Definitive Christmas

Everyone has certain songs that âœmakeâ their Christmas. For my mother, itâ™s Nat âœKingâ Cole singing âœThe Christmas Song,â while my (ethnically Jewish) stepfather has a thing for âœJoy to the Worldâ – I think he likes the brassiness of it. This is my âœdefinitive Christmasâ playlist of the moment. Since I didnâ™t make cdâ™s for anyone this year (except our choir director, who is getting a copy of this entry), I thought Iâ™d share the list.

1) âœThe Giftâ performed by the Kingâ™s Singers. Iâ™d never heard it until a few nights ago, as I wrote in a previous blog entry, but Iâ™ve fallen in love with it. I should confess, however, that Iâ™ve loved the melody ever since we learned it in grade school, and my favorite version of the song itself is YoYo Maâ™s.

2) âœOh Little Town of Bethlehemâ performed by the Kingâ™s College Choir. One day, not long after Fuzzy and I had started singing with the choir at church, our choir director mentioned that one of the hymns we were doing was also an alternate melody for this song. So, of course, I had to FIND that version. Who better than the folks at Kingâ™s?

3) âœSilent Nightâ performed by John Denver. I grew up surrounded by jazz, 1970â™s rock, and folk music, and since we lived in Colorado for seven years, a LOT of John Denver music. I love that his settings are so simple and sing-able, and I also love the purity of his voice.

4) âœGod Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kingsâ performed by the Barenaked Ladies and Sara McLaughlin. At first, I thought this was the worst Christmas song ever, but then I found myself riffing on it in the shower. Taking traditional songs and resetting them in contemporary forms appeals to my inner rebel, I guess, or the part of me that really wants to be a 1940â™s cabaret singer. Anyway, yeah, this song is catchy.

5) âœSanta Babyâ performed by Eartha Kitt. Must I say more than âœMeowwwww?â

6) âœAll I Want for Christmas (Is You)â performed by Mariah Carey. Fun, flirty, and upbeat. Itâ™s fluff, but itâ™s happy fluff. And a little candy floss is a good thing now and then.

7) âœIt Mustâ™ve Been Old Santa Clausâ performed by Harry Connick, Jr. I live for jazz and swing (as much as I live for show tunes and folk), and Iâ™ve had a musical crush on Harry since EVER. This song is so kicky it never fails to make me smile.

8) âœMy Grown Up Christmas Listâ performed by Natalie Cole. I know Amy Grant originated the song, but I like Natalie Coleâ™s warmer, darker tones better. This is the ultimate Christmas song for people like me who grew up with activist parents.

9) âœWhite Christmasâ performed by Bing Crosby. A perennial favorite, and it reminds me of my grandmother. I think she had Bing on her freebie list.

10) âœIâ™ll Be Home for Christmasâ performed by Diana Krall. I donâ™t dislike Frank Sinatraâ™s version of this song, but Diana Krallâ™s is newer and suits my own sensibilities more. This song, I keep on my list in memory of my grandfather. It makes me cry.

11) âœThe Christmas Songâ performed by Nat King Cole. Iâ™m enough of a Christmas traditionalist to require this version over all others. I could listen to it forever. And probably will.

12) âœBelieveâ performed by Josh Groban. This is the end title tune from the movie of The Polar Express, which I loved because it was true to the style of the book (we all know I hate animation). I fell in love with this song over the summer.

13) âœChristmas Lullabyeâ by Jason Robert Brown. This song is from Songs for a New World, and I want to say that the singer on the cd is Jennifer Molaskey, but since I donâ™t have the ACTUAL cd, only the tracks (which I bought legally from Napster), I donâ™t have all the artist information. I would kill to sing this song somewhere other than my living room.

14) âœO Holy Nightâ performed by Charlotte Church. While Iâ™ve always loved this song, I can never find a version that really satisfies me. Charlotte Churchâ™s is as good as any, I guess, even though her voice is a little too sweet sometimes. (Then again, she was pretty young when she recorded this.)

15) âœAve Mariaâ performed by Andrea Bocelli. The Schubert version, though I like the Gounod/Bach version as well. You cannot grow up in an Italian family without this song being part of your cultural heritage. The only other Christmas song that screams âœNew Jersey Neapolitanâ more loudly is âœDominick the Donkey,â which Iâ™m not including.

16) âœYou Are the New Dayâ performed by the Kingâ™s Singers. Itâ™s their traditional closing song at most of their concerts, and while itâ™s not really a Christmas song, I like the melody and the message, and the notion of beginning and ending a list with a song by the same artist. I first heard it in a master class when I was fifteen, and Iâ™ve loved it ever since.

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Definitive Christmas by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.