Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Christmas Music

Even though I profess so much love of Thanksgiving to be talking of Christmas before Thanksgiving is over, Thanksgiving always comes paired with the following Friday, which is the day that I decorate for Christmas. And to decorate for Christmas, you have to have your Christmas playlist ready. I have had the same playlist for a while, so this year I decided it was time to get a little new music. Here is most of the old and new:
  • Winter Magic by Hayley Westenra - Sometimes when classical artists put out a Christmas album, it ends up sounding sad: they try and show their vocal ability, so they songs end up slower and hence more sorrowful in tone. But Hayley has a nice Christmas album. It's mostly traditional albums with a few lesser sung ones and a couple of originals. Her vocals are beautiful and smooth but also happy.
  • Noel by Josh Groban - Josh is more pop crossover than classical, but when his Christmas album came out several years ago, it felt like the first time I was hearing these familiar songs sung well. He stayed with more of a traditional, decorative approach to this album that suits Christmas. It's also a generally good selection of songs.
  • Holiday EP by Blondfire - Having these two classical Christmas albums, it was a little different or me to get an indie pop selection, but I was a big fan of Blondfire (I still am, just maybe not as much of all their newer music). And these four songs have made a nice addition: they're soft and cool like a snowy evening, with a touch of vintage style. They're all, I believe, original songs, which means there are less repeats of the usuals.
  • "Do You Hear What I Hear" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" by Flyleaf - I also really like Flyleaf, so I have both of their Christmas singles. A little more of a rock sound here, which, again, differs from the crowd. But at the same time, a new approach to a regular song is good.
  • "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" by Norah Jones - This (along with the following two songs) was a free download from iTunes. Although I don't usually listen to Norah Jones, she does have a talent for singing. Her rendition of this song is clear and classic.
  • "Christmas in the Room" by Sufjan Stevens - This song has a soft, slightly bittersweet sound that makes for a quiet, in-between moment.
  • "Twinkling Lights" by Office Romance - More upbeat, this one's just a random glitzy, indie pop type of sound. 
  • "Silent Night" by Forte - Included on their first album, this song from Forte has a completely classical sound, soft and strong with clear vocals.
  • "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Alex & Sierra - Back to pop, we also come back to the casual, upbeat, glowing sound.
  • Campfire Christmas by Rend Collective - These last four items are my new additions this year. Opening up iTunes, I decided to take a look at this newly-released album--and promptly loved the spirit of it. It's celebratory. Absolutely celebratory. It's a lot of recognizable Christmas songs with a couple of new ones, but everything feels new. The arrangements are so unique and specific, and everything celebrates everything that is wonderful about Christmas. It's one of the best Christmas albums I've come across. This is Christmas joy and Christmas spirit.
  • Into the Silent Night - EP by KING & COUNTRY - I'd never heard of this group, either, but their album has a nice mix of a slight rock sound within the Christmasness without going overboard. Two regular songs and two new ones. 
  • "Mary Did You Know" by Kutless - I kind of wanted to get one of their Christmas songs, but most of them either felt like repetitions of what I already had or just not interesting enough in sound. Since I like this song, it was the one I went with. More of a rock sound again.
  • "Away in a Manger" and "I Wish You Christmas" by Katherine Jenkins - Now back to classical. Strangely enough, I came across Katherine Jenkins years ago when I was listening to a lot of classical and classical crossover--but I thought she wasn't the best singer. Then I watched her in that Doctor Who Christmas special from a couple years ago and was amazed at how beautiful her voice sounded. I guess it's been several years since I first listened to her, so she probably has continued with voice lessons, as any good singer does. Anyway, I had to pick out a couple of songs from her Christmas album. They're rich and melodious.

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