Feb 25, 2014

Sounds of a Victorian Christmas

If I had to admit to a Christmas-time pet peeve, it would be this: I’m a Scrooge when it comes to cover versions of classic Christmas tunes: I don’t like them. Bah, humbug, says I.

Hip-hop “O Holy Night?” I don’t think so. “Jingle Bells” by the Austrian Death Machine? Fuhgeddaboudit! Give me those “old-time” Christmas songs delivered by the original artists: let me hear “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by Jimmy Boyd.

It seems that every recording artist is forced to release an album of Christmas tunes, and each song treatment has to be “their own.” Every carol has a jazzy version, a hip-hop version, a hard rock version, a country version and a bluegrass version. Unfortunately, these remakes are hard to avoid; they’re on every radio station and in every department store beginning shortly after Halloween.

Of course, you may not like my choices in Christmas music, either. One’s preferences in music are informed by their age and culture. My choices were shaped by the 1950s. I suspect that Victorian-era carolers would think even less of the Ying Yang Twin’s version of “Deck the Halls (Deck da Club)” than I do. To Victorian ears, “Good King Wenceslas” would sound much better on harp than it would on synthesizer. Read More...

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