Days 18 – 25 #EdisXmasCountdown

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music

It’s the big day.

Christmas day 2017.

We’ve been on a journey, haven’t we. We’ve seen highs, lows, and a whole lot of Christmas clichés, but we’ve made it through, and here we are on the last day.

How has it been for you?

For the few among you who still somehow have no idea what I’m talking about, over advent, I have been sharing some of my favourite Christmas music. A mix of carols and pop songs, and old and new music, alongside reimagined classics, I have tried to share what Christmas has sounded like to me this year.

All of the action has gone down on Twitter and previous blog posts can be found here. Also, you can find the complete Spotify playlist here, as well as last year’s list here.

But now, without further ado, let’s look back over the last 7 days of Christmas.

Day 18

Can’t Wait For Christmas – TobyMac

We’re starting off the week with some cheerful pop from TobyMac. Hearing this one a few days ago really put me in the mood for Christmas. Yes it’s kind of cheesy, but I am willing to overlook that because you can tell that this man genuinely loves this time of year.

This song is taken from his seasonal album (Light Of Christmas) which also features a song with Owl City, who you might remember featured on day 12 of our countdown. I genuinely never thought that I would be able to make a non-ironic list of music in 2017 that includes Owl City twice and, quite frankly, I’m delighted.

Day 19

I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm – Ingrid Michaelson

You’ve definitely heard Ingrid Michaelson’s music, but you probably don’t realise it. She has some success with her indie acoustic music in the early noughties and you’ll definitely remember hearing Be OK or The way I Am on adverts on TV shows at the time.

Today’s song is a modern cover of the Irving Berlin’-written classic, I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm. Michaelson’s guitar brings some warmth to the classic song, as well as a simple, yet lively modernity.

This is  a very, very sweet song about love. But let’s face it, the couple in the song are very clearly in the honeymoon stage. A few months and a few fights on, it’ll be something along the lines of “my love keeps me warm because it’s like being in hell”.

Sorry, I’m an old cynic at heart….

Merry Christmas!

 

Day 20

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve – Tori Roper

The first time I heard this song was when Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (take a moment to appreciate how posh those names sound) shared an adorable acoustic cover on Youtube in 2011.

Annoyingly, they didn’t record their version properly so, instead, I just Googled ‘what are you doing new years eve acoustic’ and this version from, up and coming singer, Tori Roper appeared.

While lacking the duet element of Joe and Zooey’s version, it retains the song’s vulnerability and openness. We can all relate to feeling out of someone’s league, but the singer here decided to go for it anyway and shoot their shot.

I’m almost certain that they were immediately shot down after posing this question to their crush, because that’s how life is. But this is still a lovely, lovely song. Enjoy Zooey and Joseph being cute below.

 

Day 21

Carol Of The Bells – Libera

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time. Last year, the a capella Pentatonix version featured on the list, but today I have decided to keep things slightly more traditional with a version from boys choir Libera.

It cannot be denied that this song is at least a little bit creepy, and the music video below which features the boys singing ominously in a forest does little to dispel that image.

Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful song about being excited for Christmas – something that I can definitely relate to today.

 

Day 22

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Michael Bublé

Try as you might, it is pretty much impossible to compile a list of Christmas music without somehow involving Micahel Bublé. This man has somehow positioned himself as the King of Christmas and his covers of classic Christmas songs have gone on to eclipse the originals in modern day popularity.

If you read the blogs on last year’s countdown, you may remember that I have a, shall we say, interesting relationship with Mr. Bublé. To cut a long story short: I don’t like him (or at least, I don’t want to like him). I should note that this is through no fault of his own, and in fact exists despite his immense talent and the beautiful music he makes that I begrudgingly enjoy.

One thing I can proudly hold against him is his ill-advised cover of Santa Baby (that basically amounted to a series of ‘no homo’s), which I imagine must have been intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but in my opinion, just turned out uncomfortable.

Regardless, I can’t argue with his catalogue of work, especially the Christmas stuff which truly is some stellar stuff. There is a reason why he is trotted out every year at Christmas time with his non-threatening good looks and almost aggresively smooth voice.

At this point I’ve run out of space to talk about today’s actual song, but rest assured that, much like the other Sinatra-esque covers in the crooner’s canon, it is a heartwarming treat for the ears.

 

Day 23

Gloria – Josh Garrels

Our countdown started off with a song from Josh Garrels, so it is only fitting that he appears again toward the end to sandwich in our playlist. I hesitate to call this song a cover, as it sounds miles apart from the Gloria In Excelsis Deo hymn that we know, so let’s just say that today’s song was inspired by the centuries old song.

I enjoy the indie folk vibes and Garrels’ earnest vocals, as well as how the music builds into a joyous chorus of “gloria”s that sounds thoroughly modern but still echoes the same spirit of people singing the original hymn hundreds of years ago.

 

 

Day 24

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

‘Twas the night before Christmas… I think I actually enjoy Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. Anticipation is almost always better than the things itself.

Some of the more organised types will have their presents all wrapped up days, even weeks, before the big day, but I love wrapping gifts on Christmas eve, knowing that, in a few short hours when they’re opened, I’ll be able to see my family’s faces of delight, shock, horror, revulsion, and eventual acceptance. (You really don’t want to receive one of my gifts…)

Fittingly, I chose this iconic 80s jam for today’s song, but I have come to realise that this song has little or nothing to do with Christmas wrapping, but instead focuses on a woman who is unable to take hints as to when someone isn’t interested.

 

Day 25

O Come All Ye Faithful – Pentatonix

It’s the big day. I LOVE Christmas! I really hope you have had a delightful day, wherever you and whatever you’ve been doing.

I contemplated putting a sombre song that contemplates the deep, intensely theological ideas, but today is a day for celebration. So instead, here is a lively gospel cover of Joy To The World from everyone’s favourite a capella group, Pentatonix.

So there we are. 25 days of music. i hope you guys have enjoyed it as much as I have.

 

 

 

My little brother has the misfortune of being born on December the 26th. So for him, Christmas is just a warm-up for his big day, but a warm-up that (let’s face it) will always eclipse his birthday.

To try and and combat this, my parents would always buy him a big present on his birthday. A huge remote-controlled car, or a bike or something large and ostentatious, so he would feel special.

One year in particular when he was very young, I remember he got something really big. Ironically, I can’t actually remember what that thing was, and I don’t think that he can either, because what he really enjoyed, what he really valued in that gift was the box.

He loved that box. I vaguely remember playing with him in it. We probably pretended it was a spaceship or something like that. And, as much fun as it was, we can’t escape the fact that he had wasted a wonderful gift.

I wonder if sometimes we can be like my little brother, getting caught up in the packaging of Christmas, but ignoring the amazing gift that’s right there.

Christmas isn’t about the presents, or the food, or the Christmas music (as much as that pains me to admit). It isn’t even about seemingly noble things like spending time with loved ones, or being kind to strangers, as great as those things are.

Christmas is about God loving us so much that he refused to be aloof and disconnected so came to earth as a human. Born in abject poverty, forced to seek asylum in a foreign country as a toddler, persecuted as an adult, and eventually killed, he most definitely experienced the lows of human life.

But this means that it can’t be denied that Jesus is for everyone. Young peasant couples raising a child born out of wedlock (Mary and Joseph), poor outcasts (the shepherds), rich, wise intellectuals (the Wise Men), even people who work in hospitality but aren’t very good at their jobs (the innkeeper). Everyone.

So when you think about it, Christmas is actually, dare I say it…

about you.

And me.

It’s about all of us. God thought we were worth coming to earth in poverty, scandal and shame, and ultimately worth dying for. So really, we’re the meaning of Christmas.

God thinks we’re worth knowing, so isn’t it mabe worth trying to get to know him?

So I implore you this Christmas. Have a think about all of this. Please feel free to message me, comment or whatever if you want to chat more.

But whatever you do, don’t just play with Christmas’ packaging. I can tell you from experience, the gift is so much better than the box.

 

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Days 11 – 17 #EdisXmasCountdown

EdisXmasCountdown, music

Contrary to what has become a popular understanding, the Wise Men – or Magi, if you’re feeling fancy – weren’t actually present at Jesus’ birth. If you were to ask a historian or just read the bible, you would find out that the Eastern travellers only came along by the time the little Baby Jesus had become the slightly bigger Toddler Jesus.

So they missed it. They missed the birth of our saviour. They missed the shepherds, missed the stable, they missed it all.

Poor form, Magi. Poor form.

The world’s most celebrated group of travelling mystics of all time were late.

So as you bear that in mind, I would like to very humbly offer an apology for the lateness of this post. Due to a combination of me being busy and of the dates of Christmas this year, I thought it would be best if I share days 11 – 18 today on Christmas Eve, then days 19 -25 tomorrow on Christmas day to round off the series.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, over the advent season, I have been sharing 25 of my favourite Christmas songs. There have been old songs and new, pop songs and carols, as well as some new versions of classic tunes.

Follow all the action on Twitter and read the previous weekly blog posts here, including last year’s entries.

So let’s get into it. Here is another week of Christmas cheer from me to you.

Enjoy.

Day 11

What Christmas Means To Me – Paul Young

“Candles burning low, lots of mistletoe…” Despite apparently growing up in the 1800s before electric light was commonplace, Paul Young’s Christmas memories are very sweet and are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. The standout from his 2nd Christmas album, unsurprisingly titled A Very Special Christmas 2, this old school song brings a cheerful sense of nostalgia about the holiday season.

 

Day 12

Dear Santa – Mr. Little Jeans

Bringing things back into this decade, here is the oddly named female vocalist Mr. Little Jeans with Dear Santa. In this song, the Norwegian sings about the challenges of spending Christmas apart from her significant other. Unlike many other older or old-fashioned songs about lonely Yuletides, I like that today’s song does admit that “I wouldn’t need any presents at all, if I had my baby on a long-distance call”.

It’s perhaps a smidge less romantic than walking 1000 miles, but a cheeky Facetime with your long-distance partner on Christmas might be the best present you could get.

 

Day 13

Santa’s Beard – The Beach Boys

With a back catalogue that includes songs with titles like The Baker Man, Barbra Ann and Bull Session with the Big Daddy (and that’s just the B’s!), today’s song continues the Beach Boys’ seeming commitment to sing about literally anything.

This one details the disappointment of a little boy who visits ‘Santa’ at a shopping centre and promptly realises that the man is an imposter upon tugging on his beard. Traumatising stuff.

Sung in their distinctive surfer/barbershop style with their effortless harmonies, this song is a whimsical look into Christmas from the eyes of a five (and a half) year old.

 

Day 14

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Tenth Avenue North

This song featured on last year’s playlist, but I can assure you, Nat King Cole’s version sounds miles apart from today’s tropical house cover. This track features on their creative Decade The Halls, Vol. 1 album – an anthology of popular Christmas songs, but with each sung in the style of music from every consecutive decade from the 1920s onwards. It shouldn’t take a genius to work out that today’s song is the last on the album as tropical electronic music is peak 2010s.

As you might have noticed from the playlist so far, oftentimes even the newest Christmas songs have retro influences – Sia’s Santa’s Coming for Us, Bonnie McKee’s California Winter, or even Dear Santa above spring to mind. This song however, bucks the trend, bringing a truly modern take to this centuries-old song.

And luckily, this is only volume 1 of the Decade the Halls album so hopefully we can expect more next year.

 

Day 15

You’ll Know It’s Christmas – Deacon Blue

Like many festive songs, this one is little more than a list of things that the writer enjoys about Chrsitmas. This time it’s snow, singing, people believing in each other and babies in manger nativity scenes.

Despite the hackneyed Yuletide motifs, this song presents a cheerful, optimistic and inspiring message, rather than merely the focus on gift-wrapping and icicles that much of Christmas music can have. I specially like how the song builds from a sombre contemplative start to the euphoric final chorus.

“You’ll know it’s Christmas when the snows are beginning and someone’s singing a song.”

Sounds about right to me.

 

Day 16

Up On The Housetop – Pentatonix

The Pentatonix love Christmas. Having released a festive album every year since 2014, this a capella  group take the whole ‘bringing glad tidings of great joy’ thing to the next level. Admirably, despite their sheer volume of output, they are still able to maintain the level of quality that got them noticed in the first place.

After a cappella music’s spike in popularity in the early 2010s, thanks to the likes of Glee, flashmobs, the Pitch Perfect films, and of course the band’s own viral sucess, it can be easy to forget just how much effort goes into all of their music. Every sound you hear is made by their mouths, yet each song plays like a fully produced studio track.

A testament to their skill, they even somehow managed to turn this quite frankly ridiculous Christmas ditty into a bona fide jam that makes me want to move my body.

Looks like this year, Santa’s bringing another kind of slayyyyy!

Enjoy their cool VR video below. The future is now.

Day 17

My Gift Is You

To this day, I still have literally no idea what a hollaback girl is. Thankfully, in this new song, Gwen Stefani uses only standard English words.

Riffing on an admittedly now overused ‘all i want for Christmas is you’ trope, Stefani croons in her distinctive voice how her significant other is the only gift she needs, rather than money, a ring, or any of the myriad yuletide clichés.

Stefani reportedly wrote this song about her boyfriend – country music star Blake Shelton. Shelton recently received some stick for being chosen as People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive with many suggesting there were perhaps more deserving candidates.

Regardless, with this song, it is clear there’s only one winner in Gwen’s heart.

 

@ediadegbola

Wide Open

places

August is my favourite month of the year.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that my birthday comes right in the middle of August (it’s the 15th, presents are encouraged and expected) but this year, another thing I’m looking forward to is Wide Open – a new retreat for Christian creatives.

Retreating is something I often struggle to do. Just to take some time to stop, relax, think, contemplate, and spend some time with God. Set in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Wide Open is the perfect opportunity to do just that. A place to reflect, to learn and to connect with God and each other, this gathering is intimate and interactive, limited to just 40 spaces.

It takes place from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August and looks set to be a feast for the heart, soul, and spirit (as well as the stomach!) Based around being outdoors, it will be a joyous weekend of forest feasts, campfires, workshops, and loads of time to soak up nature.

With a diverse selection of workshops and sessions from the likes of photographers to singer-songwriters to stationary creators, it really will be a celebration of creativity in all its forms.

wide open 3

To get know a little more about the heart behind Wide Open, I had a chat with Beth Webber – Wide Open’s founder.

What made you want to start Wide Open?

Forest Found [Beth’s outdoor events company] is all about creating opportunities for people to come together and spend time in beautiful green spaces. I’d had a vision for a long time of organising a gathering for christian creatives that would offer them the time to be with like minded passionate people, to spend evenings round the campfire engaging in rich conversations and to hear from and be encouraged by people who are trying to live out their creativity through their work and lives in a way that glorifies God and builds the kingdom.

What are you hoping people take away from Wide Open?

I hope that the people who share in this weekend will encounter Jesus in deep and authentic ways. I hope they build rich community with new people.  I want people to leave having unpacked some of the things they wrestle with as creatives, to leave with truth emblazoned on their hearts-that their identity is found in Him and through Him and with a strengthened faith that God is good regardless of their successes or disappointments as creative sons and daughters of the King!

wide open 4

 

What makes it different from other camps out there?

There are some amazing offers out there and I knew I didn’t want to organise another conference or retreat.  I wanted it to be weekend in the outdoors, full of fun, feasting and being honest and vulnerable with one another. The opportunity to spend time with a small collective is really exciting and the intimate nature of the weekend will, I hope, enable people to really share their journey and creative practice with us, to be prayed for and affirmed individually. The connections made over the weekend will inevitably spill out into real life and continue to encourage and build up the creative settings people go back to.

It’s about being real with what it’s like to wrestle with humility and self-promotion, it’s about being realistic and hopeful for what God has planned for our creative giftings. It’s also all about filling our lungs with fresh air, hanging out in hammocks and soaking up creation.

What are you most looking forward to? 

Meeting some incredible people who are on fire for Jesus, stargazing, campfire conversations, deep worship, sharing our stories, amazing workshops, inspiring speakers. So much! Wide Open belongs to the Lord – I’m just his hands and I am so excited to see what he is going to do in our hearts and lives over the weekend.

More details can be found on the website and feel free to ask me any questions.

I genuinely can’t wait! Roll on summer

 

@ediadegbola

 

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