A Holiday Dozen

I mentioned to my friend Max that I had hoped to post a Christmas song every day from December 1st through Christmas Day. When it comes to holiday tunes, I could probably post a favorite Christmas song for every day of the year …

At any rate, rather than spend the time to do that, I was asked by a friend to pick my Top 10 favorite Christmas Albums. How can I do that? I have so many! I could easily pick my Top 10 Christmas albums for each genre – pop, country, classical, jazz, etc… So here is what I decided to do. I took a piece of paper and jotted down the 10 albums I felt were “must have” albums for me every year. I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10, so I made it 12.

In no particular order, here is the Holiday Dozen I came up with:

Ok, you gotta have Bing! He was often referred to as “The Voice of Christmas,” and for good reason! It was an album that often accompanied us while we opened gifts.

A great album of great songs – Brenda Lee, Bobby Helms, Stevie Wonder, Roy Orbison, The Drifters, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin are all represented in this amazing collection!

When Charles Schulz was asked to write a Christmas Special, he said he would on one condition – it had to include the story of Christ’s birth. When he chose the soundtrack for the special, he wanted something that he felt could relate to everyone – so he picked Jazz. Vince Guaraldi’s songs are synonymous with Christmas for me.

Growing up, I always disliked The Christmas Song. I guess I couldn’t relate to it as a kid. As I grew up, it became more and more meaningful to me. This album is full of many other fantastic cuts that never get played on the radio.

This one represents the “novelty” side of Christmas! Yes, it includes the Chipmunks, but it also includes some classic novelty songs from Allan Sherman, Bob & Doug McKenzie, Cheech & Chong, and Weird Al Yankovic. It is also one of the few places you can find Stan Freberg’s Christmas Dragnet. Oh, yeah, and that dumb Hippopotamus song is on here, too (but I skip that one).

This is one that a friend told me about. The story goes that a couple of members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra were sitting around talking one day. They asked each other what they thought Glenn would be doing if he were still around. One of them said “Probably working on a Christmas album.” The idea was born. They contacted former members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra and they recorded this one. It is truly a great album and tribute to Miller.

Bing Crosby may have been called the “Voice of Christmas,” but Frank Sinatra was THE VOICE. This collection includes one of my favorites: Whatever Happened to Christmas. You also get his amazing version of Have Yourself a Marry Little Christmas and other classics.

Some great songs from Al Martino, Jo Stafford, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, and other pop singers of the 40’s and 50’s.

I have talked about this one before. It is just an amazing album with something for everyone. I love listening to Doc and the Tonight Show Band jamming on songs like Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow, and my favorite version of Jingle Bells! You’ll also love the Children’s Choir and Bell Choir on other numbers.

Mel, of course, wrote The Christmas Song, and I just love to hear his version of it. Nat King Cole’s version doesn’t include Mel’s extra lyric: “Love and joy come to you, and a Merry Christmas, too. And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year.” Known as “The Velvet Fog,” Mel’s voice is perfect on Christmas Time Is Here, The Christmas Medley, Sleigh Ride, and a Christmas version of The Glow Worm.

I have so many favorite Elvis Christmas songs that aren’t on this album, but I love how they have added the orchestra to his classics on this album. Santa Claus is Back in Town sounds so much fuller with them. I only wish that they had done If Every Day Was Like Christmas for this album.

Before both of his Christmas albums were made available, they took tracks from both his “Winter Romance” album and “The Dean Martin Christmas Album” and combined them for this collection. I have both of those albums now, but for one collection – I pick this one. Marshmallow World is one of my favorite cuts!

How about you? What’s your Holiday Dozen??

Tune Tuesday: That’s a Rap … A Funny Rap

I hadn’t planned on a Tune Tuesday Blog, however, I stumbled on an article online that was about Comedy Rap songs. Back in March of this year, I did a quick blurb about white rappers before Eminem. Some of these will be repeats, as they would fall into the “comedy” rap category.

Here are some forgotten “comedy” rap songs – some good … some bad:

Rappin’ Duke

Shawn Brown is one who was mentioned in the March Blog. “So you think you’re bad, with your rap? Well, I’ll tell ya, Pilgrim, I started the crap…” I had the 12 inch single of this one. It got Top 40 airplay (which was uncommon for rap songs) when it came out. Still a favorite for me. Duh- Haw, Duh – Haw…..

Wipe Out

The Safari’s had a big hit with the instrumental, Wipe Out. The Fat Boys came along and rapped along with the Beach Boys on this one. Believe it or not – it worked. I remember hearing this song first as a video on MTV. Eventually, it got airplay on the radio, too. I’m sure it was meant to be more of a serious song, but it really falls into the novelty category for me.

Rappin’ Rodney

Rodney Dangerfield got a lot of respect with this top 40 hit. Basically the song is bits from his stand up act with a musical chorus. What helped it get airplay is probably the video for it which featured 80’s singer Pat Benatar and comedian Father Guido Sarducci!

Wet Dream

Comedian Kip Addotta knocks it out of the park with his underwater Pun-fest! This was a song I used to hear often on the Dr. Demento Show. To call this a rap song is pushing it a bit, but the article I saw mentioned it, and I laughed as I recalled the puns throughout it, so I include it here.

Honeymooner’s Rap

Here is one I totally forgot about! Back in the day, Joe Piscopo would do spot on impressions of David Letterman, David Hartman, Frank Sinatra and so many more! He recruited his fellow cast member Eddie Murphy and together they relived some of the great moments from the Honeymooners TV show. Joe is Ralph and Ed is Norton in this comedy rap. I remember running out and buying the 45 of this one.

Do The Bartman

The Simpsons TV show has produced loads of musical gems! Many of those have made their way onto collections like Songs In the Key of Springfield. A song that was a radio hit (and I got requests for it at weddings and parties, too) was Do the Bartman. The song featured Nancy Cartwright as Bart, and also features the King of Pop, Michael Jackson!

White and Nerdy

The list HAD to have Weird Al Yankovic on it! The Weird Al song that made the article I read was Amish Paradise, which is indeed a great parody. However, I think White and Nerdy tops that one. Al’s Parody of Chamillionaire’s Ridin’ (and the hilarious video) was all over radio and TV, not to mention social media and the internet.

Addams Groove

Lord help us! MC Hammer offered up this stinker as a movie tie in to one of the Addams Family movies. It was one of those songs that I hated hearing on the radio. The only thing it is really good for now, is Halloween parties!

City of Crime

In 1987, Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks appeared in a movie based on Jack Webb’s TV show, Dragnet. As yet another movie tie in, Dan and Tom (as their characters from the film) rap together in this one. Yes, there was a video for it and it included choreography by none other than Paula Abdul! It’s something you need to see … even if it leaves you wondering “What the hell was that?!”

The Contra Rap

Here is another I had forgotten about that got lots of airplay on the Dr. Demento show. The Iran-Contra Affair was all over the news from 1985-1987. Impressionist Rich Little had an album out entitled Ronald Reagan Slept Here. It includes some very funny bits with him as Ronald Reagan. One of the cuts on the album was The Contra Rap. It features Rich Little as Oliver North, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. The Capitol Steps also recorded this, but Rich’s is the best.

Feel free to let me know if I missed any. In the meantime, I am sure you can find all of these on Youtube!