Just one Christmas music wrapup and then I won't touch the stuff for months--unless you want to talk Darlene Love, of course.
If you missed Comcast's ridiculous "Twenty Greatest Christmas Songs" on their homepage, consider yourself lucky. Not many spiritual songs made their Top 20 (I noted Aretha Franklin's high-powered "Joy to the World," from the mid-'90s), and Comcast went out of their way to belittle anything socio-political by leaving it out: A zilch ranking for Stevie Wonder's "Someday at Christmas," John & Yoko's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" and certainly no mention of Lou Rawls' flabbergasting "Christmas Will Really Be Christmas," which you need to hear if you're unfamiliar with it.
There was no place to leave comments at the end of the piece; Comcast doesn't want
your two cents.
Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" and Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" are usually ranked at the top of most opinion polls; the order continues to flip-flop over the decades. I prefer Crosby's "Do You Hear What I Hear" to "White Christmas," but I've got no quibble with what so many consider to be the apex of holiday music.
Get this, though: Comcast had Crosby at #1 and Cole at #3.
What was #2, then? Why, Mariah Carey's insipid "All I Want For Christmas Is You," which recalls the speed freak camp of 1970s Bette Midler. Since King Cole and Der Bingle share a certain era (and a stylistic grandeur), sandwiching Carey's frantic romp between them is a dumb choice, so...uh, Com-bastic. What criteria was used to determine the song rankings? That explanation was left out completely.
If you need to pick a track to represent the '90s, there are holiday songs that are among Mariah Carey's most skillful work. Like the heartbreaking "Miss You Most (At Christmastime)" or her inspired pairing of the "Joy to the World" hymn with Three Dog Night's hit of the same title--now those are worthy of a Top 20 rating.
A holiday FYI: CD mastering wiz Bob Ludwig worked his magic on the 2009 reissue of
A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, (Sony/EMI Publishing), which includes no less than four stellar Darlene Love performances and deserves a place in your holiday music stack. Hmmm, no new Phil Spector interview or anything in the packaging.
Guess he was busy.