Just cause I don't want to be too negative and all:
Here is the playlist that I just created for a mix CD to be played at Matt's Christmas party. I think it's a pretty good mix of sacred Christmas music and . . . (what's the opposite? The Devil's Christmas music?) It's an attempt to find a good mix of classic tunes and not-overplayed versions, along with a few curveballs to keep things interesting. . . but not so odd to wreck the flow.
soundtrack: hit play, and then move on to. . .
1. Christmas Is All Around Bill Nighy as Billy Mack Love Actually OST. Always makes me smile.
2. Winter Wonderland - Phantom Planet (fun)
3. Greensleeves - Vince Guaraldi (Charlie Brown Christmas)
4. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - Jack Johnson yeah. That's what I said. Jack Johnson gets on my playlist.
5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - The Jackson 5 (overplayed, but pure joy. Sorry, Mel.)
6. Song For A Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan
7. Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming - Sufjan Stevens (I like his christmas stuff, quite a lot.)
8. Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis - Neko Case
9. At Last I'm Ready For Christmas - Stan Rogers
10. O Come All Ye Faithful - Nat King Cole
11. O Holy Night - Tracy Chapman (avoids the dreadful over-production and over-vocalisation Mariah Carey ad all the Popera stars bring to the poor song. -- This song is the Star Spangled Banner of Christmas songs: EVERY artist with pretensions of great vocal skill has tortured this song right up and down the scale.)
12. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
13. Jingle Bell Rock - Brian Setzer Orchestra (specially requested by Matt: at least it's not the Brenda Lee version, or 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree')
14. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
15. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
16. Silent Night - Stevie Nicks
17. The Little Drummer Boy - The Temptations (the song's overdone, and one of my least favourite Christmas songs, but bud, the Temptations really bring it.)
18. Joy To The World - Brian Wilson (beach boy harmonies. Nice.)
19. Silver Bells - Stevie Wonder (the Dean Martin version's overdone, and young Stevie Wonder's voice is so fresh and full of vitality)
20. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Frank Sinatra - beat out three or four other Sinatra songs for a spot on the mix (His First Noel and Baby It's Cold Outside is also great.)
21. The First Noel - Emmylou Harris (a capella and gorgeous. Beat out five or six other versions of the song, by heavyweights like Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra and the Temptations to get on. The best discovery I made while searching for Christmas music to put on the mix).
22. Christmas Song - Aimee Mann (the Rat Pack and Nat King Cole versions are too overplayed)
23. White Christmas - Otis Redding (see previous post for my opinion on Bing's version).
24. A Fairytale of New York (aka Christmas in the Drunk Tank) by The Pogues and Kristy MacColl. (Energetic, funny, and full of joy.)
25. Away In A Manger - Bright Eyes (Most versions of this one were pretty similar, so I chose the one that was out in left field to finish off the mix.)
That's seventy-four minutes of Christmas Goodness for you.
Christmas With The Rat Pack
Any "Best of Christmas with Ella Fitzgerald" collection.
A Motown Christmas - a bit overplayed, and no sacred songs on it (a serious handicap: the sacred songs are the most beautiful, by miles) but still great, because of the amazing performers.
because of song repeats, time constraints, too many songs by one artist, or other versions of the song being slightly better, I had to exclude these ones, but wish I didn't:
O Holy Night by Al Green
Baby It's Cold Outside by Tom Jones and Cerys (a singer from the band Catalonia)-- the funniest version of the song -wildly hilarious, in fact, but not as charming and sweet as Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Jordan, and didn't fit as well. Sinatra also had a good "Baby It's Cold Outside"
Jingle Bells or Christmas Song by Sammy Davis Jr.
At least something from Johnny Cash's Christmas album, and at least something from Aretha Franklin's Christmas recordings (her Joy to The World and O Christmas Tree almost made it, and Johnny's Blue Christmas was the last song I cut.
O Holy Night by Mariah Carey (overplayed, but sweet mercy, she can sing!)
something from Elvis (maybe O Little Town Of Bethlehem)
That Was The Worst Christmas Ever! - by Sufjan Stevens (and a handful more of his, including Holy Holy Holy and O Holy Night)
Christmas Day - Dido
Soon After Christmas - Stina Nordenstam - interesting, but too long and unfamiliar.
River - Joni Mitchell -- just didn't fit.
Winter Wonderland - Annie Lennox -- just didn't fit.
Let it Snow! - Ella Fitzgerald -- too much ella already.
Omission I don't regret:
Happy Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon and Yoko Ono. No regrets there. Too many na na na's and a cloying children's choir, along with the biggest guilt trip of any Christmas song.
If you download one song from this whole list, I recommend:
The First Noel - by Emmylou Harris