Timeless tunes complete the Christmas season
Halloween and Thanksgiving aren’t real holidays. They only exist to make the time between summer and Christmas bearable. If it were up to me, instead of text, this article would be full of little sound bites you could just pick up and listen to. But because we aren’t quite “there” yet, I will have to rely on my words to express to you just how much I truly love Christmas music.
There’s family, the gift of giving, and hot cocoa. There’s gingerbread, the smell of pine, and snow. But what fuels me are the melodies. Enough to make radio stations give up their Top 10 countdowns during the Christmas season, there is nothing quite like the voice of Heaven itself, Nat King Cole, or the modern-day crooning of Michael Bublé.
True, there are biblical songs, which I can appreciate. It’s probably a good thing to remind us that before it was a holiday to decorate Douglas firs and pass around the eggnog, Christmas was a celebration of Jesus’ birth. And, frankly, tunes about the three wise men, the star of Bethlehem, and the virgin Mary and her child make for some catchy beats.
There are also seemingly nonsensical songs. How much fun was it to add “like a lightbulb!” to the end of the Rudolph song? There’s always a time and a place for the silly. (Although, what’s endearing about listening to a whining little boy with a lisp sing about what he wants for Christmas? And Eartha Kitt, why do you, in “Santa Baby,” so seductively ask Santa to bring you a yacht, decorations from Tiffany’s, and a ring? Sorry, Eartha, but that’s really pushing it.)
Finally, there are instrumental songs. When lyrics become superfluous, all I want to hear is a good symphonic piece. Remember how pumped up you were when little Kevin McCallister was streaming together his master plan of feathers, nails, and hot irons to the crescendos of “Carol of the Bells”?
But above all, there are the timeless songs. My favorite seasonal tunes are the swingy and upbeat ones that grew popular in the ’30s, when the quality of a singer’s voice was not dependent upon the skills of music technicians, and they still dominate today. As part of the boy band generation, I can confidently say that the pop-tastic voices of *NSYNC could never bring the same amount of cheer as can the commanding, crisp, and charming voices of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Andy Williams. Moreover, while Mariah Carey’s vocal range is impressive, she can’t match jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald.
Yet there is still some room for today’s artists. Sufjan Stevens’s whispery-voiced Christmas album is unique, with steady drumming, ringing bells, and strumming banjos. Michael Bublé has a more classic-sounding voice, comparable to but decidedly different from Sinatra’s. I’ve admittedly fallen in love with his renditions of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Grown-up Christmas List.”
So imagine shopping, ice-skating, or cupping your hands around a cup of hot cocoa without the familiar melodies and angelic voices of Christmas. It would be a lonely one indeed. There is no holiday season without its timeless music.