Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is there any good Christmas pop?

Well, although I've just heard All I Want For Christmas Is You, I must admit that there are many songs that I dislike much more than Mariah Carey's contribution to the genre.
In general Christmas pop songs leave me pretty cold but there is one however, and it was a topic of conversation at work today, that does not and that is the 1987 collaboration between The Pogues and (the late) Kirsty McColl: Fairytale Of New York. It is still quite untouchable - and amazingly is now twenty years old. The message is that good ones don't come around very often and, in my opinion, the second-best is genuinely American and is the original release of Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses
(they were from Kent, OH) in 1981.
In 1998 it was, and I'm sorry if you had now successfully forgotten this fact, covered by The Spice Girls on the CD(1) single release of Goodbye. It was not one of their finest moments
and the less said about that version the better.
As for Christmas albums, particularly compilations, they are only worse as they are so much longer! The only one, and it is not a compilation, that I can deal with is this and it is a quite different proposition. Most would probably not even consider it to be such a thing, although it is, and I'm currently listening to it quite voluntarily.

Abriendo Puertas dates from 1995 and, although originally released in the US, could hardly be further removed from Bing Crosby's White Christmas or for that matter the usual Christmas weather here in the UK. (White Christmas, the song, was written by Irving Berlin in 1940 and first became famous as it was used in the 1942 musical Holiday Inn and thus well before the 1954 film White Christmas, in which it was also used.)
That was long before global warming but the point is still relevant; one original verse, omitted in the musical due to legal concerns and always subsequently, concerned an un-named rich resident of Los Angeles who hankered after a traditional winter up-north!
That the second track Dulce Amor which, as well as the pervasive Mariachi influences, features a short but nevertheless quite recognisable melody sampled from Walking In A Winter Wonderland that only makes it better still. The Eurythmics recorded a version of the original song and its exact origin is unknown with music by Trad and a lyric courtesy of Anon - prolific artists both. Rather later Mandy Moore also covered it and the fact that it was never released in the UK probably says all that needs to be said about that version.

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