Here’s what to listen to this holiday season

Stock photo | Pixabay
Stock photo | Pixabay
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Here’s a list to quickly get you in the mood for that holiday magic.
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I take the holidays very seriously, especially my Christmas music. Because I believe Thanksgiving deserves its whole weekend, I didn’t start listening to Christmas music until Dec. 1.

When I was growing up, my only exception was when I performed in the Robinson Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” and had no choice but to listen to it starting in mid-September.

But come December, watch out, because I fully get into the Christmas spirit. With Thanksgiving so late this year, and Christmas right around the corner, here’s a list of some (unfortunately not all) of my personal favorites to quickly get you in the mood for that holiday magic.

Best Original Song

“Last Christmas” by Wham!

“Last Christmas” was on the British pop-duo’s 1984 album “Music from the Edge of Heaven.” Although it’s about a breakup around Christmas, I love turning it up when it comes on the radio. Plus, who doesn’t love George Michael serenading you? I’m curious to see how the song translates to the movie version of the same name.

Honorable mention: “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby

This song was performed for the taping of “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas” TV special in 1977. Apparently, Bowie hated “The Little Drummer Boy” (the feeling is mutual), so Crosby sings it simultaneously with Bowie’s original tune “Peace on Earth.” It’s a truly excellent twist to an old classic.

Best Instrumental

Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”

This whole album is absolutely delightful. Although it has some Christmas classics such as “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Tanenbaum,” you can listen to this album past the holiday up until New Years. The past couple years, the Heather Pierson Trio has come to the Bangor Arts Exchange to play the album in full live and this year they will again Dec. 14. If you haven’t gone before, I highly recommend it. Last year, when I was struggling to get in the holiday mood, this pulled me right in.

Honorable mention: Trans Siberian Orchestra

This is on the complete opposite side of the Christmas music spectrum. But hearing “Carol of the Bells” with intense electric guitar puts a great spin on the usual choral piece.

Best Liturgical

“In the Bleak Midwinter”

My entire family can attest to the fact that “In the Bleak Midwinter” is one of my favorite songs. It is a song traditionally sung during Advent, and I look forward to hearing it every year at my dad’s chamber choir’s annual Advent concert.

Honorable mention: “O Holy Night”

This was my grandmother’s favorite Christmas song and one of mine as well. It is covered frequently and Celine Dion’s version is quite spectacular and showcases her enormous range on her album “These are Special Times.”

Best Tear Inducing

“River” by Joni Mitchell

I think a lot of people will agree that “The Christmas Shoes” has to be the most upsetting song to listen to during the Christmas season. I straight up refuse to listen to it. But I absolutely love “River” by Joni Mitchell. This Christmas folk-tune from her 1971 album “Blue” is not the cheery song most like to listen to during the Christmas season. It is about the end of a romantic relationship around the holidays. Although the subject matter may not get you into the holiday spirit, it is a beautiful song that I still love to listen to.

Honorable Mention: “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” by Nat King Cole

The name itself says it all. It has an excellent instrumental beginning though.

Best Classic

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra

Next to “In the Bleak Midwinter,” Frank Sinatra’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is my absolute favorite Christmas song. It was featured on Sinatra’s 1957 album, “A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra,” and I definitely recommend giving the entire album a listen as well.

Honorable mention: “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

I sing this song quite frequently around Christmas since Maine winters have been anything but white the past few years. Crosby sang the song in its first public performance in 1941 in “The Kraft Music Hall,” and it has been a holiday classic ever since.

Best Cover

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Jackson 5

This is my favorite cover of the 1930s classic. This comes off of the group’s album “Jackson 5 Christmas Album,” which was the best-selling Christmas album of 1970. There are also great songs off of this album such as “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

Honorable mention: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Michael Buble

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is a cover of the 1943 song originally sung by Bing Crosby. Buble’s version comes off of his 2011 album “Christmas” which has many bops as well. For my family, it isn’t Christmas without some Michael Buble.

Personal Favorite Album

“The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album”

My sisters and I grew up to my mom playing Beach Boys music on the tape cassette player in her old Plymouth Voyager. So when my sister discovered they had a Christmas album, of course we had to get it. The album was released in November 1964 and includes five originals and seven standards such as “We Three Kings of Orient Are” and “Auld Lang Syne.” This album brings the beach to the cold winters of Maine and is great to listen to when we’re decorating our tree with our surfing Santa ornament.

Best Lausier family albums

These are the albums we have on rotation:

“Christmas” by Michael Buble

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

“A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra” by Frank Sinatra

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Vince Guaraldi Trio

“The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album” by The Beach Boys

“Christmas Time Is Here The Encore!” by Canadian Brass

This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s December 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.

 



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