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Christmas 2015 White House Mixtape

Posted by Billyjam, December 25, 2015 08:08am | Post a Comment

Destiny's Child "8 Days of Christmas" (2001): 1 of 14 songs on 2015 White House Holiday Mixtape


Yesterday the White House, via a published Spotify playlist, unveiled the playlist (left) chosen by the president and First Lady (The First Playlist?) for this 2015 Christmas/holiday season. Descriptively entitled Holidays with the Obamas, the virtual mixtape noticeably does not include any hip-hop by the man dubbed by many as the "first hip-hop president." Not even Run-D.M.C.'s ubiquitous holiday hit "Christmas In Hollis" (slightly devalued IMO by its use in a car commercial) that was first released in 1987 when the president was 26 and Michelle was 23 and they were both reportedly fans of hip-hop & rap. Also absent are such hip-hop friends and guests of the current White House as Common and Jay-Z. But then come think of it, neither recorded Christmas songs that I am aware of. However Hova's wife and fellow former White House performer Beyonce did make the current playlist, as part of the female trio that catapulted her to fame.

A live version of Destiny Child's "8 Days Of Christmas" (video above) from the 2001 album of the same name ranks along with such other soul-fueled holiday classics as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (just reissued on 10" picture disc), and Stevie Wonder’s “Someday At Christmas.”  Also here is The Jackson 5’s “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (audio below), which was initially released on the 1970 full-length Jackson 5 Christmas Album (one of three albums released by the group that year). Released a decade before they were even born, but remaining a Christmas classic ever since, is Eartha Kitt's 1953 recording "Santa Baby." The song has been covered over the decades since by other artists such as Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande.

New Orleans-born Bay Area soulstress/actress Ledisi's version of "Silent Night" is included as are Brian McKnight and Boyz II Men’s “Let It Snow,” and the late great Luther Vandross' 1995 recording "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" (audio below).  As with any music list compiled by any person (especially POTUS), people will find fault and question why such a song was included or why another was not. My critique was, why no rap?, while another's was how come "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto" by James Brown was not included? It's all subjective so we can wonder all we want. However, more telling will be future Barack Obama Christmas playlists after he no longer holds the office of president and will be free to really let loose and include anything he truly wants. I'm visualizing a hardcore rap Xmas playlist featuring songs like the recently reissued Eazy-E "Merry Muthafukin Xmas." But we'll just have to wait and see.

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5 New Holiday Vinyl LPs That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 11, 2015 02:40pm | Post a Comment

cool holiday lpsWhen you're looking for holiday music, there are always the old reliables, but sometimes we need some fresh tunes. Just like we did last year, here are a few great new holiday albums that have just been released on LP.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-KingsIt’s a Holiday Soul Party

sharon jones it's a holiday soul party lpSharon Jones & The Dap-Kings come up with a winning set of originals and classic holiday tunes, all rendered in their impeccably performed and produced retro-funk-soul style. The band strikes all the right notes, from celebratory (a “White Christmas” rave-up is an easy standout) to wistful (“Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects” and “Please Come Home for Christmas” are especially touching). It hangs together beautifully as a set and would work perfectly as an upbeat backdrop to any holiday soiree.

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8 New Holiday Releases That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 10, 2014 05:04pm | Post a Comment

holiday releases that don't suck

Last year I made a list of 10 holiday albums that don’t suck. Well there’s a whole batch of new ones out now, so listen up!

Mark Kozelek Sings Christmas Carols

mark kozelek sings christmas carols lpIndie rock firebrand Mark Kozelek, who released one of the best albums of 2014 with his Sun Kil Moon release Benji, makes a perfect fit for these churchy holiday tunes, with his cozy, crackling voice and gentle acoustic fingerpicking. The song choices are obvious, yet Kozelek imbues them with such spare beauty that it’s impossible not to be touched by classics like “Away in a Manger.”

 

Seth MacFarlaneHoliday for Swing!

seth macfarlane holiday for swing lpWhat do you know? “Family Guy” and “American Dad” creator Seth MacFarlane ain’t a bad crooner. Actually I guess we all already knew that, since he sings regularly on “Family Guy” and released an album already, 2011’s Music Is Better Than Words, but it’s still remarkable to hear him play it straight, rein in the sarcasm and keep it classy—you keep waiting for him to drop an F-bomb or toilet joke, but he doesn’t. He works with a 52-piece orchestra here, singing only a couple of well-known classics like “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and picking a few lesser-known tunes from the ’50s and ’60s.Best are his duets with Norah Jones (“Little Jack Frost Get Lost”) and Sara Bareilles (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).

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10 Holiday Albums That Don't Suck

Posted by Billy Gil, December 12, 2013 10:38am | Post a Comment

10 Holiday Albums that don't suck

If you’re like me, most Christmas music makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a sharpened candy cane. Luckily, since everyone and their mother has attempted a holiday album (I mean, most of them are X-mas-centric), there are some gems in the mix.

 

The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album/Christmas With the Beach Boys

beach boys christmas albumThe Beach Boys and Christmas music go together like Christmas and getting drunk. It’s an obvious choice, sure, but this album also wins because of the originals, which they put just as much effort into as their regular classics. “The Man With All the Toys” kicks enough ass to be listened to all year round.

 

 

A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector

a christmas gift for you phil spector cd amoebaSome would say the greatest Christmas album of all time, featuring classic productions by Phil Spector, with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love and other Spector favorites. Every other version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sucks compared to this one.

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This Mistletoe Belt's For You: Christmas Rapping with the Yule Logs!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 10, 2010 10:00am | Post a Comment

yule logs band christmas hannukah holiday rock chico california reindeer

You don't have to love the holidays to love the Yule Logs, but for me it was love at first listen! Seeing them headline the annual "Christmas is the Best!" bonanza last year was an absolute blast and just thinking about their show coming up this Sunday at Amnesia in San Francisco (festivities begin with holiday crafting and shitty gift giving at 7pm, show at 9) has got me all worked up like a little insomniac on the night before Christmas --- baby, I can't wait! Making spirits bright since 2005, vocalist Marty Parker, bassist Kirt Lind, guitarist Maurice Spencer and drummer Jake Specher dole out hit after original hit of Christmas and Hannukah jams and spruced up traditional holiday classics with such contagious enthusiasm and flawless four-part harmonies that one cannot help but drink their kool-aid. With a good-time party sound that recalls British Invasion class, California surf-rock sass, pop savvy hooks and non-stop borscht belt humor the Yule Logs'll have your shoes off and your socks twistin' under your feet dancing their "Hannukah Mambo," fist-pumping to their "Runaround Rudolph" (featuring guest appearances by presidents William Howard Taft and Richard Nixon, along with Elvis "the King" Presley) and swooning for their rendition of Wham's "Last Christmas." Recently I rapped with the boys from Chico, California about their music, their muses and their state of holiday affairs, and their status as a "the world's premier Christmas and Hannukah rock 'n roll band;" here's what they had to say:

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