Holiday Mixtape 2012

Posted: December 8, 2012 in Mixtape
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was going to rank my top 5 holiday songs and devote a post to each. I started with “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” But then I couldn’t ignore my other favorites. So here they are in no particular order:

Extreme :: Christmas Time Again
Gackt :: 12月のLove Song [ December Love Song ]
David Bowie & Bing Crosby :: Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth
B’z :: Itsuka no Merry Christmas
The Kinks :: Father Christmas
Cryptkeeper :: Revenge of the Cryptkeeper
NKOTB :: I Still Believe In Santa Claus
TVXQ :: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring/Magic Castle
Adam Sandler :: The Chanukah Song
Star Wars :: The Meaning of Christmas
—–


Extreme :: Christmas Time Again
Available on Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD

If anyone asks me what my all-time, #1 favorite Christmas song is, it would be this one. I first heard it in high school. At the time, the lyrics were eye-opening. “Christmas always go too fast, it’s up to us to make it last, and all I want for Christmas is love.” It’s been years but the message still hits with the same impact regardless of how many times I’ve heard it. “It’s Christmas time again, I’m happy for you. And though it comes and goes so let’s pretend that it’ll last all year.” Let the true spirit of the holidays- the warmth, the joy, the generosity, the love- continue throughout the year. I was also frankly mesmerized by all the harmonization, especially at the end. My all-time favorite traditional Christmas carol is “The First Noel” and they integrated it seamlessly. Sold.


Gackt :: 12月のLove Song [ December Love Song ] (Translation)
Available on CDJapan: Single

From the first soft jingle of sleigh bells, this song immediately evokes memories of the holidays. The strings come in, leading Gackt’s velvety voice. The lyrics are sweet, with a touch of melancholy. Watching the video shows much more depth in the words. Gackt filmed it New York directly after 9/11. I can only assume it was inspired by what he encountered there. Though at its core a love song, the video became something of a tribute, a message of healing. Either way, it’s a gorgeous piece of music I will forever play this time of year. “For remembrance, as a reminder.” (Quote from Anne Bishop’s book, Heir to Shadows)


David Bowie & Bing Crosby :: Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth
Available on Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD

Perhaps the oddest odd couple pairing ever, and it worked. Both songs are wonderfully rendered, even if Bing does have trouble with Bowie’s name in the narration. I have a thing for well-woven medleys. I loved it so much, I inflicted it on a co-worker during a drive through the middle of the desert in summer. He loved it too.  And we started singing it as we drove amidst the cacti. It was like Christmas in July.


B’z :: Itsuka no Merry Christmas (Translation)
Available on CDJapan: The Best Treasure (Compilation)

This was the first Japanese Christmas song I ever heard. At the time, I didn’t even know they had Christmas in Japan since most Japanese practice Shinto and/or Buddhism. Christmas in Japan is considered more of a romantic holiday. It’s a time for couples to cuddle with warm cups of tea or chocolate, to marvel at twinkly lights, and perhaps share a kiss with stars in each others’ eyes. I first heard it live, performed by Gackt and pop queen, Hamasaki Ayumi. I became enamored with it and had to track down the original which is, amazing. It was one of the first songs I learned to sing in Japanese.


The Kinks :: Father Christmas
Available on Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD

Reality check. “Father Christmas, give us your money, don’t mess around with those silly toys. We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over, give us some bread or you’ll make us annoyed. Give all the toys to the little rich boys.” My first thought was, “YES.” Because so many are in need, all the time, not just during the holidays. For them, forget the toys. They need food, shelter, funds. The first time I heard it was a Warrant cover. While the Down Boys did it justice, I have to give a nod to the original. Keeping it real, punk style.


The Cryptkeeper :: Revenge of the Cryptkeeper
Available on Amazon: CD

What can I say? I like things a bit off the beaten path. The album is full of hilarious gems but this one took the cake for me. It’s mostly in the way Cryptkeeper sings. He makes the insane act of kidnapping and tormenting Santa Claus sound freaking adorable. “Ho ho ho, won’t let him go, not for even tons of dough!” You just have to hear it.


NKOTB :: I Still Believe in Santa Claus
Available on Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD

Obviously a throwback to my pre-teen years, to days of NKOTB posters and sleeping bags. I think this was my favorite because Joey Mac starts it off. While I don’t believe in Santa anymore, I am still a child at heart. There are days when I want to go back to that time. Things were simpler then. The song also carries the same theme as several others on this list- to make the feeling of Christmas last beyond the actual season. Reality isn’t always a good place to be. Sometimes you need a bit of whimsy in life.


TVXQ :: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring/Magic Castle
Available on YesAsia: CD

First off, I love the a capella at the beginning of this video. “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” is a gorgeous piece of music. These guys did it more than justice. “Magic Castle” is a song I don’t understand at all. Mainly because I never bothered to look up the translation. I didn’t need to. Even without the usual sleigh bells and twinkly sounds that typically accompany a holiday song, something about it evokes the season. It exudes warmth, quiet joy, and hope. Just by listening, I can almost see the light in children’s eyes when they see presents under the tree, feel the love when surrounded by family. I almost don’t want to know what it’s about. The music is enough.


Adam Sandler :: The Chanukah Song
Available on Amazon: MP3 | Album | CD

Oh, KROQ. I was at work, during the holidays, when this song came on the overhead speakers. I nearly died laughing. It’s a list of famous “people who are Jewish” for the Jewish kids who feel left out of Christmas, delivered in typical Sandler style. I was still young at the time, and quite naïve. I didn’t know any Jewish people. I thought it was brilliant.


Star Wars :: The Meaning of Christmas
Available on Amazon: CD

Ah, the pièce de résistance of any holiday mix I make. First off, it’s Star Wars. And Christmas. What more could anyone ask for the holidays? I had this cassette as a child. It was one of my most treasured possessions. For a Star Wars fanatic, every song was amazing. My actual favorite tracks are “The Odds Against Christmas” and “What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas?” but this one is so epic, it typically appeals to more people. “Christmas is a time for joy, Christmas is a world of snow, Christmas is your own face, shining with that special glow.” Almost everyone can find something in this song that reminds them of holidays past. “Christmas is a time for peace and love.” It really is. Beyond the presents and the shopping and the stress, that is what this holiday is about. That’s why I love the songs that say it should “last all year.” I wish it could.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrate. And here’s to the spirit of the season not disappearing after New Year’s. Cheers.

xx

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