Burgundy, Belts and the Baffling Nature of Man’s Simultaneous Desires for Singularity and Assimilation

Fashion

With London Fashion Week Men’s over and Pitti Uomo just beginning, show season is well underway. As the international menswear community flexes their sartorial muscles, I thought I’d do a little outfit post.

I wore this a couple of weeks ago to a meal with my family. I tried to dress things up a little, just to remind my family of my unwavering sartorial dominance over them, but it was just a meal in a casual restaurant so I didn’t want to go overboard.

I built the look around this burgundy polo-neck/roll-neck/turtleneck (I’ve never been quite sure what the official term is). Burgundy is a big colour every autumn/winter season and always looks great on knitwear. Killing two birds with one stone, I’ve tucked it in – simultaneously keeping things fancy while also giving a little wink to 90s style where tucking in was all the rage, as the cast of Beverly Hills, 90120 would tell you.

I love the texture of this wool coat (to be honest, I got it from Primark so it’s definitely not wool, but let’s just pretend). Equally contemporary and classic, it’s one of my favourite coats and it’s great for layered looks as it’s not too thick.

Keeping things simple, I’ve gone for these dark selvedge jeans from Topman that I got in the black Friday sale in 2015. In fact, almost everything in this outfit is from various sales. I love a good sale.

These brogues (regrettably full price) keep things nice and traditional but the blue laces give it a little modern touch, as does this skinny belt (sale, baby!).  It’s nice to play around with colours, shapes and textures to give a sense of individuality – or at least as much individuality as a mass-produced belt from a worldwide franchise can grant.

Ok that’s all I’ve got for you. I’ll let you ponder the nature of our conflicting desires for uniqueness and inclusion in your own time.

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Who Let The Dogs Out?

Fashion

Now that Christmas is over, I can get back to writing about fluffy inconsequential things like my outfits.

I love dogs. One of my favourite things is going for a nice dog walk. Feeling the dog’s excitement as it tugs on the lead, the palpable sense of euphoria as you release it, watching it run around in joy. Love it.

The only problem is I don’t have a dog.

Never one to let circumstance get in the way, I tagged along with some friends. And I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and do a little outfit post too.

This patterned sweater is from Gap. It’s not explicitly a Christmas jumper but has something of a festive pattern to it, meaning that I can wear it all year long . Because I cannot be wasting money on jumpers that only be worn one month a year. That’s just a bad investment.

I’ve gone for some dark indigo jeans from Topman and I borrowed those boots from my friend.

This is my favourite coat. I got it from H&M a couple years ago. It’s got leather lapels but I’ve got a detachable faux fur collar which you can attach to any coat. I find that things in life are generally made better by draping them in fur. Like a dog for example.

Then I’ve topped it off with this cable-knit hat. A navy blue flecked wool cherry on top.

Woof woof.

 

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 11 – 18 #EdisXmasCountdown

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music, musings

It’s exactly a week till Christmas! How are we all feeling? Excited? Exuberant? Expectant? Extra special? Exhausted your list of words that begin with “ex”?

The question is: how are you going to spend your last week of advent? For many, the next 7 days are going to be stressful. For a start, schools have closed for the holidays so poor, poor, unlucky parents have to deal with kids who are coiled up like springs with anticipation.

Then there’s the last minute Christmas shopping, enforced time with distant relatives, and of course the pressure of making it look you’re relaxing and enjoying yourself, regardless of how you actually feel.

Despite all this, advent can be a time of anticipation and reflection. Simultaneously looking forward and backward. For the church, advent is a time of looking forward to the return of Christ to establish His kingdom on earth (bear with me) as well as looking back at the good things God has already done for us.

For folks of a less Christian persuasion, this last week before Christmas can be a time to think about what we’re thankful for and what we’re looking forward to in the new year.

Hey, you know what helps with reflection? Music!

Lucily for you, I happen to have 7 of my favourite Christmas songs listed below for your listening pleasure. Wow, what a coincidence!

Here’s what the last 7 days have sounded like for me.

 

Day 12

Santa Tell Me – Ariana Grande

For day 12, we have another track from everyone’s favourite ponytail-loving soprano. In today’s song Ms Grande prays to Santa (who takes on the role of deity around Christmas time), begging him to let her know if her crush is a keeper or if he’ll disappear by the new year, leaving her heartbroken.

I can’t imagine that Father Christmas is thrilled about being expected to deal with boy problems when his jurisdiction is clearly toys and/or Christmas merriment. And if Marks and Spencer’s advert is anything to go by, his own wife is keeping secrets from him so he might not be the best person to ask for relationship advice

Regardless, this 2014 pop/R&B track is a fun, catchy little number and its low budget video is right on the cute/sexy line – a tightrope on which 2016 Ariana can now somersault with her eyes closed and her arms tied behind her back.

 

Day 13

Lonely This Christmas – KT Tunstall

Taking things down a notch, KT Tunstall’s stripped back cover of this Mud classic reminds us that Christmas can be a lonely time for a lot of people. Whether due a break up like in this song, bereavement, or various other reasons, Christmas isn’t always a time of coming together for everyone.

Eschewing the retro band, KT opts for a lower key sound than the original with just a guitar and her gentle voice.  Beautiful.

It’s quite a sad one today, but that’s ok. Sad isn’t always bad.

Hey that rhymes!

See, things are looking up already.

 

Day 14

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Nat King Cole

Apparently this is one of the oldest carols still in use, having been around at least as long ago as the 16th century. So yeah, pretty old.

This cover is from Nat King Cole’s 1961 Christmas album which I would have described as pretty old until I wrote the above paragraph. So let’s just say it’s been around for a while.

It has a slight creepy edge to it – the pointed vocals, the short, sharp violin strokes, and the booming bass choir all build a sense of mounting tension. It’s basically the musical equivalent of a child’s patience the closer we get to Christmas day

For those interested, there’s some vaguely intriguing stuff about how the words and their meaning have slightly changed over the years. Linguists, check that out here.

For those of you who have lives, just enjoy some lovely music from one of the greats.

 

Day 15

The Christmas Goose – Kate Rusby

My housemate introduced me to this song. Round of applause for Adam, ladies and gentlemen.

While having the feel of something that fishwives would sing a hundred years ago, this song only came out last year. In it, Kate tells the story of a merry traveller in Manchester who meets a beautiful chambermaid in a pub and gets a bit of a surprise when he returns the next year. I’ll say no more than that.

While I would find its repetitive nature annoying in another song, the steady tune allows Kate to paint a picture in your head and tell you a little story.

All together now!

“All around the green wood, so early in the morn…”

 

Day 16

8 Days of Christmas – Destiny’s Child

As I admitted on Twitter, a large part of this song’s inclusion is simply that it just feels wrong to compile a list of music that doesn’t somehow feature Beyonce. I could make a list of the best male accordion players named Ian, born between 1911 and 1913, and still somehow find a way to include Beyonce.

Also, I don’t want to be killed in my sleep by the Beyhive and/or Illuminati which, the more I learn, the more I’m convinced are one and the same.

Released in 2001, this song enumerates 8 things that the trio’s respective/collective boyfriend(s) bought and did for them in the run up to Christmas. Clearly money was a little tight as he couldn’t quite stretch to 12 items like in the other song, but it’s the thought that counts.

Choice items on the list include a diamond belly ring and a gift certificate to buy CDs which serve as a little reminder that this song came out 15 years ago.

 

Day 17

I Want an Alien for Christmas – Fountains of Wayne

Most famous for fancying Stacey’s mother, the boys (read: men) of Fountains of Wayne have now moved on to bigger things, this time setting their sights on an extra-terrestrial. Always wanting things they can’t have.

Once again, singing from the perspective of a child/teen, this early noughties rock track is basically a list of reasons why they should have an alien and how they promise to look after it if they get one.

You have to praise the guys for their ability to get into the mind of a kid because I’m pretty sure I used most of these excuses when asking my parents for things as a child.

With a back catalogue of songs about unobtainable desires, I’m guessing that their next output will be a cover of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths.

 

Day 18

O Holy Night – Katie Melua

Featuring backing vocals from Gori Women’s Choir, this understated cover of the old hymn is featured on Melua’s latest album In Winter.

I love this gentle, stripped back version but if you’re looking for one with more vocal punch, Leona Lewis kills it here. Mind you, Katie holds her own, managing to maintain a note at the end for like 10 seconds seemingly without even taking a breath beforehand.

Originally written as a poem, O Holy Night talks about that fateful night in Bethlehem. That said, it’s admittedly hard to fully appreciate the impact of the lyrics when they are being sung softly sung over a gentle guitar.

Told from the perspective of the shepherds and the wise men, this song tells of their wonder, joy and downright amazement at meeting Jesus. They literally met God.

What would you do if you came face to face with God? The shepherd lads couldn’t believe it. Being a shepherd in those days meant you were pretty low down on the pecking order. Yet they were chosen to witness the birth of the saviour. Mind-blowing.

I’d crap myself if Prince William and Kate had invited me to meet their babies when they were born. I’d probably crap myself if I was invited to be a part of one of the several and ubiquitous Kardashian pregnancies

And what about the wise men? They came a long, long, long, long, long, way. Clearly they were doing all right for money judging by their cavalier attitude to handing gold to a baby, but still their journey would have cost a lot of money and even more time. These guys sacrificed a lot to visit a baby.

But what if he wasn’t just a baby?

Perhaps a little far-fetched, but what if this baby was God’s son? God in a body.

What if this whole Jesus thing is more than just a story we tell at Christmas?

 

Have a great week!

Party Season

christmas, Fashion

I love parties. Love ’em.

Yesterday I went to my work’s Christmas party. When I was at university Christmas ball/party/formal invitations came in thick and fast from various societies and organisations, but since graduating, the well has all but run dry. So yesterday’s was my only proper Christmas party of the season.

So I needed to make the most of it.

Aside from all the food and drink and poor to average dancing, Christmas parties give us an opportunity to get our gladrags on.

Party season is an excuse to get all glitzed up. Materials, textures and colours that we normally wouldn’t go for are suddenly on the table. Tuxedos, evening dresses, silk, sequins, velvet, glitter. Anything’s allowed.

I got this deep purple/burgundy blazer from H&M. Obviously it’s a bit of a statement piece so I’ve tried to keep the rest of the outfit as simple as possible.

After being teased by a friend for my collection of pre-tied bow ties, I recently bought a self-tie one and thought I’d try it out.

It’s harder than it looks.

You can probably tell from the absolute monstrosity around my neck that that was merely my third (semi) successful attempt at tying a bow tie. Ever. So I feel no guilt for inflicting it upon you.

I got these skinny formal trousers from Topman and in classic Edi style I’ve rolled up the hems to show off my socks. The trousers are quite skinny (maybe even a little too skinny if we’re honest) so cuffing the hem makes my legs look a little wider and a little less like drainpipes. A little.

I’ve gone for these tan brogues because they spice things up a little downstairs. By which, of course, I mean that they liven up the otherwise plain bottom half of my body.

Why? What did you think I meant?

To match my bow tie I’ve got a black pocket square (the handkerchief you put in the breast pocket of your suit). Usually a pocket square is a great way to bring a little pop of colour or pattern to your outfit but that’s not necessary with a striking blazer like this so the plain black accessories bring things back down to earth a little.

I also had a scarf that I wore with it but I forgot to wear it in the pictures. Just imagine a really lovely patterned silk scarf. For men.

So there you have it. That’s my party outfit for this year. If you wish to see any more you’ll just have to invite me to your parties.

Your call.

wp-1481980664326.jpg

 

Days 5 – 11 #EdisXmasCountdown

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music, musings

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.

 

Days 2 – 4 #EdisXmasCountdown

christmas, EdisXmasCountdown, music, musings

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!

#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.

 

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Fashion

So I managed to leave all my coats at my mother’s house over summer, which in hindsight, no longer seems like a great idea seeing that it’s now December and that winter has no chill. Or rather, has too much chill.

Anyway, I went home last week to pick up some warmer clothes, and also to see my family and stuff. Revelling in my newfound warmth, I thought I’d put an outfit together.

I’ve gone for a rather simple, understated look, which is fine because I have nothing to prove to you people. That said, I’ve tried spice it up a little with some interesting patterns and textures. You’re welcome.

This cream cableknit jumper has a bit of a preppy look to it, which is something I’m not always able to pull off, so I quite like this one. I got it from Gap last Christmas and when I wear it, people always ask me if I’m just off to play some cricket. The answer is always no.

The coat is from Primark, which I got in the Christmas sales last year. I really smashed it last Christmas, to be honest.

I’ve gone for some dark jeans, once again, keeping it simple. And finally I chucked on these old sneakers which I really like but are absolutely falling to pieces, not unlike my life.

Awkwardly Un-seasonal Outfit

Fashion

I put this outfit together in the summer and didn’t get a chance to post it so I thought I might as well do it now. Things aren’t gonna get any warmer till about April so it’s now or never really.

Naturally, as a summer outfit, it’s a little light on layers, which isn’t exactly appropriate for mid-November in the north of England, so just imagine I’m wearing a big, fluffy fur coat on top.

I got this high neck tee from Boohooman.com. I love the sporty hems around the neck and arms. It’s a small detail but it brings a little bit of excitement to what would otherwise be a boring white t-shirt.

 

For my nether regions, I’ve got these skinny formal trousers from Topman. This definitely isn’t the first time I’ve said it, and it definitely won’t be the last, but formal trousers are great at bringing a touch of class to a casual outfit.

Underneath all that, I’ve got my trusty white sneakers that are definitely on their way out but are refusing to grow old with dignity, much like I intend to.

To give this a winter update, I’d add a thick plaid shirt in navy or red and a casual bomber.