I had a hard time getting into my Christmas Groove this year, for all kinds of reasons. Music always helps me, and I wanted to take my son to the local “Carols by Starlight” – but we somehow missed it.. But I finally got out the boxes with the Christmas Stuff and that’s traditionally when I will start listening to Christmas music at home.
It doesn’t have to be the same carols all the time, they’re all on in the supermarkets, and although I have classics on my list, I thought it was fun to share what brings us joy this Christmas. I am blessed with the original add-free spotify, which is great for some ‘try before you buy’ or these more seasonal musical ‘dishes’. The spotify logo shows which albums are available via the site, the pictures of the album covers are links to Amazon for more info on artists, songs and, most times, samples. Have a listen!
The all-rounder :
This is really the ultimate collection, as it includes classic compositions interpreted by world class symphonic orchestras as much as (of course) Bing Crosby, Isaac Hayes, James Brown and the Jackson 5 Slade, Brian Adams, Gabrielle and Abba to Boys 2 Men, Ronan Keating, Hanson and Blink-182.. all in one 3 CD box set! (They could have come up with a better cover..) The list of singers/bands is long, it really covers a lot of different genres and times. (the picture links to amazon.de because they have a better listing of all the artists with samples)
The diva :
In the 80s a bit of an Eurythmics fan, I think Annie Lennox has done a few great solo-albums, but i was not so sure about this one. While “oh god (a prayer)” and “you are a shining light” were already a bit ‘gospel’ for me, her newest album “A Christmas Cornucopia” comes with a kinda odd cover. But at 55, she still pulls it off, and, recorded mostly traditional Christmas Songs in South Africa with an orchestra and backed by the African Children’s Choir. (The French Traditional “Il est né le divin enfant” gets a great twist with that chorus.) The proceeds from the original composition Universal Child will go entirely to the Annie Lennox Foundation, which funds HIV/AIDS prevention and education projects in Africa. A good deed for Christmas, Annie!
The princess :
At the other end of the vocal register, 16 years after her first Christmas album this little Miss with the big Voice brings out another, “Merry Christmas II You” by Mariah Carey. Among with more classic tunes in her own style or traditionally interpreted, it features a re-recording of her mega Christmas Hit “All I want for Xmas is YOU” AND as a bonus, her opera singer mum singing with her, on the track “O Come All Ye Faithful/Hallelujah”. I’m not a big fan of Ms Carey’s musical choices, but I she is a fabulous vocalist and has been around longer than we all would have thought, hasn’t she (yes, she is 40!).
And check this out : she is still fitting in that same Santa-catsuit!
Klezmer for Christmas !?
Yes.. odd. But why shouldn’t they ? I love instrumental, jazzy Klezmer music, it’s wonderfully melancholic and joyful, all in one. This album by the Klezmonauts – “Oy to the World” has some great songs and the Yiddish lyrics to “JingleBells”are incredibly cute!
“Santa Gey Gezunderheit”(Santa Go in Good Health) is a quite funny song about the hard job of Santa…and our ungrateful behaviour. This is in English with only a few Yiddish words. Totally worth checking out if you have spotify!
Los Hombres :
My mother sent me a similar CD a few years ago as a gift for St Nicolaus. Only the case was empty! She had been listening to it and forgot to put it back in the case. I ended up getting it a few days after Christmas, and I still quite love it this style.
These are the guys of the 2 families that formed the “Gipsy Kings” minus the singer Chico, but it still has some of the hot & husky Spanish ‘Shouting’ like those songs that went around the world, others more quiet, but always very rhythmic and with great acoustic guitar. Lovin’ it.
The World !
World Music too rarely ever gets played out of niche radios or at festivals and that’s a shame. Themed collections are a good entry to discover something really different. On this CD, some very upbeat versions of known Christmas Songs with very unusual acoustic instruments and voices hailing from Africa, the Caribbean, SouthAmerica and elsewhere. I will try to get this, the samples are really interesting. I do have Putumayo World Christmas Party 2010, which is more World Jazz i think, but also really good. Check it out on Amazon!
The Man :
There is simply no excuse for not having at least one of the hundreds of Christmas compilations of Mr White Christmas himself at home. They sell for 2 bucks in supermarkets every year! I have mine, actually it’s a double CD with some female singers of his time but I can’t find it this year (shame on me). Fortunately, it’s all on spotify. Rudolph, Frosty and the little Drummer Boy were not part of my culture’s Christmas, so I learnt about them first with good ol’ Bing. A classic.
The Hardcore (My personal childhood memories) :
This is a collection of mostly unreligious, but very cute German Christmas songs (more about the lights, the decorations, the baking, all the secrecy.. ) as it was recorded in East Germany (sometimes in the 70s) with different Boy, Girl or Children Choirs of world class. “Bald nun ist Weihnachtszeit” can be a tad shrill for some songs so it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but this was by far the best thing my Oma (Nana) could have given us kids growing up in the West, it’s my ultimate Christmas memory soundtrack and I am really happy to still have my own copy.
For connoisseurs only 🙂
Here a link to recommended Christmas ROCK CDs with short reviews, you would also find Reggae Christmas, Ska, Punk and maybe even Death Metal Christmas, what ever rocks your boat Christmas tree, I guess..
Another link for another listing of the best and the worst albums for the season. Because there is also the Glee Christmas album, Susan Boyle‘s well, “Gift”, and oh, Jessica Simpson also has a second Christmas Album out this year (I did not know about the first either). But I really couldn’t sample no more.
Up to you to discover something and hopefully share.
What’s your Christmas Groove this year ?