Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Traditional Christmas Songs

I love Christmas carols and Christmas songs. But as I've mentioned before, I'm not an entirely traditional type of person, even at Christmas. I like things, well, weird and different.

So I think for this year's Top 5 Favorite Traditional Christmas Carols, I'm going to pick traditional songs done in a not-so-traditional way.

So, in no particular order....

1. Silent Night

I've never seen this version of Silent Night before I started searching YouTube for examples of the carol. But I like it! The visuals are freaky, the guys look like the guys who live down the street and keep crazy hours. And pitbulls. Yet the song itself has a sweet, melancholy air that's appropriate for a song about the quiet arrival of a savior who was ultimately born to die.

2. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen

I love this version, by Barenaked Ladies, featuring Sarah McLachlan. It's a quirky Canadian take on an old English carol. The perky rhythm picks up on the hopeful lyrics, while Sarah Lachlan's haunting voice underscores the hint of melancholy in the minor key of the carol. Sorry the song cuts off abruptly at the end in the video.

3. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This particular version is performed by Enya, whose voice gives this old Christmas song a hint of skin-tingling mysticism. Appropriate, since the song's lyrics are taken from the Old Testament prophecy regarding the advent of the Messiah.

4. Carol of the Bells

Dude, it's the ukelele. And it's pretty amazing. John King plays the stew out of what looks like a kid's toy on one of the hardest songs in the Christmas repertoire.

5. O Come All Ye Faithful

I picked this particular version because I think the euphonium is a beautiful instrument. It's kin to the baritone horn, which was one of the two instruments I played in my high school band.

There are so many versions of this carol out there, including one by Twisted Sister that I almost linked to, but the video was just too strange for me. Yes, there's such a thing as too strange for me.

So, of the traditional carols out there, which are your favorites?


Kea said...

O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Of the Father's Love Begotten, The First Noel....Oh, so many! When I was growing up I used to sing (badly) in our country church choir. Even though I don't belong to any organized religion anymore, I still love the holiday music.

Oh, and I can't forget Handel's Messiah, most especially The Hallelujah Chorus. Moves me to tears. Oh, oh, and Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, which is one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. Love it.

I'm listening to Christmas carols now, actually, via on-line radio. And ear pods, so as not to drive my co-workers nuts. LOL.

Julie Miller said...

I absolutely love Christmas music!

On my Top 10 list:
1. White Christmas (I need to hear Bing sing it)
2. The First Nowell (I sing with a choir that performed a gorgeous arrangement of it)
3. Mannheim Steamroller's "Still, Still, Still" (hauntingly beautiful)
4. Gene Autry (or any group of enthusiastic kids) singing Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
5. O Holy Night (a favorite version is the super dramatic performance featuring Sandi Patti and the London Symphony)
6. What Child is This? (played it for a piano recital when I was younger--it stuck with me)
7. Ave Maria (personal family meaning)
8. We Three Kings (I associate it with my brothers and growing up)
9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (almost any version--love Charlie Brown's)
10. I don't know who does it, but there's this great comic rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas where things just get worse and worse--I love the guy who's trying to put up the lights outside and how out-of-control he is with frustration by the end of the song.

If anyone knows who that's by, please share. Makes me laugh.

lelia said...

O come O come Emmanual
What Child is This?
We Three Kings

Jemi Fraser said...

Great list - I LOVE the Barenaked Ladies. They are great in concert :)

My fave traditional is probably O Little Town of Bethlehem when it is done with those haunting harmonies. Beautiful.

Paula said...

All this music talk makes me want to go hang out with carolers. Except it's cold outside, and I don't cope well with cold in my old, arthritic age.

Kea, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring is my second favorite Bach composition (my favorite is Air on a G String). It's just beautiful.

Julie, I've never heard Mannheim Steamroller's Still, Still, Still. Something to hunt down. Yay! And thanks to you and Lelia for mentioning What Child is This. I love that song, too.

Speaking of humorous 12 Days of Christmas renditions, I've never seen anyone beat Straight No Chaser's version. In fact, I'm going to post the link to that video in a few days on my "Top 5 Non-Traditional Christmas Carols" list. ;)