Friday, December 04, 2009

Music: Top 5 Secular Holiday Songs

All this month, Shangrila Towers will be serving up various Christmas-themed posts. Today, we'll be looking at some good choices for festive (but secular) holiday music.

The commercialization of Christmas has become infamous, so it's understandable that there is a pretty severe counter-movement to put the "Christ" back in "Christmas." I'm sympathetic (the "Happy Holidays" greeting has always sounded dull compared to the traditional "Merry Christmas," for example) but, to be honest, there are plenty of occasions when you don't want to hit people over the head with religion. Here are a few great holiday songs that have absolutely zero religious content:

Sleigh Ride

A song that started as an orchestral piece by Leroy Anderson with holiday lyrics grafted on afterward. It's a jaunty little tune, with an incredibly catchy chorus (if you don't catch yourself humming the "Giddy-up! Giddy-up! Let's go!" part, you're probably an android or something).

Winter Wonderland

A holiday classic from the 1930s, "Winter Wonderland" is one of those songs that sounds great no matter what tempo it's performed in. You can go slow (see versions by Johnny Mercer or A Fine Frenzy) or fast (pretty much everyone else).

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Sometimes heavyweight composers step up to the plate and deliver great holiday songs. "Let It Snow!" was a product of the legendary Jule Styne-Sammy Cahn collaboration, which produced some of the most memorable movie songs of all time. It has since been covered by everyone and their brother (the above clip is from the short-lived "Megan Mullally Show," which was viewed by about 14 people during its heyday).

Home For the Holidays

This is a thoroughly modern American holiday song, since people usually didn't travel long distances at Christmastime before the advent of nationwide train and plane service. The sentiment expressed (unabashed nostalgia for hearth and home) is a bit saccharine, but hey - what the heck? It's still being sung by the incomparable Perry Como.

Jingle Bell Rock

Holiday songs are usually pretty derivative, but "Jingle Bell Rock" takes it to a whole 'nother level - it uses elements from "Jingle Bells" AND "Rock Around The Clock." Like most pop standards, the song isn't very complicated musically, so dozens of artists have covered it over the years.


At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

other songs that I hate:

Santa Baby
Gramma got run over by a reindeer

Because they destroy the spirit of Christmas, and get played a lot (probably because they are so destructive).

At 7:56 PM, Blogger Mulliga said...

Yeah, I mentally separate the jokey/secular songs from the traditional/religious songs. Some of the former is okay in a mall or something, but sometimes jarring when you're in a church or trying to celebrate with your family.

At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly I prefer the Happy Holiday greeting- not everyone is Christian. There are a lot of Jews out there who are easily off put by that greeting. Not to mention those who are secular, or Muslim perhaps.

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Mulliga said...

"Happy Holidays" is just a little generic-sounding to me - which holidays? And is one supposed to be happy during said holidays?


Post a Comment

<< Home