Friday, December 5, 2014

Five Fandom Friday: My Favorite Holiday Songs

I am neutral about Christmas. I don't particularly mind decorations and things going up in November (or even October) and I don't get crabby over people wishing me a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays or whatever. But I am also not Buddy the Elf.

As someone with Resting Bitch Face, I can assure you: smiling is NOT my favorite.

What I like about every holiday around the end of the year is the universal theme of light and, consequently, fellowship: sure, it's the coldest, darkest time of the year (in temperate, Northern Hemisphere climates, anyway), but the light's going to come back and things are going to get better! Let's remember to be nice to each other while it's dark and freezing out!

 And while daylight was never something I really thought about when I lived in the States, it's something I notice a lot more now in Stockholm. The shortest day at my latitude in the US is about 9 hours long. Here it's 6. (And, since dawn and dusk are still middling light, it feels much more like 4 or 5 hours.) So the holidays are, for me, something darker, serious, more subdued.

That said, I have somewhat schizophrenic taste in Christmas music. I like both the really somber, dramatic traditional carols, but as far as popular holiday music goes, my tastes run a little more cheerful (at least in terms of sound). I also appreciate the recent hits that pair pretty sardonic lyrics with an otherwise chipper tune:

1. Father Christmas (The Kinks)

I grew up listening to the oldies station (which is now another generic "classic rock" station with nothing predating 1967 or so, sigh). There were a load of holiday songs that would get 24/7 rotation, but there are only a couple I still like today:

2. Snoopy's Christmas (The Royal Guardsmen)

3. Silver Bells (too many damn artists to count)

4. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (The Jackson 5)

I hate, hate, hate Santa Claus is Comin' to Town but the Jackson 5 version is too damn catchy. Even if the lyrics remain creepy as hell. Dat Motown.

5. Carol of the Bells/Shchedryk (Mykola Leontovych)

I love just about any version of this song (shout-out to Christmas Eve Sarejevo 12/24 from Trans-Siberian Orchestra), but I thought I'd present a lower-key a cappella arrangement, as the song was originally written for vocal performance.

The opening bars are from a pre-Christian chant for the new year (celebrated in April in Ukraine, way back in the day) but the rest is an adaptation Leontovych wrote as a homework assignment. Dang.

What are your favorite holiday songs?


  1. The Jackson 5 did a great job on that song! :D

    1. It's the only version of the song I can tolerate! We had some kind of Disney Christmas sing-a-long video when I was kid, and I find it had to communicate the sheer loathing and distaste that crept into my 5-year-old heart when the video invariably got to that song, hahah.