Christmas Music for Everyone

14 Dec

This year I have been kind of obsessed with Christmas.  The manic crafting and cooking is normal for me during Halloween and to an extent during December, but this year I’ve taken it to new levels.  The sad thing about Christmas crafting is that since most of it is for gifting, I can’t share my progress on the blog.  The even sadder thing is that of all the hours I’ve spent sewing, stitching and cooking, only a few of my ventures have been successful.  I could present evidence of misshapen potholders or deformed ornaments, but I’d prefer to keep my Christmas spirit.

I think I’m able to keep my enthusiasm thanks to my curated collection of Christmas music.  Although certain individuals think it’s sacrilegious, I adore finding new and quirky Christmas music.  I do enjoy me some Bing Crosby and Perry Como, but hearing any song on repeat for a month and a half makes me queasy so I avoid the classics in my own time so I can enjoy it when I’m with those that shun the modern renditions.  I believe anyone can benefit from a little variety in their holiday listening, so I bring you a guide to my favorite alternatives to the local 24/7 adult contemporary station’s Christmas offerings.

For your mom, who just wants an excuse to drink a fancy cocktail and feel sophisticated
Joy to the World by Pink Martini
If you’d like to travel the world through a Christmas album, but don’t want to hear Feliz Navidad or that awful song about Christmas in Africa, this album has it covered. Pink Martini is a “little orchestra” from Portland, Oregon featuring an array of instruments and NPR’s Ari Shapiro (on occasion).  There is little to dislike about their upbeat, eclectic style.
Must listen: The percussive multilingual Auld Lang Syne that would sound right at home in a New Orleans carnival or the Hanukkah ditty Ocho Kandelikas.

For your cousin with dyed black hair and striped knee highs.
Winter’s Night by Nox Arcana
Christmas may be a time of light and joy, but when you really think about it, that’s all to distract us from the most cold and desolate time of the year. Every green thing has died and most everything else has gone into hibernation. There’s about 2 hours of light per day, and that’s when snow isn’t making it impossible to get past your driveway. What better way to celebrate this time of darkness, than with a little gravitas.
Must listen: Veni, Veni Emmanuel or Coventry Carol, both of which will make you feel like you’re spending the holidays in a cold, gothic cathedral.

For you friend that doesn’t believe any Christmas music written after 1965 is worth listening to.
Old Time Radio Christmas by various
Forget music. It doesn’t matter how awesome it is. Even if it’s a remake of a classic by the Civil Wars, a band she herself insisted you must listen to, she’s going to dismiss it. So what shall we offer such a picky individual? I say, we treat them like the elderly curmudgeon they are and send them some old timey radio shows. Old Time Radio Christmas collects a variety of these to get started.
Must listen: I haven’t heard any of these yet, but Gene Autry in Melody Ranch sounds great, as well as the Korean Christmas Tale.

For anyone who wishes that one artist could cover every Christmas song ever written plus some.
One of Sufjan Stevens 75 Christmas albums.
Sometimes I cannot believe one man can record this many Christmas songs. Sure, quite a few of them clock in at under a minute. His 8-bit infused It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is only 48 seconds. Still, the man has his classic Songs for Christmas and this year’s Silver & Gold, which doesn’t sound intimidating until you realize each is a 5 disc compilation.
Must listen: Christmas Unicorn for the postmodern and kind of heretical or Put the Lights on the Tree for the cheerily depressed.

For me you, who jams out to anything with more than 12 beats per minute .
Holidays Rule by Various
Yeah, yeah, it’s a Starbucks CD. By that measure I am so extremely uncool I should just give up the internet except for posting personal messages to my relatives in my Facebook status bar, but I like this. It has The Civil Wars, Andrew Bird and Punch Brothers! I’m a sucker for covers so pretty much every Christmas album is on the top of my list, but one with covers by some of my favorite artists is a slam dunk.
Must Listen: May Ev’ry Day be Christmas by Irma Thomas and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and What are You Doing Christmas Eve? by The Head and the Heart, two songs that make me feel like dancing around my apartment.

So what are your favorite Christmas songs? Anything you’d suggest for these people? I obviously love adding new songs to my repertoire!  I’m especially interested in a good Bluegrassy or Folk Christmas album.

~April (in CHRISTMAS!)

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One Response to “Christmas Music for Everyone”

  1. wanderdrossel December 15, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Hey! I resemble that remark. Also, you’re welcome for forcing you to listen to the Civil Wars.

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