit the record player about November 30th. Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Anne Murray... those were the artists who created the sound of Christmas for me.

Then came A Very Special Christmas and that was when I learned that taking a classic and changing it around a bit also has a great sound. So what rotates through my iPod the most in the month of December? Come listen.

10. Rebecca St. James - O Come All Ye Faithful

Jesus meets gay-disco club. Rebecca St. James is just one of the many Christian artists that will be covered in these ten songs, but this song has one of the most infectious beats I've ever heard. She sounds like Alanis Morresette and rocks out to the Pet Shop Boys.

9. Cece Winans - Do You Hear What I Hear
The first half of this number delivers pretty straighforward, but then Ms. Winans adds this bad-ass jazz sound which provides a nice baseline of sass. She is then backed by a choir and she starts asking the "Do you hear?" in this almost reprimanding tone. It sounds weird, but trust me, it's rather cool.

8. Points of Grace - Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Larry always calls this the "Sister Act III" song; four white women jam out in complete Lauryn Hill style. This song hits full rhythym from the moment it starts. Nothing screams Whoopie Goldberg in a nun's outfit at Christmas than this.

7. Whiteheart - The Little Drummer Boy
When you do a search for Whiteheart on Amazon, the searches will lead you to heavy metal christian groups like Stryper. Whiteheart tried to capitalize on the huge Christian Metal scene (umm, yeah), however, they hit a real winner with one of my favorites. It begins with vocals that sounds like an androgynous Anne Murray (is that redundant?) and end with more a Steelheart sound. An amazing rendition.

6. Cocteau Twins - Frosty the Snowman
A classic alternative band from my post-college years, this group sounds like it can barely execute the song without falling into a stuper. Hallucingenic Holidays There has never really been a version of this song until this one. If you grew up in the 80's, this group would have rivaled the Dream Academy or the Cranberries.

5. MercyMe - Gloria
Another varied take on a classic with a fairly monotone verse that leads until in a rocking chorus. There's not a lot of give to lead singer Bart Millard's sound, but the spins throughout the song make this one a toe-tapper. Most of this CD has new versions of the classics. This group has a great knack for reinventing the Christmas sound.

4. SheDaisy - Deck the Halls
If you're not familiar with this group, they came on the scene right after the Dixie Chicks. Three Mormom sisters who now have four CD's in addition to their holiday songs. This has the slightest feel of country, but the funky mismatch of the lyrics make this a really fun number.

3. The Cast of Miss Saigon - I Saw Three Ships
We went to New York about five years ago to see the Lion King and I got hooked into the Broadway Cares: Carols for a Cure series. Most of the songs are the standard fare, but every once in a while, a gem like this emerges. The song beging with a whisper; the cast starts off with a classic choir sound. About three sentences into the number, you realize they've taken about 10 Christmas classics and merged them into one song, each playing off the other. Supportedby a single guitar, the voices are allowed to carry the weight of the lyrics.

2. Angie Aparo - Silent Night
There is nothing more haunting than the voice of Angie Aparo. You know him only as the writer of Faith Hill's "Cry", but his own delivery of that and the rest of his songs earns him a spot as one of my favorite performers. His range gives him a sound of Ed Kowalczyk mixed with the slighest touch of Clay Aiken. The song retains the slow rhythm allowing him to alter his range mid-lyric and push the song more than any other version I've heard.

1. Selah - Light of the Stable
Another Christian group delivers a stirring new song for the holidays. Starting with a simple Indigo-Girls-like guitar strings and a four-part harmony, this song had me dancing the first time I heard it. Though it's faster than most Christmas songs, it still can shuffle through your Ipod without messing the balancing of sounds of the other holiday songs.



Blogger Lola and Ava said...

Uhhh . . . hello? No Kylie with "Santa Baby" (so much better than Madonna, almost as good as Marilyn Monroe); no Wham! and "Last Christmas?" Dude, you are truly slipping. You ought to check out Sufjan Stevens' new Christmas album. The girls have turned me on to him. Corey might actually like it, too. Very peppy and dancable.

Loved the card . . . nuns on sleds!

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

What? No metal?


10:02 AM  
Anonymous Genuine said...

Thanks for turning me on to the Mercy Me Christmas album. I need that stocking stuffer.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently ordered a CD of Irish Christmas music we listened to as children. There is nothing better than Eamon Kelly's story of Christmas Eve in Ireland.

2:59 PM  

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