Lola’s Christmas music countdown spectacular

Lola decided to continue the tradition after her musical Halloween countdown received rave reviews. So, courtesy of Lola’s Facebook page, and with her permission, this is the first week of her musical Christmas countdown. Merry listening!

Welcome back to my lair for yet another Countdown! This one was much harder to do. Unlike Hallowe’en, whose boundaries are much less defined, Christmas music is a specific “genre,” a genre loosely defined by “relating to winter and/or Christmas” and much of it extremely overplayed. I was able to say “this sounds spooky” and thus fits in the Hallowe’en category and thus had a treasure trove of material with which to work, Christmas isn’t even remotely as easy in that regard. After all, the list of things that can be considered scary or kitschy in a way Hallowe’en can appreciate probably goes on for ages, but Winter is only one season. However, it was a lot of fun finding the obscure gems I fill my wintertime with and being able to shine a spotlight on them for once. Weirdly, unlike the Hallowe’en one, I only had this done the night before, and even then, the last day or so are a little undefined. But I had to do it, as a sort of Christmas present/Thank You to those who followed my previous Countdown so intently, it really meant a lot to me, and I was happy, as always, to make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Having each day have a theme was never necessary to begin with, but it was fun and I think allowed excitement for what each would hold. In the end, I didn’t succeed on a full 7-day theme system again, but was clever enough to find a silly excuse for why the week was only 5 days long. For quite a bit, I had believed I could only get to twelve songs that weren’t too overplayed, but how many now? It’s at least 19. We’ll find out if I can pull any other tricks out of my sleeve. What’s particularly cool is that at least one of the days allows an approach to the Holidays that’s darker, and often a bit more honest. That’s a side we don’t see very often when we fatten ourselves with Thomas Kincade simplicity, but we know it’s there, lurking just out of sight, peering out slightly when our relatives say something that reminds us why we don’t actually talk with them terribly often.

The Holidays inspire a lot of music because of the heavy tradition that they hold. The traditions are really precious to people the world over, including, of course, myself; and thus are excellent material for poetic tangents—however banal they can be. However, there’s also an absolute corporate side to it. These are times of great spending, even, notably, over a long term, as not only can you cash in, but if you cash in a way that’s catchy enough there’s a chance that people will make them part of the traditions they revisit every single year–and then you’re basically set for life on THAT investment.

One of my favorite moments of the Holidays involves the music. It’s not one that everyone, particularly nowadays, gets to experience—but the singing of Christmas songs and carols in their wonderful, classy harmonies, the caroling in front of Santa’s House Downtown and in front of audiences with a choir, it’s truly magical and makes me feel like I’m making an effort to really capture the feeling I’m singing about. Chances are anything that qualifies as my “Favorite Christmas Song” are on this list. They’re not coming until a bit later, I think, but the choral song “Out of the Orient Crystal Skies” by Richard Zgodava, performed at a much slower tempo than is actually written in its real sheet music, gives me chills, and “Just For Now” by Imogen Heap, which takes a much more honest approach to the holidays than what you normally hear, arrived for me one Christmas on a day I really needed to hear it. I’ll be posting a live performance of it, but I recommend hearing the recorded one as well, as the differences are notable.

I hope everyone has a wonderful season, whatever it is they celebrate, and as before, I hope that this countdown will help make their holidays even the slightest bit more wonderful.

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(01) GROOVESDAY. HAPPY DECEMBER, DEAREST LISTENERS! Your self-proclaimed hepcat is back with a new festive feast of musical munchies to coddle your Christmas cravings! It’s Lola’s Christmas Countdown SPECTACULAR! This Countdown has a brilliant plan I’m sure anyone who truly loves the holiday can appreciate—a method for tricking the universe into bringing Christmas sooner! How’s that, you ask? By following the same format as we did in October—a category for every day of the week—all FIVE of them. wink emoticon Get it? Today, as everyone knows, is of course GROOVESDAY. (I really think this is going to work!) Groovesday is the treasured day of the week devoted to your needs for Christmas Jazz! Well, we started off our journey into Hallowe’entown with the impeccable pipes of Kay Starr, so let’s do the same here with the song of hers that put her on my radar LAST Christmas–The Man with the Bag!

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(02) NERDSDAY. As everyone knows, this day of the week, a week of course being comprised of only five days, is Nerdsday. It’s that special day when all of the geek that’s been building up over the rest of the week, ready to burst, finally does so in a glorious nebulous rainbow that smells good but has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for consumption. As this is my CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN SPECTACULAR, I will of course ensure that any of my weekly Nerdsday discharge bears the distinctive flavor of our joyous holiday. Whereas later, other people’s fandom creations will be on display during this countdown, today, you have the privilege of sampling something that actually is mine, a piece I wrote back at the start of high school and still feel immensely proud of. Enjoy!

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(03) SADDERDAY. Welcome back to my Countdown Spectacular, darlings! Isn’t Christmas just the most wonderful time of the year? HA! Sadly, not always. Let’s be frank, the holidays can be extremely stressful and depressing. In honor of this, but also because I am a being of little mercy or compassion for my fellow man, I have christened the third day of my clearly not fake week system SADDERDAY—the day of Christmas celebration set aside for releasing the pent-up frustration the holidays bring with them. Let us begin with this cheerful ditty by none other than the Nostalgia Critic himself. As should be expected from the title, the lyrics are very family-unfriendly and probably NSFW. Enjoy~

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(04) SUNGDAY. Perhaps the most awkwardly-named day of the week, but one of the most beautiful—the COUNTDOWN SPECTACULAR day in celebration of Choral music~! Here is a piece that my own San Luis Obispo High School Concert Choir, yes, including me, performed that has rung true for me every year since. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate any season with all the meaty robustness one’s heart deserves. Many thanks to Paul Osborne for the recording.

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(05) Scoresday. Hello! It’s Lola again! Would you like to know one of my favorite things in the whole world? Film Soundtracks! It should come as no surprise then that Scoresday is one of my favorite days of the entire week. In today’s installment of Lola’s Christmas Countdown Spectacular, we pay homage to Christmas through the perusal of an expanded detail. Remember in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (the movie) when for the briefest of seconds we hear a carol sung by a trio of ghosts? That’s just a tiny sliver of an entire song that was written by John Williams for the film. We get to hear three iterations of that piece today. We begin with the version that made it into the first official soundtrack, the entire carol with an eerie drone resembling the leitmotif used for the Invisibility Cloak, then hear the voices isolated on a later soundtrack, and finish with a much cheerier and no less official cover of the melody done with bells, which also made it into the film for just as brief a moment. Without further ado, Cast a Christmas Spell.

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(06) Groovesday. Already at the beginning of December’s second week, we call back to the Duke himself for our Jazz quota. Did you know that Duke Ellington took a crack, in his own style, of course, at the entire Nutcracker suite? Pretty cool, eh? Here’s his sliiiick take on probably the most famous of the pieces from that Suite. Hope you’re enjoying my countdown!

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(07) NERDSDAY. On the second day of the second week of the second countdown, we look to the fandom of one of the most indescribable of all creative projects: Homestuck. Getting into what Homestuck IS if you don’t already know is an exercise in futility, but it’s pretty wonderful for the most part, but despairingly lengthy. Anyway, this semi-animated, semi-interactive webcomic is known for its music; and its fandom, with the help of musicians responsible for some of the project’s official soundtrack, produced a Christmas album one year. Enjoy this very pretty and festive take on Skaia’s memorable leitmotif!

 

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