Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Music Mixtape--Mix It Up This Year

            NOTE: This blog post will not have a theme song, but rather multiple songs embedded via YouTube for you to sample what I believe would be the foundations for a better playlist for Christmas.  Also, I know it's another verbose blog post but hear me out: it's well worth it!

            Well, it's the time of the year again, where people purchase presents for other people in their lives, other people volunteer to help the homeless and hungry, cats fuck around with Christmas trees, retail businesses go nuts over Christmas sales, and radio stations keep playing cheesy music for the holiday season.

            It doesn't matter if you celebrate Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or whatever else you feel like celebrating at Christmas (Halloween?  Because you're cool like that?), those songs on the radio get extremely annoying.  When my family and I were spending Christmas in New Jersey (part of my territory, Daleks), I'd be lucky to just pass out from exhaustion on the car ride home.  Lately, since I've been getting into music, it's been so annoying to hear those songs over and over.  I'd be like, "Can we PLEASE put on some fucking techno already?!"  Of course, that's only in my head, and since my mother tends to be only a little telepathic, she can't just instantly read my mind anytime she wants or whenever I want her to.  It'd get insane!  And violent and vulgar!  And Hulk-like angry!  *cringe*
            But the irritation got worse when I was working in retail at a store that does a lot of seasonal stuff: the Christmas Tree Shops (run by Bed Bath & Beyond).  I'm not a fan of working in retail at that place, and I don't plan on doing it again anytime soon, but the station that the place was tuned in to, I swear, only plays like, 10 tracks on repeat.  So it's the same songs over and over and over again.  I had to resort to bleaching my brain with some Swedish death metal songs as soon as I got home, just to get all of that holiday cheer out of my ears!  That plus those particular stations playing some super cheesy sounding Christmas songs like "Little Drummer Boy," and various renditions of "Silent Night" that tends to make your conscience vibrate with pain when certain notes get overplayed and over-enunciated is enough to get a Nerd/Nerdist like myself curl into a ball and pray to whatever deities are out there to make it end RIGHT THEN before they start wishing they asked for a chainsaw that they could use to destroy the fucking radio (FM, AM, Satellite--who cares?!) in a frenzied fit of "PLEASE, JUST MAKE IT STOOOOP!"

            Not to worry!  I'm here to help you create a playlist that is not only a little indie-ish (not so much mainstream stuff), but is updated enough to not sound like it was made to put little kids to sleep or have them sing in front of their parents and siblings at their Catholic school's Christmas pageant.  I can give you options and sources for music that will not drive you insane, but instead prompt the usual rhythmic head-nodding that badasses use while they listen to their badass music!

            So, let's start with a couple of bands that people will appreciate this holiday season--as long as it got played a lot more!  (I hope that those aforementioned radio stations are reading this blog post!)

Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Definition of Badass Christmas Music

            My parents and I enjoy Mannheim Steamroller because they tend to be a bit of a pioneer when it comes to doing electro-rock Christmas music.  Songs like "Celebration," and two different versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (where the comma is important to identify which is which), as well as some movie-sounding ball-busting chords of "Carol of the Bells" just making that particular song my favorite Christmas "carol".  If you don't like Steamroller, then it sounds like you're a traditionalist Christmas idiot, who believes that the Christmas holiday genre only has room for music made for kids to sing at pageants of the Nativity.  Or "Dominic the Donkey," which is one of those songs that I wish was never made to sing; I had to sing it and it just…. *shudders, violent screams of donkey-cide*  NO ITALIAN CHRISTMAS DONKEYS ALLOWED IN MY TERRITORY!  PEWPEWPEW!  #EXTERMINATE!  EXTERMINATE!!!  EXTERMINAAAATE!!!!!!!!

            Ooops!  *noms on chocolate truffles*  Soorry!  *swallows*  I went a little overboard on insanity there; it's best to keep it under a certain level, like 3.14159265358979……  (Pi for Christmas--get it?)

Anyways, if you don't like this version of Carol of the Bells, you deserve to be evicted out of my land!

And how can you not like their take on Deck the Halls?

            But, if anyone is a stickler for keeping songs up to date (like I tend to be, as long as it's not Mariah Carey butchering certain ballads with overdone vocalizations and *shuddershudder*  BEEBS being that tween magnet by making songs for the season for the sole purpose of making the record labels money), they might also enjoy Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  This is THE rock band for Christmas.  THE musical artists who should do a show in MY area providing that ticket prices are reasonable and the location is not too far from me to the point where I have to wield my imaginary driver's license and drive my imaginary car (a Lotus Elise or Bugatti Veyron--I CAN DREAM BIG!) to the location.  (Translation: I can't drive!)  Though, a TARDIS would most certainly be useful in that situation, along with some psychic paper and 2 sonic screwdrivers--one mechanical and one alcoholic.

            Nevertheless, who can say no to their version of Carol of the Bells?  The version that makes me wish I can join an orchestra of my high school peers and knock everyone's socks off with my imaginary guitar shredding and minimal piano playing!  (*adds to life list draft "Perform Carol of the Bells with TSO at High School's auditorium named after my marching band director"*)

Also, I just went and searched "Trans-Siberian Orchestra" on YouTube and came up with this tune!  Ain't it just AWESOME?!

            Even Eddie the Educator Dalek informed me that TSO is his choice of seasonal listening!  Which means either I'm awesomely psychic or TSO is just that good!

However, TSO is not everyone's cup of hot chocolate (with whipped cream and/or marshmallows) which is why I'm digging deep into the interwebs to bring you some more of the better Christmas melodies that should be appreciated; it could be techno, trance, dubstep, rock, comedy, etc!  And if my parents follow along with these suggestions, it means I'm successful and should increase my Charisma by at least 0.5 in my Character Tome!  (That's right, Dad, not everyone wants to listen to the Dr. Demento Christmas show you have on tape/CD/your computer.  Please keep it away from me this year.)

Carillon of the Bells: A Cast In Bronze Feature

            If you do not like either version of Carol of the Bells I've listed above, you might rather prefer having a bunch of bells do it properly, along with a piano, drums, bass, and perhaps a rhythm guitar line.  For that, I bring you the works of my tweep Cast In Bronze.

What's amazing is that not only is this the second traveling carillon he has (the first incarnation was, at the time, the only one in the world that could hit the road and wow people to the point where they #fansquirrel over him a little; hey, can you blame me?  I first saw him at the awesomely awesome Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire!  He performs at Musikfest EVERY YEAR!), it was mostly blind luck (mixed with circumstantial luck) that gave Frank DellaPenna the opportunity to make his "wish" come true and bring the miracles of a carillon to a modern audience.  He was even able to compete on (or perform at) the show America's Got Talent!

            Not only that, it seems that he's also performed at Epcot!  THAT'S DISNEY FUCKING WORLD!  (Cue Dad's Vulcan-like nerdgasm where he talks about how people who don't work for Disney can perform in the parks with a difficult "audition process", and points out that even my sister with our high school marching band was able to march in the Spectromagic parade in Disney World, before partaking in the ginormous halftime show at the Gator Bowl.)  He's just all around Nerdist awesomeness, taking his music Nerdiness and making something epic out of those skills.

The Twelve Days of Christmas That Tire Us Out

            I know you know of the tune the 12 Days of Christmas, and I know that you know that the person's true love gave to them in rich Victorian fashion, 11 Lords a'leaping, Eight maids a'milking, 5 Golden (hula-hoop) rings, and a menagerie of various exotic and expensive birds.  (I know I'm wrong!  That's because not everyone remembers all the 12 things in the right order!)  But not everyone's keen about singing how their significant other got them 364 total gifts over the course of 12 days, that, by the way, needs a shit ton of storage and upkeep and boarding and what-not.  (If you were on the Faroe Islands, it'd be 15 days of different items!  Source: Wikipedia)  Which is why I bring to you 3 hilarious variations of this song!  Not 1!  Not 2, but THREE!  First, there's the classy Bob and Doug take on the traditional tune that gets a uniquely original hippie manly twist on the original lyrics:

Ain't that classy?  "A beer….in a tree!"  (*makes mental note to get Dad's favorite beer that is not Foster's, and tie a chilled can of it to the trunk of the Christmas tree with a bow tacked on top*)

            If you're too young to know of Bob and Doug McKenzie, but are not too young to listen to the radio (which is like TV but without the pretty moving lights and Internet without the interactivity), I'm sure you've heard of the "12 Gifts of Christmas" by Allan Sherman, which is my personal favorite!  Who wouldn't want a Japanese transistor radio and calendars with the name of their insurance agent?!

I love this song!  I also crave to perform it in front of a live audience at my high school with an entire adult choir!  (*also adds to life list draft*)

            Yet, if you can't stand Christmas altogether, imagine (if you would) that it's already Boxing Day and you're singing Bob Rivers' version to yourself about the 12 Pains of Christmas and how you got through them all with the grace of a drunk Mother Theresa!

Classy!  Very classy!  I suggest you pick one and laugh your knitted socks off when it comes up on your playlist!  (If you don't like any of them, try this Indian version!)

Christmas Dubstep--Because It Ain't Cool Enough Without These Chewns!

            Ah, drum-n-bass, that genre that can also be called dubstep and furthermore piss Deadmau5 the trolltastic EDM producer off.  It's a bad sign when people's mothers gets confused about what genre is what and you have to explain the difference between techno and dubstep, but when you listen to it, it's like a temporal brain bleach that helps get the real life frustrations and the expired sounds I've described above in the intro out of your short-term memory.  Which is why I've included two songs here that should be added to every Christmas season playlist.  (If you don't know how to enjoy dubstep, try this "how to dance to dubstep if you're…" video and this other video of a child doing bassface!)

            Who said that Christmas had to be Merry?!  Tim Burton taught us that it can be Scary as well, with his stop-motion animation film The Nightmare Before Christmas!  And that is the tone I'm bringing to the Christmas playlist soundscape, by adding Hedegaard's "Scary Christmas"!  And make sure to pump up the volume on this one, enough to make your eardrums vibrate like the speakers at a rock concert!

            And why does the Little Drummer Boy have to be all properly "Pah-rum-pah-pum-pum"?  Hmm?  Why can't this kid….be a fetus with a mohawk and the mad skillz to make the beats all sick dubstep beats?  Hmm?  At one point, my dad was sampling various versions of Little Drummer Boy and one version stuck out: a dubstep version called "Little Drummer Fetus"!  If you're hitting up the EDM/EBM soundscape, you might as well add this to your playlist!

That's right, wonderful readers, feel my interwebz bass (the kind that's very hard to track down)!

Give It To Me: Straight No Chaser

            It wasn't until recent years that Straight No Chaser has brought my family fresher versions of traditional songs that we can all enjoy together!  They managed to get record deals from simply having their performances go viral on the Interwebz and since then, rocketed onto the music scene as the equally cool a capella version of the awesome Cast In Bronze!  They do stick to the music sheets, but there are songs out there where they were able to add their own twist to the music!  Here's one example: the 12 Days of Christmas!

And if you want something original, how about the equally funny but totally original Christmas Can-Can?!  It not only touches on the commercialism of Christmas but also Jewish traditions!

Some of the members of SNC also come from within my territory!  WOOHOO!  That makes Straight No Chaser my HOMEBOYS!  Lol, sort of!  But at least my parents are in possession of one legal copy of their CD and I hope to listen to it again this Christmas!  That is, in addition to the songs I'm listing here!  Get it, parents?  I don't want a repeat of traumatic childhoods or retail experiences!

Last Christmas I Gave My Listening Skill Points to Benny Benassi

            Hey, look!  It's the Bennassi clan!  You know, the Benassi Bros.?  The two cousins of the Benassis that spread out all over Europe with their badass Italian dance group and EDM production skills?  Okay, fine!  If you haven't heard of Marco "Benny" Benassi, he's like, the Neil Gaiman of music production!  (They even look alike!  :O  Le GASP!  COULD ONE BE THE CLONE OF THE OTHER?!?!?!  #nerdyconspiracies)  And if you haven't heard of the tune "Last Christmas" that Wham did previously, I suggest you get your head out from under that rock and take a listen.  I've already had to listen to it over and over and over again while working retail and I was ready to get back to hiding under that rock again from it--that is, before I heard Benny Benassi's remix ofthe tune!

It gives me hope that the Christmas soundscape isn't just jingling bells and people caroling gayly and sleigh rides throughout the Christmas-decorated village of ye olde times (or kids farting on Santa's lap--that song totally exists, readers!  Take a listen!).  Not that there's anything wrong with it.  Like I said, that scene is really not my cup of gourmet mint hot chocolate.

            Hopefully, I've given you some modern options for this holiday season.  Disclaimer: This blog post isn't the rulebook for the ultimate music playlist of all Christmas seasons ever.  Instead, it's a guide to providing a foundation of epicness that can only be completed by you.  That's right!  You can tailor-make your playlist for this holiday season!  In Morpheus terms, I've shown you the door (hallway), but only you can be the one to walk through it.

            With that said, I hope you have an excellent Christmas season this year!  And Kwanzaa!  Oh, and Happy Yule to all my Pagan readers!  If you wish to share your own (non-traditional non-mainstream) favorites, feel free to share them and I'll see about adding them onto next year's entry!