There’s no room for most people to brain today since all the blood has been diverted from the brain to the stomach, so let’s have some holiday music. The first six songs were contributed by Grania (her notes are indented), starting off with an unusual one-take performance of “Sleigh Ride” by Nataly Dawn and Clara C:
This next song was originally recorded by indie folk band Fleet Foxes and then given a new lease on life a few years later by Pentatonix. The lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense, Robin Pecknold says that the song was more about rhythm than anything else. Here are both versions for comparison.
Here’s one traditional version, by the incomparable Nat King Cole, also contributed by Grania:
This is one of the oldest known carols, possibly dating back to the 16th century. Pentatonix play around with it and have arranged a version that playfully slips from one style to another and increases tempo until the breakneck speed of the final verse.
And then, because it’s probably humanly impossible to watch James Corden do anything without an outbreak of smiling all over your face, here’s his 2016 pastiche of carpool karaokes of Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas. It was recorded over the year during all his other carpool sessions, and features Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Adele, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Elton John amongst others.
Yes, many people think the Carpenters are cheesy, but I (JAC) still think Karen Carpenter had the best voice of any pop singer of our time. Here’s a personal favorite, “Merry Christmas Darling“, written by Richard Carpenter and Frank Pooler and first recorded in 1970.
I thought the song below was an old standard, and was surprised to find out that it was written in 1962. The Wikipedia entry gives the story:
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker. The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Regney had been invited by a record producer to write a Christmas song, but he was hesitant due to the commercialism of the Christmas holiday. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists.
Regney wrote the lyrics for the song, while Shayne composed the music in October 1962. This was an unusual arrangement for the two writers. Usually it was Shayne who wrote the lyrics for their songs while Regney composed the music, as they did when they wrote a song based on the classic children’s song “Rain Rain Go Away”.
Regney was inspired to write the lyrics “Said the night wind to the little lamb, ‘Do you see what I see?'” and “Pray for peace, people everywhere” after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City. Shayne stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time.”
. . . The song was later recorded in diverse ways by hundreds of artists. . . Regney said that his favorite version was performed by Robert Goulet. As The New York Times noted, when the singer came to the line “Pray for peace, people everywhere,” he “almost shouted the words.”
So, here’s the Goulet version: