Friday, December 12, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part VI.

And we're here!  Did you know today is also National Ugly Sweater Day?  Therefore, I write this to you wearing my ugly Christmas sweater.  It's my top 10 favorite Christmas songs, which means there is only one more Friday until Christmas!  That also means my finals are starting next week.  Not really though because some of my professors like to give finals early, so I'm already done with my final project in political science and my final and final project in computer science.  Only three more classes to go.

But, we're here for one thing, and that is Christmas music.  Here are some great Christmas songs that just didn't make the cut (many brought to my attention over Thanksgiving break):
  • "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" - Josh Groban
  • "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" - Frank Sinatra
  • "Winter's Dream (Brandon's Song)" - Kelly Clarkson
  • "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - John Mellencamp
  • "Winter Wonderland" - Johnny Mathis
  • "Frosty the Snowman" - Jimmy Durante
  • "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" - Elmo & Patsy
  • "Wonderful Christmastime" - Paul McCartney
  • "Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Band Aid
  • "Santa Tell Me" - Ariana Grande
Now, on with my favorite 10 Christmas songs.

10) "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Happy Holidays" - Andy Williams


Maybe it should have been called the top 11, but until last week, I was unaware that these were two different songs because they sound so similar.  They're upbeat and basically encompass all that is Christmas.  If Andy Williams doesn't come to mind when you think Christmas, you're probably doing it wrong.

9) "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Bruce Springsteen

Another Christmas classic here.  Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band tackle this song dating back as far as 1934.  With the rasp in his voice as well as the iconic saxophone solo by Clarence Clemens, this makes for a can't miss Christmas classic.

8) "I'll Be Home for Christmas" - Josh Groban

A lot of the songs on this list tend to share a common theme of being with your family during the holidays.  However, none of them amount to the power of Josh Groban's version of "I'll be Home for Christmas."  First of all, he just has the voice to sing anything.  What makes this version truly stand apart from the other version for me are the soldiers' messages throughout the song.  It really makes you stop to be thankful that you can live in a country as great as America and celebrate Christmas with your family without fear because there are brave men and women sacrificing their holiday with their family in order to protect us, and that is a debt that cannot be repaid.  

If I could just digress for one last time.  It truly saddens me that some radio stations have edited out the soldiers when they play the song.  Whether it is because we are no long heavily in Iraq or whatever the reason, I still feel it does a great injustice not only to the song but mostly to the brave men and women who are still overseas and unable to be with their families on Christmas.  No matter whether we are in a time of war or peace, there will always be soldiers that will not be able to be with their families for the holiday, and therefore it deeply troubles me that when we are not in a time of war, we just forget about the men and women who are protecting us.  It is not right.  It is an injustice.

7)  "This Christmas" - Christina Aguilera

If you haven't been able to tell from other songs on the countdown, I love a big band arrangement.  Bring on the trumpets!  Pair that with Christina Aguilera's outstanding voice and you have a match made perfect in Christmas heaven.

6) "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" - Thurl Ravenscroft

Oh, how I love the Grinch.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas IS the best Christmas movie, despite what anyone says.  (Followed closely behind by It's a Wonderful Life.)  What makes the movie so great, though, is the song.  If you ever need to insult someone, this should be your playbook.  I find people don't know the words to this song, so here are just some of the few great comparisons made:

  • "You're as cuddly as a cactus"
  • "You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel"
  •  "Your brain is full of spiders"
  • "I wouldn't touch you with a 39 1/2 foot pole"
  • "You have termites in your smile"
  • "Your heart's a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots"
  • "You're a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce"
  • "Your soul is an appalling dump heap, overflowing the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots"
I think the song sets a record not only for Christmas songs, but for all songs in history, for the most adjectives and adverbs ever used.  It probably ranks pretty high, if not on top, for the most metaphors and similes in a song.

5) "Believe" - Josh Groban

It's the song that has the power to make you feel like a kid again.  Whenever I hear the sleigh bells at the beginning, I am instantly transported back to  a mindset of my five year-old self.

4) "Oh Holy Night"

We're once again at the point where I give you a multiplicity of interpretations to choose from because almost every great artist has decided to cover this powerful Christmas song.

            Celine Dion

            Christina Aguilera

            Josh Groban

            Carrie Underwood

            Kelly Clarkson

Personally, I prefer either the Kelly Clarkson or Celine Dion version.  I think it's because of how simplistic the arrangements of the song were kept.  Therefore, the song's arrangement mirrors the humble birth of Jesus in a manger.  It's one of those moments that is meant to be kept simple and as if everything were just right in the world for that moment.  However, if you prefer the big arrangement, Christina Aguilera's gospel take is certain the way you should go.

3) "All I Want for Christmas is You" - Mariah Carey

This Christmas classic has now been reigning at the top of the Christmas charts for the past two decades.  When the snow starts to fall, the song is inescapable and for good reasons.  First of all, it's an uptempo pop song that puts you in a good mood.  It's got your recognizable music box intro, sleigh bells, chimes, background harmonies, and the distinctive Mariah Carey whistle notes.  With "All I Want for Christmas is You," they were able to craft a signature Christmas song using a perfected pop formula.  Well done.  Well done.

2) "Underneath the Tree" - Kelly Clarkson

            the recorded version

            or the music video which features the live version

Last year, Kelly Clarkson set out to cement herself as a figure for many Christmases yet to come by tackling some of the biggest Christmas songs while also penning a few of her own.  Using the same formula as Mariah Carey almost 20 years earlier, Clarkson scored big on "Underneath the Tree."  The song reached #1 on the Mediabase's Holiday Songs Chart, #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts, and #8 on Billboard's Holiday songs chart.  Although, what could you expect from a song with a music box opening, sleigh bells, an amazing drum beat, background harmonies, a sax solo, a bells solo, and those signature Kelly Clarkson riffs the last time through the chorus.

Thanks to Spotify statistics, I can confirm this is my most listened to Christmas song of the year.

1) "My Grown Up Christmas List" - Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson, Amy Grant, it wouldn't have matter if Kelly Clarkson would have never recorded a version of this song because the message is so great.  (Except, don't listen to the Michael Buble version.  There's almost no feeling in his voice ever.)  The song perfectly reflects the transition from a child's Christmas to an adult's Christmas.  In times when people are so materialistic, this song is able to move the focus to what we should really want at Christmas.  My favorite lines are "But heaven only knows that packages and bows can never heal a hurting human soul" and "Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth."  Therefore, I think it's important that we heed the song's message and keep ourselves in check this Christmas.

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list.

Though probably predictable, I hope you truly enjoy this song and all the other songs as much as I do.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part V.

We've reached my top 20 favorite Christmas songs, which is really hard for me to believe because that means there are only two more Fridays after today until Christmas.  This is when the list starts to get really good, which means if you try to change the song I'm most likely going to make a passive aggressive comment because I love these songs so much.  You can definitely listen to these songs more than once in a short period of time.

20) "Step into Christmas" - Elton John

I grew up basically listening to this song almost nonstop during the holiday season.  I think it is because my mom is a physical fitness instructor, and the song has a good tempo to play in workouts during Christmas time.  I also think it's just because all of Elton John's songs are classics that will probably live on for all eternity.  Either way, you cannot doubt this jam puts you in the holiday mood.

19) "Greatest Time of Year" - Aly & AJ

Let's take you back to my childhood.  Disney had actually produced some acts that experienced longevity in their careers.  Aly & AJ was one of those acts.  This Christmas song was used in the soundtrack for The Santa Claus 3.  Besides guitar riffs and an excellent drum beat, there is one thing that makes this song: the bells in the chorus (especially the last one).  When it comes to Christmas, I'm like that SNL skit with more cowbell, only I want more Christmas bells.  (It seems to be a pattern with this list as one of the top songs features a Christmas bells solo - hint hint.)  Either way, I believe this song has been greatly overlooked considering the success they experienced with it when it first came out.

18) "A Holly Jolly Christmas" - Burl Ives

Another classic Christmas song straight out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  I don't understand how you could not be put in a better mood after hearing this song.  It's one of those joyous Christmas songs you could hear over and over again.

17) "The Christmas Cannon" - The Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Sadly, this will be the last song from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra on the list.  However, what a song to go out on.  It shows you that the Orchestra doesn't need its wailing electric guitar to create an awesome Christmas song.  All they need are their strings and a children's choir.  Fair warning though (and you people know who you are): unless you are listening to this song alone, you better not be singing along.  Don't ruin this perfectly crafted song.  I don't care how good of a singer you are, it just doesn't sound like it fits, and you ruin the song for everyone else.

16) "Deck the Halls" - Mannheim Steamroller

If there were a Christmas song you were supposed to play first, I think this would be it.  It just has that great introduction that sounds like the beginning of a playlist and this song is a classic known by everyone.  The horns are another one of my favorite instruments of the season and greatly shine in this rendition.

15) "Celebrate Me Home" - Kenny Loggins

Give me that soulful voice that makes this song.  This is for all of those coming home for the holidays.  (I'll be home in two weeks mom.)  After seeing people stranded in airports and on campus last Christmas due to storms, I can say I am truly thankful that I am able to get home for the holidays and celebrate with all of my family.

If I could just digress for just one moment here and you not think I'm cheesy.  I always get asked every year what I want for Christmas, and every year I have no idea what to say.  I live a pretty frugal life.  Just ask anyone who knows me well.  As Mariah Carey would say, "I don't care about the present underneath the Christmas tree."  What I do value about Christmas is being home with my family.  As I will tell anybody, Christmas is my favorite holiday.  End of story.  Not only because we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but also because I get to see and spend time with almost my entire extended family.

What other holiday is there when I get to celebrate Christmas with my mom's side of the family on Christmas Eve and then also see my dad's side of the family Christmas day?  I get to be with my entire family within a 24-hour period.  Can you really put a price on that?  The economics student in me says yes, but the returning college sophomore says no.

Therefore, I guess you could say the greatest Christmas present of all would be my train ticket home because that is where I'm going to get the most consumer surplus from the holidays.  (I'm studying for an econ final.)  I just want to be home with my family for Christmas.  I don't need electronics, or clothes, or anything else.  (Although money is always great for a college student.)  I just want to be home with my family because that is the greatest gift I can get.

14) "Silent Night" - Josh Groban

Oh, such a great Christmas song and such a great version.  I don't think any other can compare to Josh Groban's rendition here.  It's one of the best formulas for a Christmas song: great singer + piano + choir + strings = Christmas classic.  There's almost no way to describe this song except for that fact that it makes you forget all that is going on around you, even just for a few minutes.

13) "Feliz Navidad" - Jose Feliciano

There are two phrases non-Spanish speaking people know: "mi casa es su casa" and "feliz navidad."  However, this was not always true for me, which brings us to our flashback.

Flashback: I was a kid who didn't know Spanish because this is America.  Therefore, when I was younger, I had no idea what this man was saying in his Christmas song.  To me, it sounded like he was saying "fleas on my dog," and I wondered why someone would be sing about fleas on his dog in a Christmas song.  That's when I got my first and only Spanish lesson.  Merry Christmas everyone, or should I say "feliz navidad?"

12) "Veni Veni" or "O Come, O Come Emanuel"

This is where I cannot make my mind up on a version of the song, so I let you pick from a list of different, but awesome, interpretations of this song.


            Kelly Clarkson

            Mannheim Steamroller

Mannheim Steamroller's version is probably my favorite.  I love how it builds to that swell of sound and then you have the horns again.  Sadly, this is Mannheim Steamroller's last song on the countdown.

Personally, I think "O Come, O Come Emanuel" or "Veni Veni" is the most overlooked Christmas song.  When it comes to religious Christmas songs, people are always gung-ho about "Silent Night" and "Oh Holy Night," but I think because of this, "O Come, O Come Emanuel" is greatly overlooked for how great and how powerful of a song it really is.

11) "Run Run Rudolph" - Kelly Clarkson

To be perfectly honest, if Kelly Clarkson did not put this fresh spin on an old song, it would have never made the countdown.  I just never liked the Chuck Berry version.  However, update it by adding some electric guitars, a big band sound, and some Kelly Clarkson riffs, and it sounds like a completely different, fresh song to me.

Can you  believe that next week will already be my top 10 favorite Christmas songs of all time?  Where has time gone?  Seriously, though.

Here's some teasers for you:

  • A Christmas legend's two songs will share the number 10 spot because I forgot he had two different songs.  They just sound so similar to me.
  • We'll get a song from my favorite Christmas movie.
  • There just may be a little Mariah Carey Christmas classic.
  • Santa Claus may be coming to town, but by who?
  • As previously hinted at, one of the top songs will feature a Christmas bells solo.
  • The number one song may seem very unpredictable, yet very predictable.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part IV.

Another Friday, another ten of my favorite Christmas songs.  We've reached the top 30, which means if you turn it off, you may get a deathly stare for a few seconds.  (Unless we've already heard the song a few times already.)

30) "O Come All Ye Faithful" - Britt Nicole

One of my favorite Christmas classics.  Britt Nicole puts a modern spin on an age old song that works very well.

29) "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" - Gayla Peevey

This song goes out to that annoying kid who continually and persistently asks for that unobtainable present for Christmas.

28) "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" - Bob Rivers

This is for all those pessimists at Christmas time or those who just like a sarcastic song.  Everyone identifies with at least part of this one.

27) "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" - John Lennon

What would Christmas be without this John Lennon classic?  It's the perfect song not only for the holiday, but also to reflect on your life for the last year.

26) "What Christmas Means to Me" - Stevie Wonder

All I think about when I hear this song is the scene from "Elf" when they are running through the department store and jumping all over the bed.

25) "Hark! The Harold Angels Sing" - Vince Guaraldi Trio

All I can think about when I hear this song is the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas where they are all standing around the tree singing.  However, the funniest part is when they all breath together.

24) "Carol of the Bells" - David Foster

I may or may not have jammed out to this one winter in which I didn't realize how fast I was going on 208.  ...I mean, mom, I always drive the speed limit on 208.

23) "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - Mannheim Steamroller 

You would be surprised how much faster I can get from class to class listening to Mannheim Steamroller songs like this.  It shaves almost a minute off my walking time from one end of campus to the other.  The less time I spend outside in the frozen tundra also puts me in a merrier Christmas mood.

22) "Linus and Lucy" - Vince Guaraldi Trio

All I can think about when I hear this song are the peanuts characters dancing.  Oh, how I wish dancing would go back to that.  Enough with this twerking and grinding.

21) "My Favorite Things" - Kelly Clarkson

Flashback:  I remember the last family gathering we had before I went off to college for my freshman year.  We made my favorite dishes for before I went, and therefore my aunts started singing this song.  (I noticed my aunts sing often in these flashbacks.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What is There to be Thankful for?

Every year in late November, we are all asked to think of reasons we should be thankful.  However, what is there to be thankful for?

Let’s recap all that has happened this year.
·         Large chunks of Obamacare went into effect, of which the American people overwhelming disapprove of the legislation.
·         The United States has continually been tortured by the polar vortex. 
·         Flight 370 is still to be found. 
·         Stabbings and shootings have plagued American schools throughout the year. 
·         Vladimir Putin invades Crimea, a valuable port area of the Ukraine, as world leaders fear another Cold War. 
·         The VA Scandal happened. 
·         A psychotic misogynist from an affluent family goes on a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California, before killing himself.  
·         The Obama administration trades five high-ranking terrorist for a deserter, only for the terrorists to return to the front lines of battle. 
·         The world watches in horror as ISIS rises to dominance in parts of the Middle East. 
·         Malaysia Airlines has another accident as one of their flights is shot down over Ukrainian airspace. 
·         The outbreak of Ebola in Africa grows. 
·         The United States watches as Ferguson, Missouri, burns like a documentary on the 1960s after many believe Officer Darren Wilson had racially charged motives when defending himself against Michael Brown. 
·         Two of America’s beloved comedians, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, die within a month of each other. 
·         Americans find out the cloud is not as secure as they thought it was when celebrity nudes hit the web. 
·         Citizens do not feel a recovery.  They feel their government is dysfunctional and uncooperative, and they fear for America’s state in international politics.
·         Most importantly, however, Americans are tired of Frozen.  The fans need to just let it go.

With all that has happened, what is there to be thankful for?

Well, the news is fantastic at hyping everything wrong with the world.  However, let’s look at just some of positive headlines that you may have missed this past year.

That is just a very small sample of the newsworthy positive stories from this year.  Now, imagine your own life.  You have a roof over your head, family, friends, etc.  There is so much good in this world.  There is so much to be thankful for this year.  Just because the news does not portray it that way does not mean life is as depressing as the eight o'clock news hour makes it sound.

You do not have to look too far to see that there is really so much to be thankful for.  I'm thankful I was able to get home for Thanksgiving to be with my family, that I am able to receive a great education, that I live in the greatest country on earth, in which I have so much freedom, and so much more.

Just because there are things wrong with the world does not mean that the world is wrong.  It is all how you perceive it, and I see it that there is so much good that outweighs the bad.  There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

It reminds me of the opening scene from Love Actually.  (Don't get technical and tell me it's a Christmas movie.  The message still applies.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Mob Hysteria.

Yesterday night, the Grand Jury released their decision as to whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson.  To protesters’ dismay, the Grand Jury decided not to indict the officer over the death of 18 year-old Michael Brown.

I have written twice on the case in Ferguson here and here.  My main theme with this case has been not jumping to conclusions.  However, this was clearly disregarded by America, and that is the subject I wish to target with this.

We, as the general public, still do not have all or even most of the information involved in this case, and especially back in August, we certainly did not have enough information to make an informed decision on this case.  However, this did not stop America from choosing sides days into the incident.

First, it was the black community.  I honestly do not understand how a group can so adamantly stand behind someone so guilty just because he shares the same skin color – see O. J. Simpson.  It is almost cult-like.  Just because some someone shares the same skin color as you does not mean you need to defend them – see Jeffrey Dahmer and Casey Anthony.  Even if you want to make a cultural argument – see Jimmy Hoffa.

Then, the black community would be joined by liberals the same time many conservatives would jump on the side of Officer Darren Wilson.  Remember, there is almost no evidence out at this time.
Looting, protests, and violent encounters occurred on the streets of Ferguson as the world watched the pot boil over in the town.  Yet, it seemed as if it was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy  due to the media.  When you concentrate so much attention and cameras on one town in a country expecting something to happen, something is sure to happen.

Needless to say, the incident was not aided when race hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson fired Ferguson up even more.  Then, Eric Holder sent 50 FBI agents to help investigate the incident, an unprecedented number.  Not even one investigator was sent to look into the VA Scandal.  Remember that?

Fast forward now to November 24th.  America had been told all day long that this decision by the Grand Jury would be released at 9 P.M. EST.  Therefore, the protesters were out in great numbers waiting for the decision.  However, it was not the decision they were wanting.  Now, riots have ensued in the streets with reports of shots being fired.

More important was the statement delivered by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.  He set many of the facts straight and told us how the Grand Jury came to their decision.  We found out that Officer Wilson did know about the strong-armed robbery Michael Brown had just committed.  We found out that Michael Brown was at least partially inside the officer’s car, and we finally discovered from three separate autopsy reports that Michael Brown was not shot in the back by Officer Darren Wilson, but as he was charging at the officer.

From the footage of seeing how large this 18 year-old is, 6’4” and 300 pounds, as well as what he was capable from that video of the strong-armed robbery.  It is completely possible to see how Officer Wilson would have been acting in self-defense, even if this teenager were unarmed.  It is a tragedy, but the Grand Jury had all this information and more, which led them to their decision not to indict Officer Wilson.

In days coming up, we will learn more on this case as more information rolls out.  However, for people on both sides of the issue, the information will not matter.  They are so emphatic, on both sides, that they know the true story that they will not even wait for the information surrounding the case to roll in.  It just so happens that those who choose Officer Wilson’s side chose correctly out of the 50-50 odds.

The protests will ensue.  The demonstrations will continue.  The unrest will not cease, and no matter how many facts you can provide from professionals who investigated this case, the radicals will be led by passion and emotion rather than logic and reason.

I am honestly frightened to go back to campus for these last few weeks of the semester because I have seen the irrational protesters on campus.  I have never been afraid to speak my mind on any issue.  I am afraid to speak up on this one because of the videos I have seen from this group and how mob-like the mentality is. 

Groups that act in such a mob-like fashion should be ashamed of themselves.  It just shocks me how on one of the highest-ranked universities there can be so many individuals who will not respond to rational, fact-based arguments, but rather sob story, fear-mongering rhetoric.   These would be the same people who would say I am irrational when I would debate over controversial topics such as “climate change.”  Yet, if anyone tried to hold a rational discussion on this topic, I can guarantee it would turn into a situation where one side shouts accusations such as “white supremacy,” “racist,” and “#BlackLivesMatter.”  This would only turn it into a rally-like protest.

My only prayers would be for the family who lost their son and that America quit jumping to conclusion on matters in which there is no evidence.  We need to be a nation of critical thinkers, not choosing sides based on skin color.

The media should be ashamed for fueling this fire.  The only reason they did this was that it was a white police officer and a black teen, whom we have now discovered was not the gentle giant he was made out to be.   Reporting on a story of supposed racism can almost immediately increased ratings.  Congratulations new across America.  You officially have put Ferguson residents in more danger than they would have possibly been exposed to because you wanted to increase your ratings.

Finally, I cannot take this one incident as a national issue.  There are not blacks being shot down by white cops the way the news would have you believe.  In fact, 93% of people murdered are murdered by someone who shares the same race.  Do not believe the radical hysterics.  This is a case all on its own and does not resemble the nation as a whole.

Yes, black lives matter.  I would challenge you to find someone in America who does not agree with that statement.  In fact, the leading cause of death in the African American Community since 1973 has been abortion.  How about not only black lives mattering but also all lives mattering?  Even the unborn.

As for Michael Brown, I do feel sympathy for his family, but only so much.  Obviously, if your son is committing a strong-armed robbery at the age of 18, you have failed at your job as parents.  Maybe if his family had taught Michael Brown how to behave as a responsible member of society, not committing strong-armed robbery and then walking down the middle of the street only to get into a physical fight with a person of authority, this incident would have never happened.

Friday, November 21, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part III.

We've reached my top 40 favorite Christmas songs, which are basically means if you change the station when one of these comes on, I may mumble under my breath or roll my eyes.  (Unless, of course, we've just recently heard the song.)

40)  "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - Brenda Lee

Any time there's a saxophone solo like this in a song, you know it must be a Christmas hit.  It's definitely one of the most popular Christmas songs, but I think all the radio airplay it gets has made the song overbearing during the holidays at times.

39) "The Christmas Song" - Nat King Cole

This song was made to the fire at Christmas.  I mean the first line basically sums up the entire song.

38)  "Do You Hear What I Hear?" - Whitney Houston

These ten songs can certainly be classified in one way: big powerhouse vocals.  This is the first of these.  It's an age old classic, and with one of the best singers ever lending her voice, the song is made that much better.

37) "O Tannenbaum" - Vince Guaraldi Trio

How could you not possibly love another Charlie Brown classic?

Flashback:  I cannot hear this song anymore without hearing my dad's changed lyrics, "Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree/  I feel on you at ten to three," which immediately reminds me of the last year my family got a real Christmas tree.  The year the tree fell over onto my siblings, and they emerged from under the tree with pine needles everywhere.  Therefore, I cannot hear this song without laughing.

36) "Ave Maria" - Celine Dion

Remember when I said powerhouse vocals?  This is one of the most beautiful Catholic hymns.  Unfortunately, it's usually ruined at mass.  However, this version by Celine Dion reminds you how truly great the hymn is.

35) "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - Mariah Carey

It's uptempo; it's fun; it's not a downer despite the theme of the song.  Mariah Carey is able to deliver a powerhouse vocal on this track unable to be matched by almost anyone.  My favorite part of the song is at the end when she's doing the runs and switches from from her upper octave immediately into the lower one.

34) "Every Christmas" - Kelly Clarkson

It's bluesy and soulful.  Interesting fact about this song: the choir sound of the backing vocal was created by Clarkson harmonizing with herself in different tones of voices until they developed the sound of the choir.

33) "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - Gene Autry

It's quite the classic, especially when it's been around for so long elementary school children have added their own lyrics in between the original song.  Another song I feel is slightly overplayed through.

32) "Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Rock meets orchestra meets Christmas.  This song is one of those songs where I don't think you can find a person who doesn't like it.  (It's import to establish here that I distinguish this song as an original and not either "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" or "Carol of the Bells.")

31) "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

There are way too many excellent versions of this song to pick just one, so I'll give you some options.

              Frank Sinatra
             Kelly Clarkson

              Rod Stewart

              Christina Aguilera

No matter who delivers this classic, the message comes across loud and clear.  It's about enjoying your holiday with family.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Grown Up Christmas (Songs) List: Part II.

It's Friday again, meaning it's time to count down another ten songs in my top 60 favorite Christmas songs countdown.  This time, we're going 50 through 41.

50) "Dominick the Donkey" - Lou Monte

If you're Italian, you know what song I'm talking about.  If you're not, you're probably asking yourself what in the world is Dominick the donkey?  Well, since the reindeer cannot climb the hills of Italy, Santa needs the help of Dominick to deliver presents to the children of Italy.  The song is sure to get stuck in your head.  Whether that is a good or bad thing probably depends on whether you have Italian heritage or not.

49) "Traditions of Christmas" - Mannheim Steamroller

I'm a sucker for these kinds of songs.  It's the type of song that so stereotypically reminds me of Christmas - wrapping up in a blanket, next to a fire, snow falling gently outside, and looking at the tree.

48)  "Christmas Time is Here" - Vince Guaraldi Trio

How can you not like this song?  It's another sucker song about snow falling, and it kicks off one of best Christmas classics of all time.

47) "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming" - Mannheim Steamroller

When done properly, this can be one of the most beautiful Christmas songs.  When done improperly, this can turn into an utter disaster.

Flashback:  It's Eighth grade all-star band and we were given this song to play - only it was in a key way too high for any normal Eighth grade trumpet player to reach.  When it came time for the performance, which was recorded, we absolutely murdered this song (and not in a good way).  The saddest part is that I still have a recording of it somewhere in my house.

46) "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day" - Celine Dion

I love the meaning behind this song.  Christmas should not be limited to a day.  Christmas should not be limited to a season.  The themes of Christmas, such as family, should be cherished throughout the entire year.  Plus, the song is also sung by Celine Dion.  Love the raspy run in the last chorus.

45)  "All I Want for Christmas is You" - Vince Vance & The Valiants

Don't worry, we haven't reached the Mariah Carey classic, yet.  The problem that potentially held this song back as years went by was sharing the name.  It's almost impossible to find on YouTube without knowing the artist.  However, the the raspiness of her voice, mixed with the country guitars make for a great Christmas ballad.

44) "Wrapped in Red" - Kelly Clarkson

Say hello to Kelly Clarkson.  You'll be seeing her (as well as Josh Groban and Mannheim Steamroller) a lot because I love her Christmas album.  The title track for her album was penned about her now husband, and the song will be release this Christmas season as well as receiving a music video.  Keep an eye out for that.

43) "Wizards in Winter" - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Rock and orchestra together.  You've gotta love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  With all the light shows that go with this song, it's become a staple holiday classic.

42) "Thankful" - Josh Groban

Another very lyric heavy song, we need to see that during this season there is so much to be thankful for.  Maybe this should be considered the one and only Thanksgiving song.

41) "Snow in California" - Ariana Grande

I can honestly say I don't know the struggle of wanting snow in California.  Mine is more like... oh please God, don't let Rochester get pounded by a snowstorm and get 10 feet of snow and I can't get home for Christmas.  Tell you want, Ariana.  If you really don't want him to leave, buy a winter house in Rochester, NY.  He won't be going anywhere for Christmas.  You can ask the California students about their travel experiences home for Christmas last year.

The problem with people from California, and just people in the South in general, when it comes to snow is that they think snow is the fluffy white stuff that falls ever so perfectly like all the movies.  They look at it as if we're in a gently shaken snow globe all the time.  The reality of the matter is: instead of Rochester being in a gently shaken snow globe, we decided to give our snow globe to Darla from Finding Nemo.