Boo Mondays. Yea Music Monday!
It’s (almost) that Not Holiday known as Christmas in July, which gives stores a supposed reason for sales, Hallmark Channel a reason to air Christmas movies the entire month of July. It has been in the 90s for the last week, which feels about as far-removed as it gets from the Christmases that I’m more familiar with. I didn’t even get a warm Christmas on my Christmas vacation in California this past winter.
At Christmastime (beginning the day after Thanksgiving), I love breaking out the Christmas music. My playlist is all the traditional favorites, mixed in with some spirited remakes of the classics, as well as some fun Christmas albums. I have Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby and David Bowie (no one ever explained that one, did they?), Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Brenda Lee, Anne Murray alongside Elton John, Chicago, Hall and Oates, and Seth MacFarlane.
I wanted to choose just one Christmas song from my quirky Christmas song playlist, but I had a really hard time. And since I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I decided Christmas in July Eve was going to have to include more than one Christmas song.
I chose five.
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (What’s It Gonna Be, Santa?) – Chicago
Windy City Horns and Rock Music group Chicago followed up its 1998 Christmas album with its 2003 version, What’s It Gonna Be Santa?, by combining the tracks from the 1998 album with six additional songs. “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas (What’s It Gonna Be Santa?)” was one of these new tracks, and the first to feature guitarist (and until then backup) vocalist Keith Howland in this first lead vocal performance. I have never seen this live performance before writing this, but it is from The Today Show in 2003. I particularly love Keith singing about what everyone wants for Christmas…including himself. 🙂
And no surprise here, Keith has been a lead on songs in concert – he sings some of the Peter Cetera songs, alternating on “Old Days” with Jason Scheff until 2016.
(I wrote about Chicago’s contributions to Christmas in November 2016 over on Retroist).
December – Earth Wind and Fire
It took until (seriously) 2014 for Earth Wind and Fire to release a Christmas album. And while it sounds like the 1970s, it is epic!
In addition to all of the traditional Christmas songs, Earth Wind and Fire brought the funk with two of their songs, reworked into Christmas tunes – the aptly named “December” (sung to the tune of “September”), and…
Happy Seasons – Earth Wind and Fire
A spirited remake of “Happy Feeling.”
Earth, Wind, Fire, Funk, and Christmas. Now with more funk and soul!
Christmas Vacation – Mavis Staples
Does anyone else hear the opening chords of this song and squee?
I can’t be the only one who does!
This 1989 Mavis Staples song served as the theme for the Griswold Family Mishap Film #3, aka National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. While a song that sings of the perfect holiday, it definitely plays for irony. Because as much as we wanted to believe this was going to be a perfect Christmas movie, it stars the Griswold Family. And we all know the likelihood of anything perfect when Clark Griswold is involved.
This song, on the other hand, is one of those perfect Christmas songs for your perfect Christmas playlist.
And what list would be complete without Hall and Oates hosting a Christmas party where G.E. Smith dresses up as “Grandma”?
Jingle Bell Rock – Hall and Oates
This was yet another song from my Retroist collection of holiday-themed articles, as well an article on the “literal” version, both written in 2015. Daryl and John exchange presents, greet their guests, and have the coolest Christmas party this side of the early 1980s.
There are actually two versions of this song – this is the version Daryl sang, and this is the version John sang…
I had no idea.
Seriously, until this exact moment that I’m writing this, I’ve only heard the Daryl Hall version. The John Oates version is awesome and you better believe I will be adding this one to my playlist.
And for my final “quirky” Christmas song…
Step Into Christmas – Elton John
I love this song, but didn’t realize until I was in college that it was Elton John. Not sure if it was a naive ear for music, but I swore this was Billy Joel.
From 1973 and coupled with a B-Side Christmas tune, “Ho, Ho, Ho (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas),” both songs were recorded during a quickie recording session at London’s Morgan Studios, and mixed to sound like one of Phil Spector’s 1960s songs. Despite the circumstances leading to recording it, or the sound it tries to emulate, this song is amazing. It is so much fun, so not Christmasy, yet so festive. It is so Elton John circa 1970s.
And there you have it, your quirky Christmas playlist for your Christmas in July, as compiled by me. From my playlist.
I know it isn’t going to be Christmas for another five months, but since there (allegedly) is such a thing as Christmas in July, then I guess we have to celebrate it here.
After all, I am the one that celebrated a holiday for geeks, a Star Wars-theme holiday, and writes about forgotten sitcom Christmas episodes for my actual Christmas articles.
I’m not above anything at this point.
Have a great Monday/Christmas in July Eve!