Let the Reindeer Live on my Roof - a Christmas mix
1. All I Want for Christmas is You - My Chemical Romance
I refuse to believe anyone on earth does not need My Chemical Romance covering Mariah Carey. They do a pretty decent job of it, as well, but even if they hadn't, dude, come on.
2. Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) - The Darkness
Yes. I loved this when it came out, and I still do; I find it the perfect Christmas song of a traditional tacky Wizzard-y variety, where it's both totally ridiculous and occasionally inexplicably catches at my heart anyway. That, and some people really giving it some in the percussion section.
3. Last Christmas - Jimmy Eat World
I have several covers of this Wham! classic, but this is by far my favourite, turning a song we've all got a little tired of into something bright-eyed and earnest all over again. Their voices are always lovely, but I find the way they've set this musically absolutely beautiful, and like all Jimmy Eat World songs, I am sad at being unable to let this in out of the cold and make it hot chocolate.
4. Frosty the Snowman - Cocteau Twins
Stunning. And also, the freaking Cocteau Twins singing Frosty the Snowman.
5. Let the Reindeer Live on my Roof - Audra
Technically this is a song for just after Christmas rather than before, but it's so small and determined, the indiepop equivalent of a six-year-old boy who can't bear to see the decorations put back in their boxes, that I couldn't resist including it. I wish they would let the reindeer live on his roof.
6. Just For Now - Imogen Heap
Imogen's usual glorious layered gauzy vocals take on the impossibility of spending Christmas with your family, with everyone driving each other to distraction until someone burns the turkey. I'm sure none of us know what that's like.
7. Carol of the Bells - The Bird & the Bee
I've only come across this band this year and inevitably, with their songs, I find myself thinking, 'this is brilliant, and so cool it hurts, it's fantastic...I don't like it', in the manner of trying a dessert you've always eyed in the windows of a patisserie and discovering that actually it tastes pretty weird, but now you can't say so, because you've made a fuss about wanting to try it for years. ...anyway, I feel a bit the same about this version of Carol of the Bells, but it is, nevertheless, really good.
8. Holly Jolly Christmas - Joy Electric
I'm afraid we've taken a brief detour into the land of truly stupid electronica with this and our next track. It's patently terrible and the auditory equivalent of the kids' ride at a theme park that not even children will go on because it's so rubbish, and that is why I love it.
9. Let It Snow - Venus Hum
Venus Hum, when they're good, are really quite extraordinarily good, delivering glorious clear-skies synthpop that makes your heart race. Unfortunately, this is them covering 'Let It Snow' with a vocoder, instead. Better luck next time! (God, I love vocoders.)
10. Winter Wonderland - Abney Park
I don't even know, they did a whole album called Dark Christmas, and some of their versions of things are actually quite ethereal and cool, but this is our train ride out of stupid electronica so instead you get them trying to electrogoth up Parson Brown. As it were. It is about as dark as this.
11. Little Drummer Boy - The Echoing Green
This is from a whole synthpop Christmas album I really need to get. There's this thing with the Echoing Green that it doesn't seem to matter how silly what they're doing is, some combination of their harmonies, synth sounds, and the timbre of their voices makes me absolutely useless with affection. This is no exception even if possibly it should be. :)
12. I Saw Three Ships - Richard Souther
How was I supposed to say no to an electronic instrumental Christmas album called Tesla's Christmas? Most of it is predictably daft, but this starts with such a gorgeous caves-in-the-ice atmospheric opening that I can't fault it even when it does wander off into Mike Oldfield territory once it hits the tune.
13. Douce Nuit - IAMX
You all know how I feel about Chris Corner, right? Yeah. You have to understand, the flaws and terrible French pronunciation in this just make him more attractive. ...somehow. ...maybe it's just me. Anyway, here he is gliding all over the French version of Silent Night; I have no idea why this even happened. He's not a particularly Christmassy sort of person as a rule.
14. The Atheist Christmas Carol - Vienna Teng
She has many wonderful songs, but at this time of year especially, I lean towards this as being the very loveliest. Everything about it is perfect, a slow devotional carol to the complicated but beautiful nature of humanity, and it never fails to make me cry.
15. Star of Wonder - Tori Amos
Her Christmas album Midwinter Graces is fairly mixed, but this song at least is just amazing, a wonderful weaving of what I love about Tori at her best, and what I love about Christmas, likewise. It feels like one of those songs I was just waiting for someone to write so it could be there exactly when I need it.
16. Noel Nouvelet! - Loreena McKennitt
I love everything she does anyway, obviously, because I have no cred, but I am at the moment particularly fond of this take on an old French Christmas tune from her third Christmas/winter release, A Midwinter Night's Dream. It's just the right kind of nostalgic-medieval for me - you know, how the past would have been if the past had been like we wish it had been. Shh, it's Christmas. :)
17. Wolcum Yole! from A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten
A Ceremony of Carols is my favourite classical choral work ever - the whole thing is a masterpiece of the kind of strange-familiar Britten did better than anyone else, set flawlessly for voices and harp. This is just a joyful greeting of the season, voices threading in and out of each other like little birds until the end, where they all fly off at once.
18. I Believe in Father Christmas - Greg Lake
Yes, I did just follow Britten with this. You know me well enough by now, right? Anyway, this is my favourite Christmas song. It's overblown and extremely 70s and if you catch me with it unexpectedly I'll sob all the way through it like a child. It's about disillusionment and bitterness, but also about hope, and that's Christmas all over; everyone makes mistakes and everyone gets upset with each other, and everyone gets something they don't want, but in the end there are still choirs and candles and hope, even if it's just that next year's will be better.
I hope you enjoy, & let me know if there are any problems with downloading - I won't be back until Monday but can upload anything individually then. Suggestions for next week's theme also very welcome. :)