Top 10 lists present variety
Thursday, December 7, 2006Here's a list of all submissions for The Register-Mail's Top Ten Christmas Songs.
Tom Martin, Editor
1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - The Pretenders
Bulletin: Chrissie Hynde absolutely nails this song, and others can stop recording it. The soft wash of guitars is the perfect accompaniment for Hynde's content yet somber vocal.
2. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
Elvis wraps this up with cool, and the background singers provide the ribbons and bows. Thanks, King.
3. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - U2
Longing, despair and Christmas never sounded so good.
4. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
This is Americana circa 1957. Beam me back, Bobby.
5. Christmas in the City - Mary J. Blige
Love the melody and vocals. The song is silky with a little thump.
7. White Christmas - The Drifters
Hats off to Bing, but I'd rather hang with The Drifters on this one. What a blast!
8. Christmas Time is Here - The Vince Guaraldi Trio
It's difficult to choose just one from the Peanuts gang special, but this one ushers in the season best for me.
9. Let It Snow - Dean Martin
The coolest of the Rat Pack, I could hear Deano sing "corn for poppin' "all day long.
10. Silver and Gold - Burl Ives
I can't explain it. The song gets me all verklempt.
Sharon Trotter-Martin, Entertainment Panelist
1. Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) - U2
Bono and company turn the holiday blues into joyful rock perfection.
2. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
This song avoids all sugary sentimentality and offers a shot of melancholy instead.
3. Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid
More than just a charity throwaway, this memorable tune challenges us with the poignant reminder, "Well, tonight thank God it's them instead of you" - a message just as applicable to Africa today, unfortunately, as it was in 1984.
4. Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John Lennon
The wistful, reflective opening line, "So this is Christmas, and what have you done?" gets me every time.
5. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Johnny Mercer/Margaret Whiting
Though he doesn't sing the version I listed, this song has a cool, boozy Dean Martinesque swagger.
6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - The Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
Until I heard this version by BNL, I had no idea how much fun this classic hymn could be.
7. Jingle Bells - Brian Setzer Orchestra
The Brian Setzer Orchestra managed to turn a song I had never enjoyed much into one of my new favorites.
8. White Christmas - The Drifters
Bing's version may be the classic, but The Drifters' version is a lot of fun.
9. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
When I hear Brenda Lee's voice, I imagine the singer of this song to be a waitress at a midnight truck stop, serving pie and calling her customers "hon."
10. The Christmas Wish - Kermit the Frog
Yes, yes, it's sung by a muppet, but this song, one of my childhood favorites, captures the meaning of Christmas better than any I've ever heard.
Amelia Flood, Intern
1. Christmas Bells - John Gorka
While other songs urge humanity to look for peace, like John Lennon's "Happy Christmas," this song, based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1864 poem, still gently resonates with the season's longing for peace felt by Americans during the Civil War and today as its sons and daughters fight overseas.
2. Christmas Time is Here - theme from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Vince Guaraldi
While mellow and soothing, this song doesn't get stuck in your head for 18 hours on end. It makes a person want to kick back with a plate of cookies and watch the Peanuts one more time.
3. God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
I heard this upbeat version of the old English carol that incorporates brilliant harmonies, an off-beat swing, and strains of "We Three Kings," on a radio station while home a couple winters ago. In the words of the DJ playing it, Vic Purcelli, "I don't know why, but this is just a great song."
4. White Christmas 1942- Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby crooning equals Christmas time and who doesn't like a white coating on the world come Christmas day?
5. Christmas Sarajevo - TransSiberian Orchestra
Heavy metal meets orchestra meets Christmas carols and gives them new life after years of traditional arrangements.
6. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
Maybe it comes from being the odd one out, or maybe even the claymation Christmas special but "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer," is a classic.
7. The Chanukah Song - Adam Sandler
It wasn't Christmas time at my Catholic grade school without a nod to the dreidels, latkes and the star of "Happy Gilmore"'s lyrics.
8. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland
Anyone who grew up in St. Louis learned to love Judy Garland's singing in "Meet Me in St. Louis." It wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't forget our troubles like Garland's smooth, low rendition reminds us to.
Bill Franckey, Entertainment Panelist
1. If there ever was one song that creates that special something of Christmas, it would have to be The Christmas Song, sung by Nat King Cole.
Written on a hot July day, two songwriters Mel Torme and Bob Wells tried to stay cool by creating a winter Christmas song. Nat King Cole's Trio recorded it in 1946 but the last version of the song, recorded with the strings of Nelson Riddle has never failed to warm the month of December.
2. Ave Marie - Gosh Groban.
3. White Christmas an Irving Berlin song sung by Bing Crosby.
4. Silver Bells - Bing Crosby and Carole Richards.
5. O Holy Night - Nat King Cole.
6. O little Town Of Bethlehem - Nat King Cole
7. War is Over (So This Is Christmas) - John Lennon
Maybe Celine Dion's version is sung better but I prefer to hear John singing.
8. White Christmas - Dave and the Chipmunks
I can't believe I even thought of this one.
Dave Wynes, Entertainment Panelist
1. Carol of the Bells - Thrice
2. Baby it's Cold Outside - Dean Martin
3. Santa Drives a Hotrod - Brian Setzer Orchestra-
4. I'll Be Home for Christmas - Bing Crosby
5. Step Into Christmas - Elton John
6. My Favorite Things - Me First and the Gimme Gimme's
7. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
8. The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky
9. Winter Wonderland - Diana Krall
10. Feliz Navidad - Voodoo Glow Skulls-
John Henderson, Entertainment Panelist
1. Silent Night - John Denver and The Muppets
The combination of John Denver's crystal clear voice and the Muppets' childlike innocence turn this simple, beautiful song into an all-time classic. The history of the song spoken by Denver at the beginning perfectly sets the stage for a truly rare listening experience.
2. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
I think it's the combination of two of the best ever that makes this song great. Written by Mel Torme and sung by Nat King Cole, everyone knows that when they hear this song, it's Christmas.
3. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Snow falling outside the window, curling up in front of a roaring fire with loved ones, sipping from a great big cup of hot chocolate and listening to this song is my idea of a perfect winter night.
4. Christmas Time is Here (vocal) -The Peanuts Kids - A Charlie Brown Christmas
Watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was a yearly tradition when I was growing up. This song brings back those childhood feelings. Is anyone else craving some Zingers from Dolly Madison?
5. Scarlet Ribbons - Harry Belafonte - Scarlet Ribbons
This may not be a "traditional" Christmas song, but the story and sentiment of this song always put me in the holiday mood.
6. All I Want for Christmas - Ray Charles
The smooth vocals of Ray Charles fill you with warm and cozy feelings about spending time with family and friends over the holidays.
7. Christmas Is All Around - Billy Mack (Bill Nighy)
Love Actually is one of my favorite Christmas movies and this song plays a major role in the film. Watch one of the many showings of this film on TV and you will be singing this song for hours afterward.
8. Mele Kalikimaka - Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters
The opposite of "White Christmas," this song is the perfect remedy for when the snow is too deep, the air is too cold and the nights are too long.
9. O Little Town Of Bethlehem - Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio
A traditional Christmas song set to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals. It's amazing how well the lyrics fit the music and it gives a whole new mood to this telling of the Christmas Story.
10. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
This is a quirky, fun Christmas song from a quirky, fun early '80s band. You've probably heard this song more than you think if you've done any holiday shopping in major department stores.
Paul Marasa, Entertainment Panelist
1. The Christmas Song
Mel Torme wrote this masterpiece, and I have a live recording in which you can hear the cocktail glasses clinking while Mel walks through the tune like lovers in the snow. (Honorable Mention: Nat "King" Cole's "definitive" version)
2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
This is a no-brainer; Bing Crosby introduced it, and owns it, crooning all the way.
3. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
Bing takes white while Elvis delivers pure blues-a-billy gold, with the kind of vocal gymnastics only E. could get away with.
4. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee gives it all she's got, and for Little Miss Dynamite that's sayin' plenty.
5. Es ist ein Ros entspungen
My favorite religious Christmas song, after O Holy Night (and I do have a great Chieftains/Ricki Lee Jones cover of that one; 10 is a tough number). The choral group Chanticleer affords Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming its solemn due.
6. Silver Bells
Not a great song, but Booker T. and the MG's make it bounce in jazz-blues syncopation. Makes me wanna shop.
7. Jingle Bells
A song everyone knows, made bilingually jolly by Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender and amigos in a version that flies raucously all the way down the hill, concertinas flashing.
8. Merry Christmas, Baby
Otis Redding, Elvis, Springsteen and others have done it justice, but Chuck Berry brings just the right note of sly cheer to this steamiest of Christmas songs.
9. I'll Be Home for Christmas
Tony Bennett takes this essentially wistful soldier-abroad standard and makes it snap to in a live performance on the old Jon Stewart Show on MTV.
10. Auld Lang Syne
Technically not a Christmas song, but what better way to wrap up the holidays than with Guy Lombardo?
Kyle Varnold, Entertainment Panelist
1. I'll be Home for Christmas - Frank Sinatra
2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
3. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
4. O'Holy Night - Charlotte Church
5. Joy to the World - Mormom Tabernacle Choir
6. Christmas Shoes - Newsong (Alabama)
7. A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
8. Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano
9. Carol of the Bells -Trans Siberian Orchestra
10. The Twelve Pains of Christmas - Weird Al Yankovic (Hilarious!)
Susan Kaufman, Police Reporter
1. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Crosby did not know Bowie before the odd duet recorded this classic just one month before Crosby's death. Crosby called Bowie a "clean-cut kid"
2. Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
It isn't Christmas without hearing "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire." I tried that once. They caught on fire.
3. Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Johnny Mathis
I love this Christmas song although due to clever advertising, I think of gleeful parents celebrating their children's return to school.
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland
Nobody can belt out a tune like Judy.
5. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
If Eartha can't convince Santa to come down her chimney, no one can.
Although this isn't the theme of your compilation, I would like to nominate "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" by the Royal Guardsman as the most bizarre and disturbing Christmas song. As Snoopy is about to get shot by the bloody Red Baron in a battle during World War I, the Red Baron hears Christmas Bells and lets Snoopy live. Joy to ALL!
(I had this on a 45 I played over and over on my close N play)
Joanne Sandy, Entertainment Panelist
1. I am Santa Claus - Bob Rivers
Rivers is a nationally known radio disc jockey whose twisted Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" into a Christmas carol that headbangers may forever cherish.
2. Jingle Bells - Singing Dogs.
I laugh and smile everytime I hear it remembering how we wore out the 45 disc!
3. The Christmas Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) - The Chipmunks
I can't help but sing along; it is so cute.
4. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
Christmas would not be Christmas without hearing this song or watching the movie that made it so popular.
5. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
What would Christmas be without the king of rock and roll and his ba-ba-ba-blues?
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland
The passion in Garland's version of this song is incredible.
7. Happy Xmas (War is Over) - John Lennon and Yoko Ono
A Christmas wish with a passionate world-wide message.
8. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Burl Ives
Ives voice in the song and as "Sam the Snowman" in the movie made both a Christmas classic.
9. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roating on an Open Fire) - Johnny Mathis
Surely a Christmas classic when sung by Mathis.
10. Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano
Feliciano and his guitar brought a swing to Christmas music.
John Pulliam, Business Editor
1. The Lost Christmas Eve - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
I love the sound, a combination of contemporary and classic. Great lyrics: "On a street in the night, in the cold winter's night, a child stands alone and she's waiting. And the light that's out there, it just hangs in the air, as if it was just hesitating. And the snow it comes down, and it muffles the sound, of dreams on their way to tomorrow." There's more, check it out.
2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Mannheim Steamroller
I like this group's Christmas carols for much the same reasons as I love The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, although Mannheim tends to be more instrumental.
3. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
Christmas without Elvis is like a Christmas stocking without a lump of coal.
4. Silver Bells - John Prine
This song has been done by everyone from Billy Idol to Bing Crosby. A surprising number of country singers - Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, etc. - also have covered this classic Christmas carol. Prine gets my vote.
5. The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) - The Chipmunks
Who couldn't love David Seville's lovable Alvin, Theodore and Simon? Seville's real name was Ross Bagdasarian, so it's easy to see why he used a stage name. Most talented chipmunks of all time; sorry fans of Chip and Dale. "Me, I want a Hula Hoop."
6. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
I debated using this. Let's face it, we've all heard it a million times. But any song that made snow and Christmas go hand-in-hand has to be on the list.
7. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
OK, not the classic version but fun, especially when "The Boss" asks if everyone had been good last year and says, "Not many, not many," or something like that.
8. Thank You Very Much - Albert Finney
From the movie "Scrooge." Underrated movie. I could have listed two or three more songs from this flick.
9. All Alone in the World - Jim Backus
From Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. If you can listen to young Magoo/Scrooge sing this song without tears in your eyes, you, my friend, must be Scrooge himself. (I know it's weird a "mature" individual, such as myself, still loves this cartoon Christmas Carol. You just never know.)
10. Merry Christmas, Baby - Chuck Berry
Another Christmas song covered by virtually everyone, from Elvis to Springsteen to Hanson to Christine Aguilera. Have to go with the king of St. Louis, Chuck Berry. Have a Berry, Merry Christmas.
Robert Buck, Local News Editor
1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
A little friendly banter with the band leads into a rockin' Christmas classic
2. Happy X-mas (War is Over) - John Lennon and Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band
An amazingly inspired Christmas message from an avowed atheist.
3. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
It may have been written by Mel Torme, but Cole's smooth voice owns it. I like to make up my own wacky lyrics for it, like "tiny tots being hung by a fire ..." He-he. What fun!
4. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
Man, is this the most sultry Christmas tune, or what. I imagine her wrapped in a polar bear rug before a roaring fireplace purring the lines to Santa as she pens her wish list.
5. Merry Christmas Darling - The Carpenters
My heart melts every time I hear Karen Carpenter sing this.
6. Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth) - Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Another great message of peace for the holidays and beyond. Gotta love that classic '80s video, too.
7. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
My favorite Christmas song from childhood. What boy wouldn't love a singing cowboy?
8. Blue Christmas - Elvis
Does Elvis need supporting commentary?
9. Jingle Bells - Diana Krall
Krall's syncopated style jazzes this song up so much it's even more fun than the various "Batman smells" versions. It's kind of how I'd imagine William Shatner singing it.
10. Christmas Time is Here - Vince Guaraldi Trio
The lyrics may be about "happiness and cheer" but I refer to this one as "Suicide Christmas" because it's so darn depressing sounding. Still, like the horrific crash scene, I'm inexplicably drawn to it.
Yuck: White Christmas - The poor quality of the 1942 recording by Bing Crosby is dated and sappy, especially that goofy Disney-esque whistling. Gag me. Neil Diamond's doo-wop version blows Bing away.
Mike Trueblood, Sports Editor
1. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
2. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
3. Merry Christmas Baby - B.B. King
4. Pretty Paper - Willie Nelson
5. Baby It's Cold Outside - Leon Redbone-Zooey Dechanel
6. Christmas Vacation (theme from the movie) - Marvis Staples
7. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
8. Run Run Rudolph - Chuck Berry
9. 'Zat You, Santy Claus? - Louis Armstrong
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Lou Rawls
Janet Klockenga, Lifestyles Editor
1. 2000 Miles - The Pretenders
2. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
3. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
4. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - John Mellencamp
5. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - Bruce Springsteen
6. The Chipmunk Song - Alvin and the Chipmunks
7. Santa Baby - Madonna
8. Father Christmas - The Kinks
9. Happy Christmas (War is Over) - John Lennon
10. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
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