New Year’s Countdown, Friday

T-Minus 5

I know Christmas is over, but it’s Friday again and I happened to run across one more very interesting variation on All I Want for Christmas Is You. No fancy visuals with this one. It’s all about the words and music, with a mash-up of Mariah’s hit and another unlikely hit of another decade that fits it surprisingly well.

Watch from the beginning, see the previous post, or read the next.

Christmas Countdown, Friday #4

Day 22

This is the last Friday before Christmas, and the fourth and last video on this theme — All I Want for Christmas Is You. It’s only fitting, after all the covers, that we bring it into the station with the diva herself, Mariah Carey. She released it just over 25 years ago, right before Halloween 1994, and it was the lead single from her fourth studio album and first holiday album, Merry Christmas.

She’s also covered her own song several times, including for her second holiday album in 2010, Merry Christmas II You, and again in 2011 as a duet with Justin Bieber for his holiday album Under the Mistletoe. And countless other people have recorded it in the ensuing two and a half decades as well.

Like I originally described it, you can think of the song as “Mariah Carey’s Retirement Plan.” I’ll have another famous artist’s retirement plan song coming up soon although, sadly, they never made it to retirement. And there may be one more surprise in the works when it comes to All I Want for Christmas Is You.

Check out the my favorite cover of this song, the previous post, the next post, or the first post on this theme and in this series.

Christmas Countdown, Friday #3

Day 15

We’re back to the next iteration of the day this all started and the theme is All I Want for Christmas Is You. This time, the take is decidedly emo and, while the words are the same, the interpretation has a definite feeling of an implied “or else.” Yes, this is the most stalkerish take on it, courtesy of My Chemical Romance.

Oddly enough, and I didn’t know this until I was putting together this post, the band has a reunion tour that begins in L.A. with an already sold-out concert one week from today. Had I known previously, they would have gotten next week’s slot, but it’s probably better to post them now so that any fans of theirs who missed this news can have a week to feel appropriately sad about it.

The band’s name, by the way, is actually a very literate and thought-out reference that mixes part Elizabethan satire of alchemy and part an older German work that led to what was being satirized in the play in the first place. However, the latter was titled as a “chymical wedding,” not a romance, although the style of literature is allegorical romance. The former only referenced The Alchemist in its title, but didn’t take kindly to them. And there’s the extra layer on top of that… exactly what kind of chemicals is the band referring to in the early 21st century, and do they bring one loved one to another, or is the singer/songwriter in love with the chemical?

Yeah, that’s more unpacking than you’re going to do if you travel home this year for the holidays. Enjoy!

See the previous post or visit the next.

Christmas Countdown, Friday #2

Day 8

Remember, this day’s theme is All I Want for Christmas Is You, and this is absolutely one of my favorite covers of it for a ton of reasons. This one is from Out of the Blue, described on their website as Oxford’s premier all-male a cappella group, and they regularly do charity singles like this for the benefit of Helen & Douglas House Hospice for Children and Young Adults.

The other nice thing about OOTB is that over the years they have become more and more inclusive. As far as I can determine, this video is only five years old (although I could swear I’ve been linking to it every year for much longer), and it only hints playfully at accidental gayness. Their more recent videos don’t hold back or apologize for anything. This one is just tons of cute and adorable, plus these boys can sing and dance. And for a good cause.

Don’t miss Thursday’s post, or Saturday’s!

Countdown to Christmas

This originally began as an intended series of Facebook posts starting the day after Thanksgiving, but I forgot one thing. Facebook hates YouTube, so posting a video from there tends to get buried by their algorithm. But… my blog posts don’t, so I’m taking the indirect route back to Facebook, and all my readers get to share in the fun. In this post, I’ll re-cap the first five days, and then we’ll be up to date.

Day 1

As promised, now begins the countdown to Christmas with a series of holiday themed videos. Friday’s theme is “All I Want for Christmas,” aka “Mariah Carey’s Retirement Plan.” I’ll be sharing different takes on her instant Christmas classic. Hey, if you’re going to write a song to cash in on the holiday, at least make it a good one, okay?

This video became an instant favorite of mine when I first stumbled across it. It combines the song with some amazing choreography and a little gender-bending.Choreographed by and Starring Alex Karigan and Zac Hammer, members of Amy Marshall Dance Company. Beyond that and the name they use, The Yahs Initiative, I don’t know much more about the performers or video, other than that most of their videos are Christmas themed, and they haven’t posted anything in three years. Enjoy!

Day 2

Saturday’s Countdown to Christmas theme is famous duets, and I’m kicking it off with a modern classic that has become controversial recently because, when you really listen to the lyrics, it does come off as very date-rapey. Even the lyrics hint at this, with the male vocalist identified as “Wolf,” and the female vocalist identified as “Mouse.”

In this rendition, Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt flip the roles as she plays wolf to his mouse. Do you think this reinforces or negates the perception of the song as being about attempted date rape?

Day 3

Sunday’s theme for Countdown to Christmas is going to be “It’s Not Just Christmas,” a reminder that there are other holidays this time of year. Here’s a song by Bob Grow celebrating that most famous of made-up TV alternative holidays.

Day 4

On Mondays, the theme is going to be Spanish Christmas carols; los lunes tendremos los villancicos navideños españoles. Today, we’ll start with a simple one that most English speakers know and which gets played a lot this year — José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” One interesting thing to note is that this simple title reminds us how Spanish construction and word choice frequently follows British, rather than American, usage. “Feliz navidad” literally means “Happy Christmas,” which is what they say in the UK. To be closer to the American “Merry Christmas,” the phrase would probably be “Navidad alegre,” although I don’t think anyone ever says that.

Day 5

For Tuesdays, I’ll be bringing you more tranditional Christmas carols not necessarily performed in traditional ways. Our first goes back to 1988 and the holiday special episode of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” While that show always pretended to be for kids, it really was aimed squarely at adults but flew under the radar of most folk who weren’t in the know, and there was a certain gay sensibility about it. In that context, then, this appearance by Grace Jones was groundbreaking. She was a gender-bending performer and not necessarily family friendly, but there she was, performing the number absolutely straight. Not to mention that her costume and the musical arrangement are both spectacular.

Check out the next post in the series!