Friday, December 22, 2006

Songs 250 to 275

Hi, remember me? I used to write about music. Much has happened between August and December--some good, some bad. But, right now, I'm just going to jump right in and hit it with my holiday mix of tunes. I spent many an hour (okay, about an hour) finding this assortment on iTunes, so here is the result of my incredible labor in Santa's mines (where I saw neither Leo nor Djimon). This whole list is available on iTunes as an iMix, "Malagueta's Holiday Mix."

Song 250: The Raveonettes, "The Christmas Song." I know, I already reviewed a Raveonettes song this year. This sounds a lot like that one. Probably everyone only needs one Raveonettes song . . . ever. Their sound is on that fine line between novel and novelty. Christmas for the disaffected Claire's Boutique set.

Song 251: Jane Monheit & Steve Tyrell, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." My husband thinks the song itself is worn out. I like it. This is a passable, new version. Apparently, Steve Tyrell has pulled a Freaky Friday with Dr. John. Also, remember when Jane Monheit was supposed to be the next big thing? I'll bet she's wishing Diana Krall never figured out that singing and playing the piano was possible--as is the former Mrs. McManus.

Song 252: Vanessa Williams, "What Child Is This?" Okay, this is totally one of my absolute favorite Christmas songs by the unstoppable Vanessa Williams. Is there anything she can't do? The song is Blue Note cool with her rich tones adding a sultry edge to the nativity (maybe Catherine Hardwicke should have cast her; she could have pulled it off, I swear).

Song 253: Smashing Pumpkins, "Christmastime." Ah, Billy Corgan. It is likely never a good sign when an adult man has a child's name. Still, back in the day, he was it, wasn't he? This is the very essence of SP with "Christmastime" thrown in where a noun is needed. You can just see little bald Billy sitting below the tree cutting himself with broken bulbs. Ho-ho-ho.

Song 254: The Weepies, "All That I Want." If writing this blog has done nothing else for me, it's turned me into a complete Weepies-head. I just love them. This is another super atmospheric piece--just the right combo of whimsy, nostalgia, and hopefulness. You go, Weepies!

Song 255: Sufjan Stevens, "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!." What can anyone say about Sufjan Stevens at this point? He is a universe onto himself. Can you imagine what would happen if Beck and Mr. Stevens formed a supergroup? The Scientologist laying down with the Lamb? Would this be another sign of the Metalocalypse? The line about the sister cutting her bangs is priceless--though the song could be a bit shorter and still be Christmas-riffic.

Song 256: Brave Combo, "Must Be Santa (Polka)." This, dear readers, is the official, hands-down, children's favorite holiday song in my home. It's good for dancing, for singing, and for overall merriment. Do not deny yourself the joy that this song can bring! Seriously, go buy it now. (My son just this moment walked in and said, "We love this song!" Operators are standing by.)

Song 257: NRBQ, "Christmas Wish." The perfect follow-up. I can hear my daughter singing along right now (literally, in the living room). It's a beautiful song with a lovely message and a great singing in the car song.

Song 258: Stevie Wonder, "What Christmas Means to Me." You know it from any number of commercials that play while you dance around the living room suddenly captured with a desire to spend. What I love about the Motown sound is that you can actually hear each layer of a song, almost like it was a pile of Colorforms that could be taken apart and remixed in any way. This would be a cool game.

Song 259: James Brown, "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto." I can almost hear Santa saying, "Yes, sir, Mr. Brown." I actually heard this song on Tom Joyner a couple days back, and it made me dance in the car with joy. I will tell all that "James Brown sent [me]."

Song 260: Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "Christmas." A classic fill in the blanks Blues number. Could be about Christmas, could be about the Sony Wii, could be about pastrami: does it really matter? This song made me realize one thing: for Christmas, I want a "name."

Song 261: Ella Fitzgerald, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" How can a holiday mix not include this song? And, can you find a better version? Lush as Christmas cashmere; sad as that last five minutes before the stores close on the 24th. Sit back and savor.

Song 262: Tony Bennett, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Mr. Bennett is the world's gift for Christmas: utterly hopeful, amazingly self-aware. My husband now does a mean Tony Bennett impression that slays me every time. So sweet.

Song 263: Bjork, "Frosti." I find this song achingly beautiful, a music box of crystalline perfection. Bjork--the posthuman Tony Bennett.

Song 264: Mariah Carey, "All I Want for Christmas Is You." I know, "Mariah?!" But, this song is such a crowd pleaser. Ms. Carey is the posthuman Liza--which is probably not good for any of us. Still, it's an entertaining Polar Express-wreck.

Song 265: June Christy, "The Merriest." When I was a little girl, my father adored June Christy, the alterna-Julie London. Ms. Christy never got a role on Emergency, but she did earn a place on my holiday mix with this wonderfully tinny number.

Song 266: Billy May, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo." I'm not thinking about what this means, but this song is one of my son's favorite holiday numbers. Oh, and he wants to marry Jack Sparrow and have a pirate baby. Whatever. The kid's got great taste!

Song 267: Danny Elfman, "What's This?" The pacing of the song and the lyrics combine to form one of the most perfect evocations of a child's Christmas morning that I've ever heard: racing from shiny thing to shinier thing with a combustible combination of glee and gluttony. Ah, the meaning of the season in full effect! (He has a special Christmas wish on his website, too.)

Song 268: Elvis Presley, "Winter Wonderland." You can almost hear the pill bottles falling like little prescription snowflakes as the wonder of winter numbs Mr. Presley. Just one more take, E, for the kids, with a big finish. ("Oh, I love this song. I heard this song at school, and I love it!" my daughter just screamed while painting--I kid you not--a Jack Sparrow gun for my son.)

Song 269: Guster, "Donde Esta Santa Claus?" A great new Christmas classic. My children have been taking Spanish this fall, which has resulted in them learning that "chocolate" in Spanish is "chocolat-A." Ah, money well spent. Plus, the song has "mamacita" in it, which brings me great joy for some reason.

Song 270: Chris Isaak, "Mele Kalikimaka." Following on 269 above, you have now entered the multicultural section of my holiday mix. And, who says international diversity more than Chris Isaak? Oh, wait.

Song 271: Sufjan Stevens, "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserve It)." Proof positive that Mr. Stevens isn't all light and love. And, a great song to boot! Plus, given that his holiday album is the Berlin Alexanderpatz of the season, it deserves two cuts on my mix.

Song 272: Hem, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Second time for this song on the mix, but a different, very stripped down version. Emo-sad with not quite enough strength to decapitate the snow people.

Song 273: Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Skating." A classic. But, have you watched any of those Charlie Brown specials lately? They are really awful.

Song 274: Bette Midler, "Cool Yule." Admitted, no one beats Louis Armstrong at this song, but I already owned that version. Ms. Midler does a fine job with modern production that adds a technological gleam to the already glitzy tune. Jump and jive, y'all.

Song 275: Aimee Mann, "The Christmas Song." Again, no one will win the cage match with Nat King Cole. But, Ms. Mann adds a note of regret to this that Mr. Cole's slick veneer of perfection would never allow. And, with this, I wish you a very merry holiday season!

90 to go.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I realize I'm commenting eons after you wrote this, but I'm enjoying the concept, the suggestions, and the witty commentary ("the diaffected Claire's Boutique set" is a new favorite). I also appreciate the inspiration for a fellow mamasita to start seeking out new music. This was a great goal you set for yourself. Thanks for the push.