Tuesday, 19 December 2006

The moon is right, the spirit's up...

Ah, Christmas music.... I'm sure I'm not the only one with an utter hatred for the inescapable 'classics'. Everyone knows my hatred for Slade, right? Good to see that this year there are some new genuine alternatives, whether they be fresh takes on old chestnuts or wildly inventive contemporary offerings. However, there needs to be a serious sea-change if we're ever to be freed from the kind of nonsense that keeps Jona Lewie or that guy out of Wizzard in royalties cheques.

Ol' sourpuss Tom McRae has his own way of dealing with the chirpyness of one such heinous musical crime, as his gorgeous re-telling of Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime shows. Knowingly or not, McCartney's horrific original evoked nauseating scenes of the happy-clappy Christmas from hell; McRae's version sounds like it's sung by someone whose idea of a wonderful Christmastime is sitting alone by a fireside with nothing but a glass of brandy for company. Chuck out Macca's terrible synths, bring in a mournful piano, and here's a version of the song that can rightly be regarded as a genuine festive classic.

MP3: Tom McRae - Wonderful Christmastime

Tim Finn, on the other hand, plays his festive cover - the equally loathsome Lennon/Ono standard Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - with reverence to the original, and it's a great success largely due to... well, largely because it's Tim Finn.

MP3: Tim Finn - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Does anyone actually know anything about Freiheit other than their classic late 80s Christmas hit? I have a vague feeling they represented Germany in an early 90s Eurovision Song Contest - not that I used to watch it or anything... ahem, but aside from that....? Join with me in keeping the dream alive for those wonderful one-hit wonders!

MP3: Freiheit - Keeping The Dream Alive

And finally for this festive selection, possibly my favourite Christmas tune. Mike Viola, of Candy Butchers fame, is no stranger to my stereo generally, with what can only be described as a seriously above-average back catalogue of amazing guitar pop, most notably 2004's Hang On Mike. A few years ago the Candy Butchers released a Christmas EP, from which Give Me A Second Chance For Christmas is taken. Long since deleted, copies are occasionally available from his website. If the lead track isn't enough for you, the EP also contains covers of Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You and the Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way. Yes, really.

MP3: Candy Butchers - Give Me A Second Chance For Christmas

And finally, to continue with my recent musings on learning piano, a quick update - I've conquered the arrangement of Good King Wenceslas we looked at in the last lesson of this term. Thus, Christmas will be spent going over the stuff so far, along with the previously mentioned extra-curricular Sufjan and Regina tunes. I'm even going to have a crack at trying to figure this out - a gorgeous (and manageably short) instrumental from Neil Finn's soundtrack to the 2001 NZ movie Rain:

MP3: Neil Finn - Shower

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Merry Xmas!
Thank you for recommending the great songs. ;)