Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

In 2008, I compiled a quirky mix of holiday novelty tunes for my friends. While creating the CD cover for “Holiday Cheer,” I began fearing hipster condescension. I beat my friends to the punch by crossing out the R in Cheer and revising the title to “Holiday Cheese.” The cover featured a Christmas tree carved out of cheddar.

Since then, my annual mixes have been received with growing anticipation, so beginning this year, I share my selections on line.

To be “honored” as a Scott’s Holiday Cheese selection, a song must meet these arbitrary yet stringent criteria:

Devoid of meaningful content. Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, you have a huge range of ways to experience it deeply and spiritually. My mix is specifically for when you want to come up for air and get silly, shallow, and/or absurd.

Playful, not annoying. Dogs barking “Jingle Bells” fails to qualify because you can’t finish hearing it without wanting to strangle the producer. Ditto for carols conveyed via farts. Bonus points if the song contains actual musicianship.

Makes Renee wiggle. My wife, a life-long dancer and former tap teacher, cannot hold still when a good beat finds her. As I’m auditioning songs, if I look across the room and see Renee shakin’ what her momma gave her as she putts around the condo, that’s a plus.

Leaves me feeling good. The geniuses behind South Park and Monty Python have some scathingly funny holiday parodies. They don’t make the cut because they’re vicious. I usually use my own mix for background cheer while wrapping gifts. Since I’m usually behind schedule, music that Means No Harm is just the ticket for soothing me into a holiday with ease.

Does this add up to an amusing collection, or vapid, forgettable nonsense? You be the judge. Here, without further defense, is my list for this holiday season. I filtered the dregs so you won’t have to!

The Holiday Cheese Honorees for 2011

Medley: Hanukkah Swingin’ Holiday/Pour the Oil, Kenny Ellis. Solid big band swing, a great mood-setter and especially apt since I’m releasing my mix on the first day of Hanukkah.

Santa’s Lost His Mojo, Jeremy Lister. Honestly, Santa’s job description does sound tiring. Minor chords with a light blues/folk feel.

Matunda Ya Kwanzaa, Rockapella. Now that I work for a truly global corporation, Kwanzaa songs make their first appearance in the Cheese mix. The African backbeat makes this sound like a missing cut from The Lion King.

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts), Brave Combo. Nat King Cole’s classic tune gets revitalized when performed as ska. This cut was big in Japan. Seriously.

Santa Loves to Boogie, Asleep at the Wheel. Classic party-boogie westernized by George W. Bush’s favorite band (and even knowing that, you’ll probably like it).

Who Spiked the Eggnog?, Straight No Chaser. The epitome of a Holiday Cheese selection: silly, yet meticulously performed by this pitch-perfect a capella group.

Funk the Halls, Paul James. This infectious instrumental proves there just are not enough funky holiday tunes.

7 Days of Kwanzaa Song, Urban Village. This rap helps remove some of the “white” from your White Christmas. Barely scraped into the collection, since it nearly fails on Criterion # 1, “Devoid of meaningful content.”

Joy to the World, Jimmy Calire Piano Trio. Sprightly jazz instrumental of the Christmas classic.

Merry Christmas Allah, Bob Rivers. This startlingly accurate reproduction of The Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas Baby” calls for religious unity. I think.

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah, Kenny Ellis. This good-hearted Jewish take on “The Night Before Christmas” reveals that Santa wears a red yarmulke; plus, it’ll also serve as your best Yiddish lesson of 2011.

We Three Kings, The Reverend Horton Heat. The classic Christmas hymn performed as a surf-guitar instrumental.

Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses. I have heard this vaguely 80s-ish song in the mix on pop radio stations each year but never paid attention to it until now. Well, no wonder it sounds 80s: it was recorded in 1981. Look up the lyrics and you’ll discover that its modern POV delivers a surprisingly nuanced rom-com story. After 30 years, well on its way to being a Christmas classic.

The Chanukah Song, Neil Diamond. In past years I’ve intentionally excluded Adam Sandler’s ode to “eight crazy nights” because it is well known enough to be a cliché. But c’mon, having it covered by Neil Diamond, a Jewish artist who once put out a mawkish Christmas album, makes this a conceptual twofer.

Drummer Boy (featuring Busta Rhymes), Justin Bieber. Where do I start? It’s funny enough having a Christmas song-cum-rap by Tween Heartthrob du Juor Bieber. But the absurdity goes to 11 when he self-righteously admonishes us for not giving enough to charity. Yessir, Saint Justin; I’m a Belieber!

All That I Want, The Weepies. Ending on a reflective note with a folk-tinged original that scored full points on Criterion # 4, “Leaves me feeling good.”

Download and enjoy!

If you’ve read this far, I conclude with a special offer: subscribe to my blog using the Email Subscription button in the upper right (I will never ever sell, loan, or redistribute your email address). In exchange, I’ll reply with how you can get all these songs at a deep discount. Here’s wishing you a joyous ChrismaHannuKwanzaakuh!