SO… You may have noticed that Christmas is coming?
Please tell me you have, otherwise society, corporations and commercial music have failed in their job to enforce jollity, consumerism, and maybe somewhere in there, a break, upon the populace. As such, while doing your weekly shopping, or while hunting for the perfect present for your loved ones, you can’t have failed to notice the music. As someone that used to work in retail, I can promise you, that while you may have noticed Mariah Carey’s rendition of “All I Want For Christmas” maybe once, or barely registered it, the poor shop assistants must smile and ensure that you have the best possible time amidst the commotion, whilst also enduring the Christmas “music”. Please spare a generous thought for these poor souls this Holiday Season. As such, I thought I’d liven up your Christmas time with a comparison of some of the mind melting options of pop/jazz/R’N’B/goodness knows what else, with perfectly lovely classical alternatives!
For starters, Michael Buble. This poor man has enough issues without us overplaying his dulcet crooning tones. He basically hibernates all year until November 31st, where he is dragged out of the pile of CD’s to sing Christmas Carols. Here’s a piece you may recognise, the lovely “Ellen’s Dritter Gesang”, or “Ave Maria” (Yes that’s it’s actual name!) of Franz Schubert, famously covered by everyone looking to add a bit of variety to their Christmas, Easter, Whatever albums. I’m not saying that he doesn’t have an excellent voice for his genre, and he’s certainly sexy to boot, it’s just sad that he performs the hugely ungainly Latin text instead of the original German and proceeds to butcher it. All of the meaning of the beautiful text lost in the wash. Happily though, one of the least obnoxious commercial option on this list.
In the style of a Pinterest Health Post, I thought I’d present you with a healthy alternative to carbs commercial Christmas music. Therefore, swap your Michael Buble for a healthy cup of…
Renee Fleming! Her lovely line, and the beautifully arrangement needs no explanation, merely enjoyment.
Santa Baby is an iconic song of the divinely talented Eartha Kitt, and is another standard, covered left and right, including a recent version by a very talented British A Capella Group “Out of the Blue”. Honestly, along with everything else she recorded this is a bit of a guilty pleasure, it combines an exploration of the underlying avarice of Christmas, with a lot of humour, and tickles our childhood desires for presents on Christmas. The one thing that gets me though, is that it really doesn’t capture the real meaning of Christmas, although, given how personal Christmas is to everyone, maybe Christmas just means the acquisition of a platinum mine? I’m looking at you Miss Rinehart!
It’s such a fun twist on this classic, however, not classical, even though technically it’s beautifully choral. So I tried to find something about giving and the religious significance of Christmas. So you get to hear another great American singer Leontyne Price, one of the first African Americans to hold a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera, sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. I really didn’t expect to find something like this while I was looking about, but a great find. Must say, it’s not the simplest arrangement, but a great carol, very interesting, and an excuse to listen to Leontyne sing beautifully, not in an opera of Verdi or Mozart!
I also would like to tear to shreds the most melismatic feature on this list, Mariah Carey, shrilling out All I Want for Christmas is You. Unfortunately Mariah, all I want for Christmas is for you to stop singing at me from my radio, in store, out of store, from homes, on buses, in other people’s cars and wherever else I go. Instead of listening to this, I’d literally recommend listening to anything else you can get your hands on.
My recommendation for on trend Christmas listening this holiday period is to hunt down churches offering live music for Christmas especially the Cathedrals, or some of the smaller Churches doing excellent work to support the musical traditions of Christmas, as well as the Artists in Perth. Otherwise, there is a lot of carolling going on in the city by extremely talented choral singers, and a lot of the carols by candlelight events dotted around the city will feature excellent Perth singers, who will always be glad of your presence.
And finally, because you can and because you’ll thank me, have Jessye Norman singing over a chorus and an orchestra, singing Oh Holy Night
Written by Ry Charleson