Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sonic Sunday: My Perfect Christmas

Hopefully, you all aren't sick of Christmas music already because I'm stuffing your stockings with three volumes of very special Christmas Sonic Sundays over the next few weeks!

This week, I'm offering up 15 of my personal favorite holiday tunes, which means no Kenny G! Hooray! (Note: I posted some of these a few years ago, so I may just use some of the same descriptions. I'm allowed to plagiarize myself, right?)

1. "A Fairytale of New York," The Pogues and Kirsty Macoll - It's a Christmas song. It's a St. Patrick's Day song. It's both! What could be better??

2. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," U2 - A lot of people prefer the Darlene Love original, which I also love, but I really dig U2's cover. Maybe it reminds me of a time when U2 were a great rock band and not the complacent cash cows that they are now. (Start the crazy U2 fan backlash now!)

3. "Christmas Bop," T. Rex - As I mentioned a couple of years ago when I posted this, it may be the only holiday tune that references silk jeans and space shoes. And it's fabulous. Crazy that it took a Jewish guy to write one of the world's most fun Christmas tunes.

4. "Christmas Day," Squeeze - I didn't love this song the first time I heard it, but it's so bizarre that it grew on me pretty quickly. It's kind of a funny, new wave-y look at Mary and Joseph's saga set in modern times. It's also about how Christmas wouldn't be the same without important stuff like aftershave.

5. "Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You," Billy Squier - This has been my favorite holiday song for as long as it's been around. I don't think anyone can beat it.

6. "Happy Holidays/The Holiday Season," Andy Williams - Andy is the King of Christmas, and this is one swingin' tune. Probably the only Christmas song that includes the phrase "whoop-dee-do."

7. "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms - A classic that's been covered a million times, but nothing beats Helms' original.

8. "Merry Christmas Song," INXS - A rare, original Christmas song that was distributed as a 7" fan club single back in 1982. It was written and performed by Kirk Pengilly.

9. "O Holy Night," Sufjan Stevens - This is my favorite traditional/religious Christmas song. I've never been a huge Sufjan fan, but I really love what he's done here. This song is usually belted out by power singers like Celine Dion and Martina McBride, so there's just something really understated and lovely about Sufjan's version. And you've gotta love that banjo.

10. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee - Much like Bobby Helms' "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," this song has been covered a million times, but no one will ever beat Lee's version.

11. "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)," Elvis Presley - If Elvis were still alive today, he would probably change this to "Santa Bring My Baby Back Baby Back Baby Back Ribs." (That's a repeat, but that joke still makes me laugh because I'm simple.)

12. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," Bruce Springsteen - The Boss made it cool for rockers to cover Christmas classics, and his is still the best one of all. I once got to hear him do it live and it was quite a thrill!

13. "Sleigh Ride," Harry Connick, Jr. - Best version of this song EVER. Those horns are just fantastic.

14. "Someday at Christmas," Pearl Jam - A cover of the Stevie Wonder classic that was introduced to me a while back by Beth. I never knew of it before then because I endlessly procrastinated about joining the Pearl Jam fan club. (Finally joined this year - woo hoo!) I love this version even better than the original. (Surprised? No? Didn't think so.)

15. "The Wassailing Song," Blur - This is a super-rare recording of a traditional song (not the "figgy pudding" one) that was given out as a free 7" promo at one of Blur's early gigs. I wish I could say I'd been there, but no such luck.


Hampers said...

Thanks for sharing the Christmas music. I truly believe that if we keep singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world.

Penny said...

oh boy...
You forgot Last Christmas by Jimmy Eat World :)

Ed Adams said...

It ain't Christmas without a little Bing Crosby.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

We need to talk. I hate Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and Jingle Bell Rock with a passion that burns hotter than a million suns.

SkylersDad said...

here is one of my favorites:

I miss Studio 60...

Anonymous said...

It's becoming almost a cliche to pick the Pogues/MacColl song as the best Xmas song ever, but honestly it just fucking IS! How many other Christmas songs include the word "faggot"? NONE!

And I love any Andy Williams. I heart Andy. I have his greatest hits CD and I don't care who knows it.

I like Feliz Navidad too but don't tell anyone.

Cora said...

I love that song by Squeeze. It's been stuck in my head all day, actually! I've never heard the INXS one, but now I'm definitely curious.

J.J. in L.A. said...

Haha! Funny you should mention Christmas music. Read my latest blog for my take on the subject. ; )

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the INXS! I love this song and hadn't heard it in years. I think it was more like 1991 or 1992, but either way it is a great song!

Anonymous said...

I TOTALLY agree on the Harry Connick Jr song. Plus, he's hot.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Oh it's never Christmas till Brenda Lee sings, "Rockin Around the X-mas tree".

IT's like the "It's a Wonderful life" of the radio.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

Aaaaah, Elvis!

I'm so glad you put Kirsty Macoll in there. It's such a lovely song. Even so, I find it hard to listen to her these days. Poor old Kirsty.

Scott said...

that brenda lee song is one of my favorites.

mylittlebecky said...

looooooooooooooooove the harry! now it's really almost christmas :)

carissajaded said...

I heart you for putting sufjan on the list. That double cd has made my holiday the last few years. Sighhhhhh

words...words...words... said...

I'll wait til all three Sundays before berating you for forgetting my favorites. But that Billy Squier tune is pretty awesome.

And I'm not taking your bait :p

J. Hi said...

Ha! Heard the Billy Squier song yesterday in the car and thought "This is one of the best Christmas songs ever." And now I now I am right. :)

Love that Pogues song too.

cube said...

I'd quibble with very few of your choices. Where's "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer"? ;-)

Perplexio said...

For Sleigh Ride, Chicago also did an exceptional job. And being a horn band, they made excellent use of their talents. Although from their Christmas album I prefer Bethlehem (an original tune written by former vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist, Bill Champlin) and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

O Holy Night is probably my favorite Christmas song. I've heard versions by everyone from Bing Crosby to Dream Theater, but my favorite version is by French-Canadian, Roch Voisine. I have both his French and English Christmas CDs. Both are thoroughly enjoyable.

As for Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree I couldn't agree more. As many times as those two songs have been covered, no one has ever topped the originals... Hall & Oates came close on Jingle Bell Rock and they get boku points for the really fun music video they did for it, but even they couldn't top the original.

Even though they didn't make your list.. I also dig the David Bowie/Bing Crosby Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy and Band Aid Do They Know It's Christmas.

red said...

Nice mix. That Pearl Jam song is sweet!

Beth said...

Excellent playlist -- though, if I'm going Andy Williams, I'm going with "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Mathdude said...

Dude. Andy Williams? RUFKM?

Andy Williams? Really?

And no Do They Know It's Christmas Time by Band Aid? That's just crazy talk, now.


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