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

Days 4 – 10 #EdisXmasCountdown 2017

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music

We’re well into December now and Christmas is very much on its way. I have already bought two secret Santa gifts and am looking forward to my work Christmas party i.e. my only opportunity to wear a suit until wedding season rolls around next year.

I love this time of year – the cold winds, the over-excited children, the dangerous hazard of icy roads. Ok, those definitely aren’t the best things that the season has to offer, but maybe below I can suggest seven of Christmas’ finest products.

If you didn’t know (literally, where have you been?), for advent, I am compiling a list of some of my favourite Christmas songs. I’ll be counting down to the big day with 25 of the best Yuletide tunes – old and new, Christian and secular.

Check out all the action on Twitter and follow the playlist on Spotify which I will update daily. And if you just can’t get enough, listen to last year’s playlist and read some of last year’s blogs too.

Ok then, let’s get started. Here’s what the last week has sounded like for me.

 

Day 4

Can You See – 5th Harmony

Taking a break from the almost aggressively sexual output that we have come to expect from them, here 5th Harmony sing a beautiful R&B ballad about a Christmas star that leads the way spiritually. (In case that was too subtle for you, this particular star is called Jesus).

This song was written for the soundtrack of The Star – a children’s film about that night in Bethlehem, told from the perspective of the nativity’s unsung hero: the donkey. Yeah sure, the wise men brought some expensive gifts, but try walking for 80 miles with a pregnant woman on your back.

It’s nice to see a modern Christmas song that talks a little about the meaning of Christmas, rather than just presents and snow and festive feelings, not that presents, snow and festive feelings don’t have their place.

Anyway, this song got me in a Christmassy mood when it was released in October, so I’m sure it’ll do the same now it’s actually December.

 

Day 5

All Alone On Christmas – Darlene Love

It really wouldn’t be Christmas without Darlene Love having a musical meltdown of some kind. Last year we had her crying on the doorstep pleading with her man to come home. This year it appears that said gentleman did not return and now she’s facing a lonely yuletide.

Jokes aside, this emotional song reminds us that this time of year can be very lonely for some people. Here is a woman who is so lonely that she is writing a letter to Santa Claus asking him to stay with her a while when delivering her presents. It’s safe to say she’s had more than a few brandys at this point.

I love the vulnerability in this song and her previous hit Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) though it’s worth mentioning that, aside from the honesty, both tracks also share an undeniably similar tune.

 

Day 6

2000 Miles – Tom Chaplin

For day 6, we have an updated cover of The Pretenders’ hit 2000 Milles. Not to be confused with The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles, or Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles, this song has become a Christmas classic since its release in 1983. Who knew geographically themed music was so popular?

In today’s cover, former Keane frontman Tom Chaplin breathes new life into the ditty as part of his new album Twelve Tales Of Christmas.

Sadly, this beautiful song isn’t about separated lovers as the lyrics suggest, but was actually written as a tribute to the Pretenders’ original guitar player who died of a drug overdose the year before tit was written.

Nevertheless, this gentle melody has brought a sombre joy to Christmases over the past few decades and, no doubt, this cover and the original version will continue to do so for many more.

 

Day 7

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Noah Cyrus

The lights are up, nutmeg is in the air, and shoppers are becoming increasingly stressed and irritable: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas. Today, Noah Cyrus brings us into the one week mark with a surprisingly beautiful cover of this quintessentially festive song.

Best known (let’s face it) for being Miley Cyrus’s little sister, Noah’s burgeoning music career has so far delivered a slew of competent, edgy and surprisingly mature pop singles for a 17-year old. Today’s track however, goes in a more traditional direction.

Being a middle child, I am aware of how annoying it is to constantly be compared to one’s siblings but I can’t resist sharing this video of Miley’s Christmas 2008 performance when she was just a year younger than Noah is now.

2008 truly was a simpler time.

 

Day 8

California Winter – Bonnie McKee

Having written for the likes of Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Taio Cruz (Dynamite was a massive tune, don’t even try and deny it), Bonnie Mckee is responsible for some of your favourite pop songs. Her own musical career however, has been a little more bumpy after releasing an unsuccessful album and parting ways with two record labels.

Unperturbed, she decided to go it alone as an independent artist and has produced some incredibly slick pop and fantastic music videos over the last couple of years that are, in my opinion, woefully underrated.

Today’s song is a retro-styled romp as Bonnie sings of how her lover makes her feel warm inside, like a California winter. So far, so cliché, but the cute lyrics and creative single-shot video make this catchy song stand out that bit more.

For more exciting festive goodness from Ms. McKee, check out her California Winter Extravaganza Christmas special here.

 

Day 9

Ave Maria – Frank Sinatra

Full disclosure: this isn’t technically a Christmas song. The melody was written by Schubert almost 200 years ago as part of his Opus 52. Over time, the tune has been borrowed to go with the Catholic prayer to the mother of Jesus – Hail Mary, or in latin, Ave Maria.

So, not really a Christmas song per se, but Mary kind of had a big role to play in the  whole nativity story, so I’ll allow it. And despite not understanding any words in Latin other than ave and Maria, I love Sinatra’s strong, yet gentle voice on this tender ode to Jesus’ mama.

Day 10

Humbug – Owl City

Owl City. Now there’s a name we haven’t heard for a while. After his huge single Fireflies and some follow up hits like Good Time with Carly Rae Jepsen, Owl city (real name, Adam Young) has quietly plugged away, continuing to make music in his trademark electro-synth autotuned style.

I stumbled upon this track a few weeks ago and, despite its under-produced album art,  it resonated with me. Taking aim at the over-commercialisation of Christmas, Adam sings about the stress of finding the ‘perfect’ Christmas gift for his significant other. Eventually, he decides to give her the only thing of real value – his love. This is either a beautiful romantic gesture or a massive cop out. I’ll let his girlfriend decide.

Oddly, both the melody and message of this song remind me of James Corden’s The Greatest Gift song from Sainsbury’s cute claymation advert last year. Unlike Owl City however, the supermarket were very careful not to suggest that people don’t buy presents, merely that they should do so whilst also enjoying time with family. They are  a  chain of shops after all.

 

So that’s it for another week, friends. I’ll see you next week, same time, same place.

 

@ediadegbola

Days 19 – 25 #EdisXmasCountdown

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music, musings

To quote 1970s rock band Slade, “It’s Chriiiiiiiistmaaassssssssss!!!!!!”

Yep, it’s finally happened.

Merry Christmas, one and all.

For those who don’t know, for Advent, I’ve been compiling a list of my favourite Christmas songs on Twitter – ancient carols, modern pop and everything in between, as long as it brings a certain Yuletide joy.

Each Sunday in December I’ve written a post listing the previous week’s songs and a little about why I like them/what they mean to me. Where possible I’ve tried to include a Spotify and Youtube link so everyone can listen. Unless you’re on Apple Music or Tidal, in which case, you’re on your own. Ask Taylor Swift or Beyonce to help you.

You can read the posts so far here and if you’re not so much a fan of reading you can just listen to the playlist here. You don’t even have to read this if you don’t want to. I give you permission to close this  webpage.

Ok, I’ve just lost 3 of the 7 people that regularly read my blog, but that’s ok. I’ve got the best ones left.

For the last week of advent, I thought we’d stick to the absolute Christmas classics. You’ll probably know all these songs, though you might not necessarily know these versions.

So grab a class of mulled wine, get cozy, sit back and relax (or stand, I don’t care) and enjoy 7 of the best Christmas songs ever.

Day 19

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl

I told you I wasn’t messing about. For many, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without this song.

Released in 1987, this Irish folk-style ballad is a duet between MacColl and Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and, despite questionable lyrics, has gone on to become one of the most popular Christmas songs in the UK.

Singing in the distinctive drunken howl that we have come to associate with the Irish, MacGowan and MacColl insult each other and sing an ode to Christmas in New York City – a place where you’ve definitely got to take the good with the bad.

Something about this song just makes you want to put your arms around the people next to you and mumble vague melodic noises (until you get to the chorus) and then scream out with all you’ve got about policemen and Galway Bay!

 

Day 20

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Tom Odell

I have to be honest, I had overlooked this song until I re-watched the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special last week. Something about seeing that eccentric Anglo-Welsh family sing this at the end just got to me.

Unfortunately Larry Lamb didn’t record his and the West/Shipman’s cover of this Hollywood golden era gem. In his defence, he’s been busy recently doing unspeakable things in the Australian outback. Instead, here’s Tom Odell who’s voice you’ll remember from John Lewis’s saccharine Christmas advert about the penguin.

Eschewing the big booming sound of earlier versions from the likes of Sinatra, Tom’s vocals are soft and earnest as he plays along on the piano.

This one’s perfect to sing with the family or curl by the fire with a glass of mulled wine. You might not have noticed, but I kind of like mulled wine.

 

Day 21

Carol of the Bells

Carol of the Bells is one or my favourite carols ever. You might remember it from the film Home Alone as well as countless adverts over the years.

It definitely has a little bit of a sinister feel to it, especially on the choir version but, I’ve gone for this a capella cover by the Pentatonix. These guys manage to rival even the unassailable Michael Buble when it comes to Christmas output, releasing a new Christmas album each of the last three years.

This song is a joyful paean (Google it. I did) to the ringing bells that signify Christmastime is well and truly upon us once more. This obviously harks back to a time when churches, towncriers, and I guess just random people used to ring bells willy-nilly. Thankfully, these days are no more. The modern equivalent of yuletide signal I guess is the first time you hear those jingle bells in _________ (*insert literally any Christmas song here*).

 

Day 22

Jingle Bell Rock – Straight No Chaser

Mean Girls.  Need i say more?

Of course, this song was featured in the now iconic dance scene from the 2004 high school comedy – the fateful dance that spelt the beginning of the end for Gretchen Wiener (of toaster strudel fame).

Today’s version is from a capella group Straight No Chaser and they do a great job of livening up the song.

 

Day 23

Silent Night

Apparently this is Britain’s favourite carol. I used to hate it and find it incredibly boring, but in recent years, this slow, gentle hymn has started to grow on me.

The harmonies in today’s cover are absolutely stunning, while the lyrics bring to mind a lovely yet unrealistically peaceful manger scene. With labour screams, baby crying and all manner of animal noise, I can’t imagine that night was very silent, but it works for the song so let’s just enjoy that.

Day 24

All I Want for Christmas is You – Mariah Carey

When I hear those first 13 xylophone notes, to be honest, when I hear the first 3 xylophone notes, I don’t care where I am, what I’m doing or who I’m with, I am getting up and I am going to sing the heck out of that song. No regrets.

This is perhaps the Chistmas tune. I absolutely love this song. So familiar, so cheerful, so difficult to sing. We’ve all tried and failed to hit that high note at the end, or at least mimic Mariah’s trademark vocal acrobatics. As My friend Hazel says, “PICK A NOTE, MARIAH!!”

“Make my wish come truuuu-ooooh-oooh-oooh-eee-ooo-oooh, all I want for Christmaaaaaas iiii-yiiii-yiiii-iiiis youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!”

Despite MC’s best efforts to make sure that no one other than herself is able to sing this song, I think we can all agree that is is probably one of the best Christmas songs of the last 25 years. If not, ever.

It’s definitely one of the most popular – earning (as of 2013) over $50million. And I know that I’ve probably added at least a cheeky million myself since then. Honestly, they must turn up at Mariah’s house every year with a truck full of money with all the royalties she must get from this song.

Being such a popular track, there are loads of covers for this song and many of them are quite good. Fair play, you don’t mess around when you’re covering Mariah. One that I do not enjoy is the unnecessary 2011 remix duet with Justin Bieber. I’m not even going to put the link, but the video features Mariah dancing suggestively (it’s the only way she knows how) while a teenage Bieber goes shopping for trainers and a Nintendo 3DS.

2011, ladies and gentlemen! Regardless, despite their best attempts, nothing can ruin this song for me.

 

Day 25

Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Pentatonix

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best part of any carol is the last verse when the band and the choir just go cray and jettison their chill with reckless abandon.

The traditional version of this song is no exception. In fact I was at a carol service yesterday and  it was done beautifully. I love the traditional arrangement of this hymn but if I’m honest, it can be a little slow paced at at times. And it’s basically just a waiting game till you get your the last verse.

So because it’s Christmas day – a big celebration day! – here’s the more lively gospel-style cover from everyone’s favourite YouTube a capella group, the Pentatonix.

Turn it up and let’s have a party!

 

 

 

Ok, there you have it, that’s the end of the countdown!

How was it for you?

One thing I’ve learnt from doing this is the fact that I officially enjoy the Christmas season more than I do Christmas day itself. Being an adult, at least by definition, my parents have pretty much given up on the whole Christmas presents thing (other than the odd small gift), so apart from the huge meal, there’s not really much on the day for me to look forward to, other than contemplating the birth of our saviour. But you can do that any day.

Until now, I guess I’d been subconsciously harbouring retrospective youthful glee at the prospect of opening presents. But now that’s all over, I just enjoy the season. The music, the food, the parties, the lights, the sequins, even the reluctant “goodwill” where people at least try and make an effort to get along.

So that means that this whole countdown i.e. advent itself has been a bit of a countdown to nothing, really. A countdown to a nice meal and a largely ceremonial small gift exchange with my family.

Even if you get a mountain of presents every year and the most amazing Christmas dinner, have you ever been disappointed by Christmas? Found the magical glee shortlived? Or thought the excitement was better than the day itself?

If so, that’s because Christmas day is literally just a day. A day that’s not even Jesus’ real birthday and was chosen – among other reasons – to match already existing pagan festivals at the end of the year (Roman Saturnalia as well as the Winter Solstice).

Like just about every other festival (pagan or otherwise), Christmas has very much been swallowed up by the consumerism machine. I used to work in a supermarket where Christmas goods came out in late September/early October. The mince pies’ best before date didn’t even last till Christmas.

For a lot of us, Christmas is all about stuff. We acknowledge that there’s something nice about an angel and a baby and being a good person, but really it’s about the presents, or the food, or the television, or the booze.

But there’s got be more, right?

What is Christmas really about?

Ah of course, the little baby Jesus.

But why do we care about a peasant baby, born out of wedlock 2000 years ago in cave full of animal crap? Sorry, Jesus, I’m just telling it like it is.

This video talks a little about what Christmas is and why we celebrate it.

 

 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. 

John 3:16‭ MSG

 

Ok, that’s my little preachy section over. And also the end of this blog series.

Have an amazing Christmas, everyone! And thanks so much for reading if you made it this far. And thanks for joining in with me on this musical adventure.

Now go and have a mulled wine, you deserve it.

 

Days 2 – 4 #EdisXmasCountdown

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Today is the first Sunday of advent. In many of the more traditional churches all over the world, a candle will be lit on an advent wreath to mark the passage of the first week of the season.

I’m going to do the next best thing and share with you the songs that I’ve been enjoying so far this month for #EdisXmasCountdown. A social media shout out is basically the millennial equivalent of lighting a candle in respect, anyway.

For those who don’t know, for advent, I’m counting down 25 of my favourite Christmas songs and carols as we wait for the momentous day to arrive. Instead of a centimetre of poor quality chocolate, every day I’ll be tucking into a a Yuletide audio delight and saying a little about why I like them and what they mean to me.

Follow all the action on Twitter at #EdisXmasCountdown. Where possible I’ll put a link to Spotify and I’ll embed a Youtube clip if it’s available so everyone can enjoy this. Except people on Apple Music or Tidal. You’ll have to search it yourself. You made your choice.

And just to clarify for the purists, I’ve only gone with ‘Xmas’ rather than ‘Christmas’ to save characters on Twitter. Don’t worry, Christ is still very much at the centre of my Christmas.

I started on the 1st with A light Has Dawned by Belfrey Music ft. Will & Mim Johnson, so let’s see where the rest of the week has gone.

Day 2

White Christmas – Michael Buble ft. Shania Twain

I have always had a completely undeserved, completely irrational dislike for Michael Buble. Call it jealousy, call it spite, whatever, he just kind of annoyed me.

This isn’t about you, Michael. It’s about me. And I’m working on it.

Anyway, this song went some way to my reluctant acceptance of Mr Buble. Obviously the most popular version of White Christmas is the Bing Crosby one, but this is a fun update of the classic.

Country queen Shania’s and classic crooner Michael’s voices fir perfectly together. Also, I’m glad that they played around with the track a little and had some fun, managing to bring it into the 21st century without having to resort to dubstep or a verse from a popular rapper.

Covering a well-loved song is always a bit hit-and-miss, but I’d say they definitely hit this one. With vocals so smooth that they lead you to believe that he personally lubricates each syllable, this song is a triumph for the self-proclaimed king of Christmas.

You win this round, Buble.

Day 3

You’re A Mean One, Mr Grinch – Jordan Smith

Perhaps an odd choice, but I absolutely love this song. There’s just something about the threateningly non-threatening lyrics that gets me.

Written for the 1966 cartoon film The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (obviously), this track describes Dr Seuss’ hairy green Scrooge endeavouring to ruin Christmas for a town.

What I’m loving about #EdisXmasCountdown is finding interesting versions of classic tunes. There are loads for this one. Glee did it (to be fair, Glee do everything), Fight Song singer Rachel Platten gave us her take. Even Cee Lo Green covered it, because Christmas doesn’t need to make sense.

I’ve gone for this version from 2015’s winner of The Voice US, Jordan Smith, who manages to keep the cute Christmas charm of the classic while giving it a bit of big band boost. I’m absolutely killing the alliteration today.

Obviously the moral of the story is that Christmas isn’t about presents, food or stuff, but about love, family, forgiveness etc. A beautiful message, but I’m going to take it a little further, and remind us (myself included) that yes, that is what Christmas is about, but so is life.

Goodwill to all people shouldn’t begin and end at Christmas. Let’s try and be loving, forgiving, kind and generous all year round.

*Steps down from soapbox*

Day 4

Santa Baby – Ariana Grande ft. Liz Gillies

Like any song that’s been consistently popular for over 60 years, Santa Baby has spawned a lot of covers. From Eartha Kitt’s original to Madonna to The Pussycat Dolls to Glee (they cover everything) to Colbie Caillat, it feels like everyone’s had a go.

One version I’m not in love with is the Michael Buble one. As discussed previously, I have my issues with Mr Buble, so this is perhaps unsurprising.

Giving credit where it’s due, Michael took on for himself the very arduous task of making a song that describes Santa Claus as a sugar daddy sound vaguely heterosexual.

He butches things up by replacing many of the “baby”s with “buddy” and with talk about K’nex and Mercedes. Even the ’54 convertible is changed to a manly “steel blue” instead of the previously feminine “light blue”. Obviously it’s quite tongue in cheek but I just wonder why he bothered.

Anyway, this cover from Ariana Grande and Liz Gillies modernises the tune a little but maintains the playful provocative nature of the song. At the time, both Grande and Gillies were fresh off Nickelodeon’s Victorious so this cover features fewer suggestive squeals than that of seasoned temptress Kylie.

While it does nothing to show off, for example, Grande’s impressive vocal range, their voices blend beautifully with each other, though the vocals are overly soft at times, and almost lispy, probably in an attempt to be soothing and seductive.

Regardless, this is genuinely one of my favourite Christmas songs. Odd I know, but the heart wants what it wants. Which in this case is a ’54 convertible. Light blue, please.

So that’s where we are at the moment. Feel free to join the conversation here, on Twitter, follow the playlist on Spotify, whatever. Just do you.

The good news is that we’ve got another 21 days to enjoy some great songs. Well, at least average songs. Christmas music is a mixed bag, to be honest.

Merry Christmas!

Days 5 – 11 #EdisXmasCountdown

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music

We’ve made it to the 2nd Sunday of advent. Well done all of you for staying alive.

For those who don’t know, or have understandably blocked me on social media, for advent this year I’m doing a countdown on Twitter of 25 of my favourite Christmas songs and carols (#EdisXmasCountdown). On Sundays, I’ll post a list of the week’s songs with a little about why I like them and what they mean to me.

In traditional churches all over the world, a priest of some sort will light a candle on an advent wreath each Sunday to mark the passing of a week of advent, so in a similar vein, I too shall ignite the… musical flame of advent and… put a fire in the wreath of… your minds…

Ok, that metaphor doesn’t really work, but you get what I’m doing.

I’ve tried to get a mix of classics and modern songs as well as tried to find some interesting new covers of songs that you might know well, just to shake things up a little. Where possible I’ll put a Spotify and YouTube link to make it as easy as possible to join in. For the most recent list, checkout my Spotify playlist which I update everyday.

Here’s what the last 7 days of advent have looked like for me.

Day 5

O Come All Ye Faithful

One of the best things about Christmas is the carols. I absolutely love carols. You might recall that I also love Beverleys too.

Written around 300 years ago, O Come All Ye Faithful is definitely one of the best. A rallying cry to come and worship the newborn saviour in Bethlehem, this song always gets me in the Christmas mood. It’s amazing to think that people have been singing this same song every year since before your great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was born.

Without a doubt, the best part of any carol is the last verse or two when they just go crazy with the instruments and the harmonies, and any semblance of chill is well and truly lost. Look out for verse 3 in this one. “Sing choirs of angels…” could not be more correct.

Day 6

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Johnny Mercer & Margaret Whiting

Our song for day 6 is a beautiful Christmas duet. Written by Frank Loesser in 1944 for he and his wife to perform at dinner parties, he eventually sold the rights to MGM who recorded it for the film Neptune’s Daughter.

Having spent a lovely evening together, the song is a back-and-forth conversation between two lovers. The lady wants to stay, but feels she shouldn’t, while the gentleman tries to convince her to.

It has to be said that the man’s gentle yet relentless insistence that his lady friend stay with him does make me at least a little uncomfortable. The video for this cover from Zooey Deschanel’s band She & Him humorously flips the genders and highlights the creepiness. Additionally, upping the sinister element considerably, according to Wikipedia, on the original sheet music, the male vocalist is identified as the “wolf” and the female as the “mouse”.

All that said, even a basic look into the lyrics and the context reveals no sinister intentions. As noted in the Washington Post, it is clear that our lady does want to stay and all her protestations are about what people would think of her in an era when a lady spending the night at a gentleman’s house just wasn’t done. And as feminist blog Persephone Magazine points out, even the lady’s “What’s in this drink?” line was a common jokey phrase used in movies at the time to excuse one’s bad behaviour – the joke often being that there was nothing in the drink.

So perhaps things aren’t as bad as they seem. I’ll let you make up your own mind. Regardless, it’s a beautiful piece of music which my housemate and I have spent the past few weeks trying to learn so we can cutely sing it together by the fire.

We’ve still got a long way to go.

Day 7

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love

All the songs in the countdown so far have been relatively cutesy – romantic ditties, Christmas carols, inappropriately seductive letters to Santa. Outside of the song realm however, the holiday season is rarely so saccharine. We’ve all had a family argument or two at Christmas, most likely over a game of Monopoly.

The vocalist in today’s song has obviously had a falling out with her other half. This song is her plea to her lover to return because Christmas isn’t the same when they’re apart.

Like most Christmas songs (including yesterday’s one) Michael Buble has covered this track. The poor thing just can’t help himself. This time however, I really enjoy his version. Well played, Michael.

Despite its relatively cheery tune, there’s a lot of raw emotion in this song. I’m imagining crying on the doorstop, dressing gown blowing in the wind, screaming after the car as it speeds off down the street. You know, really dramatic, anguished stuff.

That’s Christmas.

Day 8

Ding Dong Merrily On High (The Celebration’s Started) – Rend Collective

With this cheerful cover of a 500 year-old carol, Rend Collective bring us right into Christmas with their usual brand of acoustic folk. Shaking things up somewhat, they mix in samples from some other Christmas songs too.

For those who don’t know, Rend Collective are a Northern Irish Christian folk band. They are often compared to Mumford and Sons as their musical style is similar to Mumford’s was before they discovered leather jackets and electric guitars.

This song is from their aptly named Christmas album – Campfire Christmas Vol. 1 –  which features tons of great yuletide covers to get you into a rustic folk-y acoustic Christmas spirit.

Day 9

Shake Up Christmas – Train

With this song, the masterminds at Coca-Cola aimed to strengthen their stranglehold on the season of Christmas.

It’s a well known fact that the marketing team at Coke are geniuses. Who else could inspire such brand loyalty that leads to public protests after changing the formula?

But when it comes to Christmas, the Coca-Cola marketing machine is at its best.

Firstly, if rumours are to be believed, they rebranded Father Christmas himself, making his costume red and white to match their logo. Coke deny this, admitting that, though they weren’t the first to present the jolly red Santa, they definitely played a part in sealing him in the public consciousness with a campaign that started in the 1930s and spanned 3 decades.

Then they decided that their 21 year old Christmas Coke truck advert is “iconic”, meaning that they can replay the same ad year after year with no pressure to make a new one. Some people even go as far as to say that the release of the classic advert each year signals the official beginning of Christmas season. Meanwhile, poor John Lewis reportedly spends up to £7,000,000 cooking up new ways to make us cry each year.

Finally, Coca-Cola managed to impress their jingle upon this absolute Christmas tune – thus indirectly branding their corporate identity onto Christmas itself. Even more than they already have so far.

Well played, Coca-Cola. Well Played.

Regardless, this song is a lovely, cheerful pop-rock ode to Christmas and the happiness it can bring. Cliched? Yes. Twee? Yes. Enjoyable? Definitely.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an unexplainably strong craving for a Coke.

 

Day 10

Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bing Crosby ft. The Andrews Sisters

For me, this is the official Christmas elf anthem. I know that sounds weird, but this song feels like it was written purely to inspire productivity – like the folk songs factory workers used to sing in the industrial revolution.

I’m seeing a workshop full of elves in a production line singing this a capella while they hammer wooden toy trains and paint toy soldiers in perfect unison.

In which case, the threat of their boss and, let’s face it, overlord watching them even while they sleep seems a little more menacing.

Anyway this vintage Christmas song is over 80 years old now and has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Justin Bieber. The first lyrics of the latter version being “Santa’s coming, girl!” because that’s what Justin Bieber was like in 2011. To be honest, that year wasn’t great for me either.

With Dr Seuss-esque lyrics about “rooty toot toots and rummy tum tums” this is a jolly romp of song and will surely get you in the mood for Christmas.

Or help your productivity in repetitive manual labour. Whichever comes first.

 

Day 11

Mary Did You Know? – Pentatonix

When I was in primary school, I took part in a Christmas play called Captain Christmas. It was about a young captain who led a rag-tag bunch of petty criminals on some sort of adventure. I can’t remember much about it, but I do remember that there was a catchy song about girl power (it was the early noughties), a jungle scene which featured a song about monkeys, and it all ended up with the gang at a Christmas party with Tony Blair and John Prescott (it was the early noughties). I played an elephant who told a joke in a series of jungle-related one liners.

I nailed it.

The next year I had 7 lines in a play called The Bethlehem Bandits which was about a rag-tag bunch of petty criminals (I’m sensing a theme here) who try and rob some shepherds, 3 kings, and a pregnant couple with a donkey. As you can probably guess, the gang eventually end up in a stable to see the newly born baby. I think something was briefly mentioned about how this baby was somehow “special” but without going into too much detail. At the end, we all sang a song with a questionable dance routine. (It was the early noughties).

I’m not really sure why I have shared all that with you, to be honest. Maybe it’s pride over my acting prowess.

Anyway, today’s song has me thinking about the nativity.

We all know the story – pregnant Mary, angels, shepherds, wise men and/or kings, sub-standard inn accommodation. But if it’s all true (indulge me for a moment), what would that have actually felt like?

What would it have been like for Mary? Aside from giving birth in a stable (which in those days were basically just caves full of animal crap. And animals), what was it like delivering such a “special” baby? Giving birth to the son of God – i.e. God in human form.

Today’s song takes a look into that.

With this graceful cover, Youtube famous a capella group Pentatonix have breathed new life into this truly beautiful song of wonder and pondering?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

We can go into whether or not you think it all makes sense another time. Genuinely, comment or message me and I’ll tell you why I believe it. But if this is true. If this true, then surely this is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened.

God. On earth. As a human.

Why? How? For what?

And why do we celebrate it anyway?

These are the questions that Christmas should have us asking.

I’ll leave you to ponder a little and we’ll chat again soon.

 

#EdisXmasCountdown

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music, musings

It’s officially Christmastime! To be fair, I work in retail where it’s been Christmas since mid-August, but now it’s for real! It’s odd because I’m not usually this excited for it, but this year, something is stirring within me, bringing a new wave of seasonal glee that I haven’t felt since I was but a young boy.

To mark this, I thought I’d do something for advent.

So instead of eating a morsel of poorly made synthetic chocolate every day, I’m going to (try to) post a Christmas song – carol or otherise – that I enjoy. You can follow along on Twiter at #EdisXmasCountdown and when I can (hopefully at the end of each week), I’ll post an update here with a little more about the songs.

But to start us off, here’s Day 1.

light-has-dawned

1st December

A Light Has Dawned – Belfrey Music ft. Will & Mim Johnson

You don’t really hear many new carols these days.

Sure, there are a plethora of Christmas songs released every year by artists who are after the never-ending royalties that a yuletide classic brings. But these are all jingle bell-laden ditties about waiting for your partner to come home or kissing them under the mistletoe, filled with cliches and poorly veiled innuendo. Don’t worry, you can look forward to seeing many of those songs later in the countdown. But today’s song is different.

Anyway, last year, some good friends of mine wrote and produced A Light Has Dawned – a modern Christmas song that is actually about Christmas. You know, Jesus and stuff. It’s basically the nativity in song form. In fact, at a huge carol service last year, I saw a modern nativity scene acted out to this track so it really is a modern carol. It’s truly a beautiful song and I especially love the hamronies.

Give it a listen here.

And let’s get ready for Christmas!  25 more sleeps.