Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: All That I Want

Today, December 24, is Fred's sister, Karen's, birthday, so I thought it would be appropriate to post a holiday song from The Weepies as she has been a fan of this band since Say I Am You back in 2005 (she may have been a fan even before then, but that was when she talked about them to me).

The Weepies offer some lowkey holiday music with a dash of whimsy and irreverence. Go to their website and shake the snowglobe.

Eight Nights of Chanukah Music: Eight Nights

Another night, another cute a cappella boy band singing about the meaning of Chanukah.

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Are You Coming Over For Christmas?

Well, are you? You better make up your mind, it's just a few days away!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Eight Nights of Christmas Music: Hanukkah Joy

Sometimes, you just want a pretty, traditional interpretation of the classics.

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Christmas in LA

"There's a well-rehearsed disinterest in the atmosphere. Don't know if tat's what tis town gave me or it led me here."-The Killers

The Killers do a Christmas song every year. This one may seem bleak, but it captures my point of view right now.

Years ago, Gail Kelly mocked me for choosing to pursue an acting career in Chicago. "You should move to LA if you want to be an actress," she said. With all due respect to the late Professor Kelly, there are very few choices from my past which I am one hundred percent certain were the right ones and not living here is one of them. Alas, my brother has chosen to make his life here which means I am forced to come here every so often. Yes, you get to experience 70 degree weather in December, but you don't get snow and it feels like Christmas is just another day. I can only imagine how much worse it would feel if I sacrificed everything to be here and I think of all the actors I have known who did just that and I hope they are well, wherever they are.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: White Christmas

For those seeking a combination of the classic and the cool, artistic self-awareness coupled with nostalgia, here is Iggy Pop singing White Christmas. It is perfect in so many ways-it is a legitimately good rendition, faithful, but with a twist, and it has all the layers that only Iggy Pop can bring to a recording like this. Like Bing Crosby, he has a baritone voice and, like David Bowie, he was doing performance art onstage before it was even a thing--OH MY GOSH, this may well approach Little Drummer Boy levels of awesome! Not to mention that, lately, every time I hear Iggy Pop, I am reminded me of David Carradine in Kill Bill-he's smart, polite, generous, well-spoken, but there is always a menacing undercurrent, an awareness that you should never cross him because he will exact his revenge. Which is exactly what you want in an elder statesman of punk rock and what you want in a Christmas song.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Every Day Should Be a Holiday

Despite the movie tie-in, this is obviously a Christmas song. I mean, if I had told you in the 90s to think of a holiday song by The Dandy Warhols, this is exactly what you would have thought it would sound like.

Eight Nights of Chanukah Music: Hip Hop Chanukah

Friday, December 19, 2014

Eight Nights of Chanukah: Happy Epic Chanukah!

Chanukah is the most epic holiday in history!

Trust us. We went to college.

And if that doesn't convince you to watch this, it features Rachel Bloom, creator of the brilliant tribute song to Ray Bradbury (you know the one I'm talking about).

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: O Little Town of Bethlehem

I like to think that if the Peanuts gang ever grew up, Belle & Sebastian would compose the music for their Christmas special.

Eight Nights of Chanukah Music: Happy Hanukkah Boyyyyyyyy

This is from a comedy show from the 90s and you can totally see that as the video references all the hip hop cliches from back in the day.

Throw your dreidls in the air!

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: O Tannenbaum

I love how They Might Be Giants make this sound like a funeral dirge. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it from the tree's point of view.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eight Nights of Chanukah Music: Applesauce vs. Sour Cream

"Life has many decisions, it moves in all directions, this is just one huge, enormous, big decision you have to make. You have to make it."-The LeeVees

I love the LeeVees and it wouldn't be Chanukah without me posting at least one song by them, but i think they are ignoring the obvious here.

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

A lot of artists have offered us their versions of this Christmas classic first sung by Darlene Love.

However, as good as some of them have been, most are quite faithful renditions which only serve to remind us of how great the original is. Why do it if it only makes listeners wonder why you had to mess with something perfect?

Then there are some which don't try to compete with the song, they use the affection and memory you have of it to take you somewhere new.

The Raveonettes have taken a classic and made if sound like icicles and snowfall in a way reminiscent of The Cocteau Twins' take on Frosty The Snowman. Who doesn't love a little ambient shoegazy goodness this time of year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Eight Nights of Chanukah Music: The Rocky Hora Chanukah Song

While this song is goofy, it makes an odd sort of sense. After all, there was a bit of a time warp going on when the oil meant to last for only one day burned for eight.

This band call themselves The Shlomones. Yesterday, I posted a Christmas song by The Ramones. I am ashamed that it only now occurs to me that I should have posted these songs on the same day, for the sake of symmetry.

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Is This Christmas?

The Wombats manage to capture the stress and general ennui many people begin to feel about Christmas when they grow up. As a kid, everything is lights and cookies and christmas, but then you hit an age when Christmas seems more like work than anything else, with people expecting time you don't have and gifts you can't afford and the constant threat of having at least one sobbing meltdown in the bathroom while everyone else hangs out in the other room, none the wise (or at least, pretending they are). No one tells you when you are a kid that once you have aged out of believing in Santa, it's all downhill. However, no one also tells you that having a kid means you get to vicariously live through his Christmas joy. Maybe not enough to listen to all Christmas songs 24/7 (NO, NOT THE CHRISTMAS SHOES!), but at least enough to dance around to the ones which express the conflict of trying to navigate all the angst and still maintain one's sense of wonder.

Of course, I have to disagree with them as it is impossible to watch Back To The Future too many times.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)

This is one of those songs which is legitimately good, Christmas theme or no Christmas theme. The video is great too. I think we all know those people who can be depended upon to fight regardless of the time of year or the number of witnesses*, so if you are stuck spending the holiday with them, you just ignore their screaming and punching, because unless it gets in the way of the gifts and the food, it is just the usual background noise. The fighting, no matter how bad it seems to get, never rises even to the level of drama, much less ruining the holiday. Of course, you get to go home and talk smack about them, but you also have to secretly admit that their antics take a lot of the pressure off of you because how can you not look good in comparison? Better hope those two never patch things up else Santa, not unlike Sauron, will turn his judgmental eye in your direction.

*From 1976-1989, people in my family would probably say this is a good description of my brother and I. Yeah, Mom always said Santa would not give us gifts because of our fighting, but we each were sure that Santa was on our side! Then he grew taller than me and I went to college and we were forced to declare a truce. Still, even though we both now have children and have, allegedly, grownup, we probably will always be just five minutes away from throwing Goldfish crackers at each other.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Santa Stole My...

Apparently, a lot of people are in a panic over Santa's seductive abilities.

Let's start things out with Santa Stole My Baby

Where The Mistreaters are angry and raw, Fitz and the Tantrums bring a more soulful and philosophical take on the theme with Santa Stole My Lady. They are over the initial shock and betrayal and, now, they just want the guys out there to know that if it happened to them, it can happen to you, so hide that mistletoe.

The Maine offer us Santa Stole My Girlfriend

And then there are some songs which take the misogyny to eleven. Because that is the problem with all these songs, isn't it? Yeah, you can say they are grown up takes on I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, but the simple idea that one's girlfriend/lady/baby is a possession that can be stolen and that Santa worked some magic to lure her away, as opposed to the radical idea that one's girlfriend/lady/baby is a person who makes her own choices and one of them may be that she prefers a man whose stomach resembles a bowl full of jelly. I feel like the anger is misplaced, that these guys should not be mad at Santa, but at themselves for not being better boyfriends. Boys, you need to stop whining and take accept that it isn't Santa's fault she dumped your sorry ass.

However, lest you think I am letting Santa, a man who tells children that one's behavior influences the gifts one receives which really seems like a way of saying poor people deserve their fate, off the hook, you would be wrong. Our final song, Santa Stole My Whiskey by Johnny Manak, establishes that Santa can be kindof a jerk.

The takeaway from all this is to never trust a man in a red suit. Also, don't forget to leave out those cookies and milk.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas Music: Feliz Navidad and a Digression

It will probably come as no surprise to most of you that Julian loves Christmas music. Starting sometime around mid-November, he has the Christmas music stations playing on Pandora and can't sleep without the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby crooning White Christmas*. So since I am surrounded by the stuff, I figured I should resurrect the Christmas/Chanukah music blogging (or even, you know, resurrect the blogging full stop).

So let's start things off this year with El Vez rocking out to an xmas classic

This is a perfect way for me to get the ball rolling as it allows me to casually mention that one thing I did this year was direct a staged reading of If I Were You And Other Elvis Presley Songs by Leah Roth Barsanti, a play about a teenage boy who dreams of becoming an Elvis impersonator- it isn't arrogance on my part to say it was fantastic as all the brilliance was due to Leah and the extremely talented actors with whom we were lucky to work. But, even without that, this is a really excellent way to kick off the holidays because what could be more American an Elvis influenced, punk rock interpretation of a Jose Feliciano classic?

*A few years back, we all watched Holiday Inn because we thought it would get us into the holiday spirit. We were unprepared for the creepiness of it all and outdated gender messages (at least they cut the blackface from the broadcast we watched). This film about two rivals, in business and in love, was just annoying and even though we were quite obviously supposed to be shipping Jim and Linda (sure, Linda, give up that big Hollywood film contract to perform on your husband's farm in Connecticut!), both Ted and Jim were such manipulative jerks, Linda would have been better off without either of them. And people say Love, Actually is sexist and awful? At least an argument can be made that Love, Actually is a subversive film-it pretends to be a sweet rom-com, but most of the men are useless drains on the women in their lives who they either ignore or fetishize or abuse--I think the only men in the film who aren't awful are Peter and Karl (neither of whom do much as they are not the stars of their vignettes), Joe (who doesn't interact with women as that is not the point of that vignette), Daniel (who was mourning), and Sam (who was fourteen). And, yeah, I will grant you that John (Martin Freeman) is fairly innocuous, but that vignette seemed to be more of a space filler (as evidenced by the fact that vignette often gets cut from most broadcasts and the emotional impact of the film remains in tact). Oh, and then there is Rowan Atkinson's character, Rufus, but according to Wikipedia he was a Christmas Angel, so technically not a man. Alright, yes, I admit it, I love Love, Actually even though I also agree with this and this: