Friday, December 18, 2009

Classic Christmas Music: The Top 10

The classic Christmas songs we've come to love have been recorded by many artists through the years, such that I think it's easier just to pick the songs and not any particular artists, just to avoid any unnecessary argument. Picking 10 songs is hard enough, but we'll try to get through this.

10. Feliz Navidad. The title, of course, is Spanish for "Merry Christmas", and the best known recording of this bi-lingual carol was done all the way back around 1970 by Jose Feliciano. In fact, aside from a cover of the Doors' "Light My Fire" and the theme to Chico & the Man, "Feliz" is Feliciano's signature song!

9. Christmas Time is Here. Composer Vince Guaraldi wrote this song for A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965, and it has become as much an iconic Yuletide piece as the special itself. One of the most recent covers was by the Christian group MercyMe just a couple of years ago.

8. Silent Night. Martin Luther, the author of the Refomation, also penned this carol, which has been recorded by just about everyone, it seems.

7. Wonderful Christmas Time. Paul McCartney wrote this sometime in the 70's. Full of good cheer, a diametric opposite of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)", if you will.

6. Do They Know it's Christmas?. You all know this one, I'm sure. Recorded initially by the all-star vocal group Band Aid in 1984, it was written by Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats) to call attention to the starvation in Africa and other countries. The first of the Live Aid concerts followed 7 months later.

5. Joy to the World. Not to be confused with Three Dog Night's non-Christmas hit of the same name. This instead celebrates the birth of Jesus.

4. Oh Holy Night. Another carol that has been recorded by just about everyone over the years, but one of the best renditions I've heard was actually in an episode of Benson several years back, sung by series star Robert Guillaume.

3. Little Drummer Boy. For most of us, there are two versions that stand out. One is the classic choral version recorded by the Harry Simeon Chorale around 1958 that led to Rankin-Bass adapting the song into an animagic television special 10 years later. The other is part of a duet medley with "Peace on Earth" recorded by Bing Crosby & David Bowie for Bing's last TV special in 1977. Powerful stuff.

2. Jingle Bells. Yes, the lyrics have been parodied by children over the years, poking fun at Batman & Robin, but this is really about having fun at Christmas, though the sleds used now are self-propelled toboggans or snowboards.

1. Do You Hear What I Hear?. I have heard many interpretations over the years, from Bing Crosby to Whitney Houston. The message remains the same, another variation on the Birth of Jesus.

Discuss & debate, pilgrims.

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