Happy New Year.
Let’s celebrate with some music. I considered a video of Auld Lang Syne, but couldn’t find really good video, so instead I’ll present a music video by a Swedish group who is one of the few winners of the Eurovision Song Contest that lots of people have heard of.
Since like the holiday season is heading into full swing, Christmas music has been playing all the time. This got me thinking about what I think are the best Christmas songs, considering both the song and the performer together. If it helps, think of it as spending Christmas on a desert island, where you can only take 10–15 songs with you. I rank my top 5 and list the remainders at the end. This list is purely objective, and in essence boils down to a “list of Christmas songs I like better than others”. And it really does give a bit of a deep look into the kind/style of music I like.
- #5 “It Snowed” – Meaghan Smith
I really like the saxophone hook.
- #4 “Santa Will Find You” – Mindy Smith
The only non–Canadian in the top 5.
- #3 “Mittens” – Carly Rae Jepsen
Someone who is perhaps the most successful loser in Canadian history is the newest entry on this list, displacing my favourite singer and one of her best friends. This song is actually several years old, but only started getting airplay once Carly hit the jackpot south of the border.
- #2 “Light of the Stable” – Tara MacLean
It took me quite a while to find out who was singing this. I’m glad I found out.
- #1 “The Gift” – Aselin Debison
Longtime readers here knew this one was coming.
Some more thoughts on my top 5: There is no particular pattern regarding religious and secular Christmas songs. I consider “Light of Stable” and “The Gift” to be religious, and “Santa Will Find You”, “Mittens”, and “It Snowed” to be secular. All but one of these songs are sung by Canadian women. Americans (and other foreigners), you just don’t know what you’re missing when you don’t hear my country’s great music. I have not necessarily heard or not heard any other version of the songs I listed. “Mittens” and “It Snowed” are too new to have cover versions. I have no idea about “Santa Will Find You”. I’ve never heard any alternative version of “Light of the Stable” but since it was written in the 1960s they certainly exist. I’ve only heard one other version of “The Gift”, and it is an atrocious version sung by some man, I don’t know (and don’t want to know) who.
The honourable mentions that didn’t make the top 5 (unranked):
- “O Holy Night”† – Avril Lavigne f. Chantal Kreviazuk
- “Children Go Where I Send Thee”† – Natalie Merchant*
- “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / Gloria in Excelsis Deo”† – Mariah Carey*
- “Cold December Night” – Michael Bublé
- “That’s What Christmas Means” – Amy Sky
- “All I Want for Christmas Is You” – Mariah Carey*
- “Make It Christmas Day”† – Jann Arden
- “Song for a Winter’s Night” – Sarah McLachlan
- “Your Love (Christmas version)” – Michelle Wright*
- “Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord”† – Boney M.*
Songs with the † symbol are religious, and artists with the * are not Canadian.
My readers, what Christmas songs do you like best? Feel free to share.
I think that the Civilization series is one of the best series of computer games ever. Don’t ask why, but for some reason, it seems to go better for me when this song is repeating endlessly in the background:
Inspired by the Arbourist, I present this quote from Corey Robin, writing in The Nation:
St. Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nabokov, Isaiah Berlin and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both.
Why Liberalism (US definition) works.
I’m most definitely not the first to notice this, but people borrowed from themselves centuries ago. Consider these two annotated Mozart incipits:
The first two bars of the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 7 K. 309.
The first two bars of the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 K. 331
The one on top is the first two bars of the first movement of Piano Sonata No. 7 K. 309; the one on the bottom is the first two bars of the second movement (the minuet) of Piano Sonata No. 11. K. 311 (that’s the one with the well–known Rondo alla Turca). As can be seen, perhaps even by someone who cannot read music, they begin with almost the exact same phrase. Indeed, they start with the same pattern (ignoring the acciaccaturas) of scale degrees (the annotations above the staves). They also have basically the same pattern of “long” and “short” (ill–defined terms) notes. Just about the most significant difference is the key, as C major and A major are not closely–related.
After these two bars, the two movements diverge significantly.
France and Slovakia qualified for the next round of the 2013 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship. The main tournament is takes place in Finland and starts December 29.
Chantal Kreviazuk is one of my favourite singers.
This is so much a song for New Years’… or the singer’s birthday.
The Arbourist’s partner, The Intransigent One, is a choral soprano who has received some vocal training. She has even taught herself arias. The Arbourist himself sings in a choir but mostly plays the piano. With that information in mind, I wonder they think of this video, another incarnation of the “Sh*t people say” meme:
It’s Sh*t Opera Singers Say, and is brought to you by mezzo–soprano Jennifer Rivera and Tenor William Ferguson.
Some trivia: The song sung when she puts on all those scarves is not a made up, but rather is a few measures of what is arguably the best–known opera excerpt sung by women, the Queen of the Night Aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, also known as Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen. The fact that she doesn’t reach F6 shows she’s no coloratura soprano.
Over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars there is a long comment thread about the Worst Song Ever Made.
Now, there is much music I don’t like. I don’t like country, and don’t really care for opera, which you would probably find surprising if you knew which songs in school band I liked the best. With a few exceptions, I really, really dislike rap and hip–hop.
The songs I listed at Dispatches, plus some additions (in no particular order and not an exhaustive list):
- “Drift Away” by Uncle Kracker: This is cover, but I’ve never heard any other version, so I can’t comment on them. However, it would be hard to be worse than this version.
- “Big Yellow Taxi”, especially the Counting Crows f. Vanessa Carlton version: I know I’ll probably be attacked for picking this one, but I won’t back down. Does a cover of an awful song qualify as being one of the worst covers or not?
- “Who Will Save Your Soul” by Jewel: Isn’t it amazing that the author of one of the best love songs ever also wrote this appalling drivel?
- “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes: I used to really like this song. It made me think of someone climbing a mountain, with the climax of this song coming on as soon as they reach their destination. Since then, this song has gone downhill with me.
- “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael: The title says enough about this.
- “Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera: Pure, unadulterated gimmickry.
Besides the above, I really can’t stand Mariah Carey’s recent (post–Daydream) stuff. Her old school music is like a million, million times better than her newer songs. The old and the new Mariah Carey might as well be different people. I miss the old Mariah Carey.
At the Dispatches thread, “Foster Disbelief” mentioned “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette. Now, I have a copy of Jagged Little Pill, and while not the best song on the album (that award is a toss–up between “All I Really Want” and “Head Over Feet”), it is nowhere near the worst song. And to quibble, a song you expect to be ironic, but isn’t, clearly is the opposite of what you expect;)
As for the best popular music–type songs (some of my picks), those are after the jump.