We all hate the played out holiday tunes that we’re forced to hear every year in malls, grocery stores, offices, and restaurants beginning at the end of November (or for those of us in Canada, the beginning of November). I can’t say I unequivocally hate Christmas music, just the Christmas music I hate. Here are ten songs that might change your mind about holiday tuneage.
The tinkling piano lines, rolling brushed drums, and sprightly tempos of Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to the classic TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas are a welcome sign of the holiday season. Guaraldi’s keyboard treatments of classic Christmas songs like “Greensleeves,” “O Tannenbaum,” and the classic children’s choral arrangement of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” give these classics a new sound. Some of his originals, such as “Christmas Time is Here,” portray the loneliness and melancholy of the holiday season though a few minor chords and a contemplative melody. Other new songs, like the bright, upbeat “Linus and Lucy,” sound like the rush of energy you sometimes felt as a kid around the holiday.
You might have the word “Krampus” around the Internet lately and wondered what it meant. It’s something I only discovered last December and have always meant to investigate further. Luckily, dear readers, you can now benefit from my research into this ancient tradition!
Wikipedia has a brief, but helpful description: “Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish bad children during the Christmas season, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards nice ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.”
This sounds absolutely amazing to me. The website Krampus.com has an even more detailed and frankly disturbing description which details that the creature is “the dark companion of St. Nicholas” and often depicted as a devil-like beast with “horns, cloven hooves, and a monstrous tongue.” Not only does Krampus punish bad children, he also “swat[s] them with switches and rusty chains before dragging them in baskets to a fiery place below.” This actually reminds me of the demon figure in Insidious, which, Darth Maul jokes aside, scared the crap out of me for months.
I am about to share what I’m sure will be an unpopular opinion. I don’t care for It’s a Wonderful Life.
In case there’s anyone out there who hasn’t seen it, It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 film directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Henry Tavers. Stewart plays George Bailey, a building-and-loan manager who is thrown into crisis on Christmas Eve when his uncle (a co-worker) misplaces $8,000 that was meant to be deposited in the bank. Faced with criminal charges over the money and beset by lot of small emergencies at home, George contemplates suicide and wishes aloud that he’d never been born. A kindly angel named Clarence (Tavers) comes down and shows George what the world would be like if that were the case.
New this week on Popshifter: I give thanks and praise to “Echoes From The Sleep Room,” the last lecture in The Black Museum’s series and explain how shaking off the movie Excision is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
By Cait Brennan
Ernie Kovacs is rightly regarded as television’s first genius. Dynamic, irreverent and uncompromising, Kovacs pushed TV technology to its limits in the service of his anarchic comic brilliance. More than that, Kovacs was larger than life. His personal motto was “Nothing In Moderation,” and he lived up to that billing until the day he died.
Few mere mortals could hope to keep up with his madness. But he met his match the day he met Edie Adams. Smart, sexy, sultry and with a voice like butter, Adams was everything Ernie needed: merry co-conspirator, brilliant comic foil, and a tremendously versatile actress and vocalist that brought elegance and heart to the proceedings. Kovacs’s life, and for that matter his untimely death, cast a big shadow, and Edie’s talents have often been unfairly overlooked.
Thankfully, the lady’s finally getting her due. From the formidable Kovacs/Adams archive and the good folks at Omnivore Recordings comes The Edie Adams Christmas Album, featuring Ernie Kovacs, a warm, charming, and nostalgic record featuring 15 never-before-heard holiday classics. It’s the perfect antidote to contemporary holiday angst and a testament to Adams’s vocal gifts.
By Melissa B.
How fortunate the New Orleanians are: Once Christmas and New Year’s are over, they get to move straight into Carnival season. Parades, food, music, revelry, and the finest of these things, I’d wager, is the music.
I’ve often wondered how New Orleans can have so many obscenely talented, homegrown musicians. Is it the food, the humidity, the heritage, the proximity to water? Is there a great funk reservoir that all of the drinking water comes from? Do they put it in babies’ bottles at birth? Whatever causes it, there is a bumper crop of amazing New Orleans music out there and Meet Me At Mardi Gras puts it all in one convenient disc, making a party in your living room, or car, or ears. What have you.
Everyone has their favorite holiday classics to sing along to while trimming a tree, wrapping gifts, baking cookies, or traveling to be with loved ones. But has anyone ever stopped to think about what’s actually behind most holiday songs?
One in particular has always struck me as incredibly confusing. “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” is heard all over the world in many different iterations, but the gist is always the same. This is the least-festive holiday song ever! Someone’s grandmother is killed in a freak accident, and their first question is what to do about her presents?! It’s like the Asshole National Anthem. (more…)
By Danny R. Phillips
Halloween, for as long as I can remember, has been my favorite holiday. Christmas is too shiny, Thanksgiving is too anxiety fueled (I come from a large, loud family), and Valentine’s Day is a joke. But Halloween? That’s one I could get behind.
The darkness, the pranks, the unlimited imagination, the scary movies on TV, the candy . . . the perfect holiday. So, if you have the same feelings about the darkest night of celebration, then Halloween Nation: Behind The Scenes of America’s Fright Night is for you.
By Lisa Anderson
The romantic comedy: it’s the most reviled of genres, and yet also the most resilient. There’s an assumption that men only go see them out of obligation . . . although men are likely to enjoy the good ones, and women are likely to dislike the bad ones. Too many rom-coms rely on mutually insulting stereotypes (the commitment-phobic man, the miserable career woman), predictable plots (boy meets girl, boy does something stupid), and problematic supporting characters (Sassy Black Friend, Sassy Gay Friend).
Nevertheless, they keep getting made, and they keep making money. This is because among the scores of bad rom-coms, there are gems. Almost everyone can think of a few that have actually made them laugh, and managed to resonate with their feelings and experiences. Here are a few of mine, in no particular order.