Thursday, December 10, 2009

pause for the music: 10 favorite christmas music performances

There is an abundance of Christmas music (and as the case may be, muzak) being piped through malls, elevators, radio stations, and telephone automated holds throughout the land right now. You almost cannot escape it, I mean - if you wanted to...that is...*ahem*. Anyway, I like Christmas music, but I prefer it on my terms- I prefer it performed beautifully and well. I don't always go in for the latest pop star's take on a classic, but on occasion some of them have put out some fantastic records.
Nonetheless- for this week's Christmas music installment of our ongoing 2009 Shelf Christmas Party, I thought I would share some clips of some of my favorite Christmas carols in some of the most beautiful performances I've heard. Several are classics, and some of them are more recent performances that are unforgettable. By the way, most of these are available on CD, and I encourage you to purchase them for your own collection.

I even decided to just pick my 10 favorites and even invite all of you out there to comment or share with me your favorites. Perhaps a Christmas Music Meme is in order- I invite any of my fellow bloggers to jump on the bandwagon. And the task is simple: What are your 10 most favorite Christmas music performances? Ones that still give you chills, and you have to listen to every year? I'll invite a couple to join in, but anyone is welcome to join in this fun Christmas meme. You don't have to provide clips like I have- just at least tell us what they are and why you like them. If you post one- let me know and I will update this post with a link to all the sites and posts that send me a link.

For now, here are my 10 Favorite Christmas music performances (in no particular order really, but numbered so I can make sure I narrow it down to ten).

10. Kristen Chenoweth: Do You Hear What I Hear? Kristen Chenoweth's Christmas CD from last year is one of my new favorites- absolutely beautiful.

9. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Brian Stokes Mitchell: Sleigh Ride
(The Mormon Tabernacle Choir always puts on a fantastic Christmas concert with some of the most celebrated performers around the world- and this song just sounds so great with a large choir and the bells- just awesome. I've always loved hearing them perform this song since hearing it on that Holiday classic special with Jimmy Stewart: Mr. Krueger's Christmas.)

Honorable mention: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir with The King's Singers: O, Holy Night (enough to give me chills everytime I hear it.)

8. Celtic Women: The First Noel (clip also includes a wonderful instrumental of In the Bleak Midwinter)

7. To me one of my favorite singers of all time is Harry Connick Jr., and his Christmas albums get heavy rotation this time of year. In fact, my own little tradition to kick off the chilly time of year is to listen to Harry's soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally- especially since there are several "wintery" type songs on there, including Winter Wonderland. Harry's version is still my favorite and on his last album he brought along his daughter to record it as a duet. Here is Harry Connick Jr and his daughter Kate with Winter Wonderland:

6. Amy Grant: Grown Up Christmas List. Yes, it's kinda sappy. Yes, I had a crush on Amy Grant growing up. What of it? You wanna fight about it or something? Either way- it's a beautiful song, and she has a beautiful voice- her Christmas albums are something I enjoy listening to every year.

5. Frank Sinatra: I'll be Home for Christmas/ Dean Martin and Frank: Marshmallow World. He's the Chairman- and he recorded a version of this song that is still one of the best and most heartfelt around. Fellow crooner Dino also recorded this classic solo and with Frank that is at once playful and sentimental- as only Dino and Ol' Blue Eyes could make it.
I'll Be Home for Christmas:

Marshmallow World (from the Dean Martin show):

4. Nat King Cole practically made Mel Torme's The Christmas Song an indelible classic. Nat brings soul, feeling and warmth to Christmas songs that I have to listen to every year. And his performance of Hark the Herald Angels Sing is one of my all time favorites, earning him a double bill at the number 4 spot:
Christmas Song:


3. Burl Ives, etc.- Soundtrack to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. What makes a Christmas song a classic? It's hard, because there are so many, and there so many versions of each song. Obviously, everyone has a favorite version of their particular song, but sometimes one just steps up above them all. When Rankin/Bass released their special Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer- in many ways the Burl Ives' version became the standard for kids of all ages. For my number 2 pick though- I'd have to suggest the whole darn soundtrack, especially to make sure I include my favorite: Silver and Gold:

2. Vince Guaraldi: A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack. I am a Peanuts fanatic- and my family knows it. The very first CD I owned was the soundtrack to this special. Lucy and Linus, O Christmas Tree- all seasonal classics. But anytime I hear "Christmas Time is Here" memories come rushing back, and I am transported to my childhood.

1. Now for classic Christmas performances that I have to hear during this time of year, you just can't forget Bing. And he's number one with me- no contest. Yes, White Christmas and Holiday Inn get multiple viewings in the Loophole household...but for some reason, I just love this performance of White Christmas with Bing and Marjorie Reynolds from Holiday Inn. It is tops in my book:

Honorable mention Bing: I could just make this entire list Bing's stuff- it's that great. But this little bonus performance comes from White Christmas- it isn't about Christmas per se, but I can't tell you how many times when times have been hard or down, that this wonderful song comes to mind: Count Your Blessings, Instead of Sheep. For me it's one of the lynchpins of the movie and it's just one of the things that makes White Christmas an everlasting classic movie.

I hope you've enjoyed this music filled meme and entry into the Shelf's 2009 Christmas party. I'd like to invite one and all bloggers to participate if they will- I'd love to see what songs Laura, Jacqueline, Ivan, the Classic Maiden and Retrohound have as their favorites. So I am tagging you 5 in particular, if you are willing.
Again - if you want to post your favorites- send me a link and I will update this post and include it here.

Lawdy, lawdy - we've already got some awesome posts up and I've received word that some are working on their picks. So we have some awesome posts to look forward to.
Remember- if you've taken up the challenge,(and the challenge is issued to one and all who wish to participate) please send me a link via email, or in the comments section and I will post it here!

First up- Ivan, the Master of Ceremonies at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear , has his selections posted for your viewing pleasure. And may I say, I was "thrilled," (HA- get it? You know, cause the name of the blog...and ...oh, never mind) yes, thrilled to see one his selections is the almighty Stan Freberg's Green Christmas. Longtime Shelfers know we have an unexplainable, yet eternal affection for all things Freberg. Do yourself a favor and go straightaway and check it out:

Retrohound kicks it up a notch with a very eclectic list. This is one of the reasons I sent out this meme-- I wanted to discover stuff I've never heard and rediscover things I had forgotten. Retrohound has plenty of music know-how and brings it to the table. To my eternal shame- he included Thurl Ravencroft's You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch- and I forgot. I can't believe I forgot about "Stink! Stank! Stunk!" Thanks for saving our bacon, Retrohound. Go hither and read it (and listen): Top 10 Christmas Song Performances of All-Time (well, this year anyway)

"OK, Uncle Loophole," you say, "We are familiar with your picks- fairly standard. We want something different, something hip, something unusual." Alright- I've got just the thing for you- check Gilligan's Retrospace. Some of the most unique choices yet and full of pop culture and some new performances for you to enjoy. Bonus points for picking a Mrs. Brady performance and the cool opening original post graphic. Don't delay- head over to 10 Favorite Christmas Music Performances straightaway.

The ever awesome Jacqueline at Another Old Movie Blog, has taken up the challenge and she has outdone herself. She has even gone one further by making her choices only from performances in classic films. I've "listened" to her picks several times already and am in the mood to pull out my stack of films for another round. But she serves the "coup de grace" with her commentary after her picks about what Christmas music means to all of and in bringing people together as a community. And I quote: "Christmas songs cater to neither young or old, city or rural. If you know some, you learned them as a child. For the rest of your life, you’ll fit into any makeshift street carolers or living room chorus, just like Joseph Cotten, who has a hard time fitting in any place after his bad war experience." And there is much more. Please go over and immerse yourself in Favorite Christmas Music Meme.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

You sound sweet, but you don't make sense.


Retro Hound said...

I'm working on it! I'm working on it! I'm also at work! ssshhh!

Retro Hound said...

J.C. Loophole said...

Awesome, my friend! I will update with the link now! Thank you!

VZ1 said...

I've posted mine here (I was tagged by Retro Hound). Great idea - I really enjoyed doing it!

J.C. Loophole said...

Thanks Gilligan! I'm glad you jumped in (I am also glad to discover your site- anyplace that has a Santa Sammy Davis Jr. is a place I want to kick my heels up and just drink in.)
I will be adding the link now - and one to your site on my sidebar as well, if that's arighty with you.

Hampers said...

Thanks for sharing the 10 favorite christmas music performances. It was nice going through your blog. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Mine's up, J.C. Here it is:

Thanks for this fun meme. I liked your picks.

J.C. Loophole said...

Thank you Jacqueline! I will update the post with your link right away!


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