Whether you're Team "stake of holly through his heart" or Team "let your heart be light," there’s no denying that music is a big part of the holiday season ("The holiday season - so hoop-de-doo, and dickory-dock, and don't forget to hang up your sock").
Every year, it seems "new" Christmas music consists of versions of songs we already know, including repackaged, re-mastered versions of old standbys like The Vince Guaraldi Trio's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" soundtrack and Nat King Cole's Christmas album.
Some of this year's selections include Lady Gaga's version of "White Christmas," Scarlett Johansson's "duet" with Dean Martin (talk about Ghosts of Christmas Past!) on "I'll Be Home for Christmas," and Justin Bieber's video for "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," in which the Biebs is given the Rankin-Bass treatment - he's animated in scenes with characters from the television special of the same name.
Playlists come and go, but when it comes to holiday tunes, it seems there are some songs - and even entire albums - that we must hear, or it just isn't 'Tis the Season.
For some it's The Carpenters' "Christmas Portrait" album, for others it's Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" album in its entirety, perhaps Mariah Carey's album "Merry Christmas" or the soundtrack to "Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas."
Here's my proverbial playlist of classic songs that never fails to get me hauling out the holly:
- "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love: One of the best things about the holiday season. So say David Letterman, so say I. That song never fails to blow the roof off the dump.
- "Linus and Lucy" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio: Actually it's a toss-up: The whole album is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
- "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole: The first three notes have me melting like Frosty in the greenhouse.
- "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams: Like Nat King Cole, Williams will always be a holiday mainstay for me.
- "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee: Makes me wanna dance like the Charlie Brown kids!
- "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses: Who would have thought a New Wave song begrudgingly recorded at the behest of a record label would help make this the most wonderful time of the year.
- "A Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues: Rather than being relegated to December like most Christmas carols, you can listen to it year-round. Walk into any Irish pub any night of the year and you'll likely hear it at some point in the evening.
- "Christmas is All Around" by Billy Mack: Maybe it's because "Love Actually" is one of my favorite movies, but this parody of The Troggs' "Love is All Around" by a fictional, has-been rocker always puts a smile on my face.
- "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney: I'm including this one because writer Mike Kiss recently said online: "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of the deaf, the one-eared man will burn off his ear rather than listen to Paul McCartney's 'Wonderful Christmastime.'" But he wasn't done there: "I feel the kind of joy a young child would feel as he opens his first birthday gift and finds the pliers and pine cones he intends to use to torture Paul McCartney for recording 'Wonderful Christmastime.'" Oh, and then: "I wish I'd gone into cosmology and physics like I'd planned! So I could dream of ways to space-drown, space-exile, space-quarantine, and annihilate Paul McCartney's 'Wonderful Christmastime'."
What are your "go to" holiday songs or albums - and why? Conversely, which tunes make you cringe, a la Mike and "Wonderful Christmastime"? Also, feel free to mock my selections mercilessly. I can take it.