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Entries categorized as “Christmas Top 25” 25 results

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs: #1 - Harvey Danger, “Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas (Sometimes)”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots of Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #1, the best Christmas song of the last 25 years, by Harvey Danger.

 



#1: Harvey Danger, "Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas (Sometimes)" (1998)

If you're reading this on Christmas, you're probably gathered around a tree somewhere. Maybe there's snow on the ground, and the scent of fresh cinnamon rolls cooling on the kitchen counter. You've probably opened presents and shredded a bale's-worth of wrapping paper and settled into the afterglow that only comes on holiday mornings when all the stores are closed.

Maybe you're at work, manning a ticket counter at a ramshackle movie theatre, or grabbing the holiday shift at the all-night convenience store out by the highway, or sewing up someone who took a drunken Christmas Eve header through an apartment window. If you're doing that last one, probably stop reading.

Maybe you don't have much to celebrate this year, or maybe you list count of the blessings accrued during another spin around the sun. Maybe you don't celebrate Christmas at all. Maybe you just like Harvey Danger, or independent radio, or me. I don't know. 

(Maybe you're reading months in the future, killing time on some future April morning because it's raining and you didn't want to take your lunch break outside. Again, hard to say.)

Whenever you see this, though: I know the world seems pretty fucked sometimes, and that answers are hard to come by. I know that the holidays are usually more stressful than they're worth, and that a part of you would rather just not bother. My hope for all of you, wherever and whenever you're reading this, is that you find something in your lives that tips the balance in favor of the festive. Whether it's a song or a person or a particularly delicious butter cookie, I hope we can all find something to leave us at 51% happy come Christmas next year.

Thank you for reading, and I'll see you in 2015.

P.S. - Listen to the Long Winters' version of this song, too. It's mad good.

Share December 25, 2014 http://chrp.at/1uWg Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Christmas Top 25

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs: #2 - The Ramones, “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots of Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #2, and a bittersweet holiday refrain from the Ramones.

 



#2: The Ramones, "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" (1989)

The Ramones don't feel like a band that should have a Christmas song. Even though they were always on the sentimental side of the punk catalogue, such a naked display of gee-whiz cheeriness just didn't jibe. However, it's hard to argue that "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" isn't one of the band's best latter-day singles, and one of the best Christmas tunes of its era. Released on 1989's Brain Drain, the song captures a plea for smooth relations made during the time of year when the combination of stress and mulled wine makes that almost impossible. It's a message that works perfectly on its own, but gains a deeper level of bittersweetness when considered alongside the band's own struggles. By 1989, the Ramones were falling apart. The band's relationship with Sire Records has soured (Brain Drain would be their last album for the label) and, after years of tension, founding bassist Dee Dee Ramone had one foot out the door. The band that was once so close that members pretended to be brothers was limping into its third decade desperate to recapture the magic. Just as it's hard to dismiss the power of "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)", it's also hard not to hear it as a manifestation of the band's own turmoil. In 2014, we know how the story ends, but for those two minutes, they might be able to convince us otherwise.

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Categorized: Christmas Top 25

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs of the Last 25 Years: #3 - The Cast of SNL, “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots or Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #3, and an infectious piece of Christmas cheer from the cast of Saturday Night Live.

 



#3: The Cast of Saturday Night Live, "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" (2000)

It began on Saturday Night Live. On a snowy night in December 2000, NBC viewers tuning in to their favorite sketch comedy program were treated instead to a sonic slab of concentrated holiday cheer. Performed by Horatio Sanz and his backing band (which included a visibly nervous Jimmy Fallon and Tracy Morgan busting out his most minimal of dance moves), the song extolled the virtues of Christmas. The same can be said of many songs. However, this one was different. The lyrics were single-minded in their pursuit of merriment, and the players, realizing this, seemed to struggle to contain it. They'd tapped into a wild, untamed version of holiday festivity, and knew they were no match.

For the next few Christmases, the song returned. Each year, around December, it would flare up in a fit of cheer, only to disappear back into the wintery ether. After 2004, it didn't return, and we thought we were safe. We thought we were cured. However, songs this infectious find a way of returning. In 2009, while researching covers during the recording sessions for his new album, Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas was exposed to the song. It fused with his own musical sensibilities, mutating into an even catchier arrangement. When the song once again appeared on a 2011 edition of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, it was more powerful than ever.


The video above reveals the frightening realities of this fearsome song, which quickly overcame even the powerful defenses of the Roots. The song would soon spread to the rest of the audience, lodging itself in each head and colonizing each brain with its relentless Christmastime joy. Today, no one among us can remember a day when the song wasn't here, wasn't gleefully blasting from the radios of winter. We do remember the brave sacrifice of the comedians who fought, and failed to contain it, even as we each hum along.

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Categorized: Christmas Top 25

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs: #4 - Of Montreal, “My Favorite Christmas (In A Hundred Words or Less)”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots or Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #4, and Of Montreal's guide to a twee Christmas.

 



#4: Of Montreal, "My Favorite Christmas (In A Hundred Words or Less)" (1997)

When Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes more or less disowned his band's early work in a 2011 interview with Pitchfork's Larry Fitzmaurice, I was majorly bummed. For me, albums like Cherry Peel and The Gay Parade were pinnacles of the '90s psych revival, not, as Barnes described them, "naive and sweet and not all that competent." However, I can get over disses on my favorite albums. What really upset me about Barnes' stance was how it helped push one of the best Christmas songs (and compilations) of the '90s even deeper into obscurity.

"My Favorite Christmas (In A Hundred Words or Less)" came out in 1997 on Christmas In Stereo, the first holiday compilation by Kindercore Records. Before compilations like The O.C. soundtrack and the Maybe This Christmas series brought Christmas music into the 2000s indie mainstream, the folks on Kindercore were turning out terrific original holiday compositions that hardly anyone was hearing. These weren't just no-name bands, either; Kindercore was the second home of Elephant 6 acts like Dressy Bessy, the Essex Green, and the Olivia Tremor Control, as well as then-emerging groups like Kings of Convenience and I Am the World Trade Center. Released just before the Napster revolution and now out of print, Christmas In Stereo and its sequel, Christmas Two, have always lurked at the edges of availability. However, they remain two of the strongest full-length efforts of new holiday music released in the last two decades. 

Of all of the bands on those two albums, Of Montreal now has the highest profile. They're also the only act to appear twice, each time turning in the best track. "My Favorite Christmas (In A Hundred Words or Less)" is especially fantastic, reading like a manual for twee holiday celebrations everywhere. It would've been great a fantastic addition to the Elephant 6 Holiday tours from a few years back, but Barnes' busy touring schedule (and reluctance to look backward) prevented his group from taking part. Maybe one day, the the Ghost of Christmas Past will take a break from tormenting Scrooge and show Barnes the error of his ways. Until then, we'll just listen from here.

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Categorized: Christmas Top 25

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs of the Last 25 Years: #5 - Badly Drawn Boy, “Donna and Blitzen”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots or Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #5, and a completely unironic Christmas love song from Badly Drawn Boy.
 



#5: Badly Drawn Boy, "Donna and Blitzen" (2002)

Although it's not generally included in the holiday movie pantheon, About A Boy has sneakily become one of my favorite Christmas movies of the last few decades. Part of that might come from its treatment of the holiday music industry; as Will Freeman, Hugh Grant spends the movie repulsed by (and beholden to) a Christmas song, written by his father, whose assured annual ascendence up the charts keeps him flsuh with royalties and devoid of his own artistic expression. That grim little layer of context makes it hard to listen to tracks like "Winter Wonderland" or "Sleigh RIde" and not imagine the Wills they might've created.

For a movie critical of holiday music, though, About A Boy pulled no punches when it came to its own contribution to the songbook. Written by Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy), "Donna and Blitzen" skips the jadedness of the movie's early acts and goes right for the emotional fragility. It's a lovely, sentimental piano ballad that, in a different world, could've been a sunnier companion piece to "Fairytale of New York." If Gough earns any royalties from this one this year, I hope he buys himself something nice.

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Categorized: Christmas Top 25

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