Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Great Christmas Music Debate

Last week while decorating the house for Christmas and listening to Bing Crosby, Bert declared "This is the whitest Christmas album we own." Having grown up listening to Bing's mellow voice croon out the Christmas tunes, to me it's not inherently white, just classic. Bert disagrees.

What about "The Carpenters?" I inquired.

"Not as bad."

How about "Frank Sinatra?"

"No. At least he rolled with Sammy Davis Jr."

We don't own any Mannheim Steamroller gems (can't stand their inane overly electronic style) so I wasn't able to counter with that example. If I were a betting woman, I'd wager that any Mannheim Steamroller album would beat out Bing for the title of whitest Christmas album.

I then felt the need to call his attention to the fact that there is some diversity in our Christmas music collection:

Nat King Cole (my favorite Christmas album of all time. If you do not own it, buy it and you will not be disappointed. No one has a voice like Nat. No one.), Lou Rawls (fantastic--can't recommend it enough), and "Sounds of the Season: The NBC R&B Holiday Collection," one that we picked up for $4.99 at Target a few years back. I must say that this has been a great compilation album. It includes Christmas hits by R&B favorites such as R. Kelly, Destiny's Child, John Legend, Babyface, Luther Vandross, Macy Gray, Brian McKnight, and Aretha Franklin among others. Some are renditions of classics such as "The First Noel" and "O Holy Night," others are original works, such as "8 Days of Christmas," co-written by Beyonce and performed by Destiny's Child.

Now I love the talented Beyonce as much as the next person, but "8 Days of Christmas" just doesn't do it for me. It starts out with (spoken in a sultry voice) " You know Christmas was made for children. Destiny's children." After a bit more banter, the singing commences "On the 8th day of Christmas my baby gave to me a pair of Chloe shades and a diamond belly ring." At my age I could possibly pull off the Chloe shades, but after 2 kids, the diamond belly ring is definitely out.

My hands-down favorite song on this R&B collection is the decidedly anti-compact "Santa Baby," sung by Macy Gray. I don't know what it is about that song, but I can't get enough of it. The original Eartha Kitt version is superb and Macy Gray definitely holds her own and does a stellar job as well. Madonna's version is horrible, which leads me to believe that no white person should ever try recording that song.

As a Christmas tradition, we usually buy a new Christmas CD each year to add to our collection. Due to the compact, we'll probably forgo that this year (it's OK, we have plenty of music to get us through the season). Yesterday (obviously forgetting about the compact) Bert asked what Christmas album we were going to get this year. I suggested the new Aretha Franklin Christmas CD. His suggestion? James Taylor.

Well, well, who's all about the white Christmas this year, Bert?


amydear said...

I'm laughing about the 8 days of Christmas! But we get the NBC sounds of the season one every year at Target because it generally has a few good songs. I can't find it this year, though, although it was advertised. Not on my favorites list is one by Usher that includes sultry whispers of things like "Baby, I just couldn't have Christmas without you" and other nonsense. It always reminds me of Milli Vanilli (hey, you brought it up first). "Well, I set back and thought about the way things used to be . . ." Can you finish it??

Steve and Kenna said...

I think we need to come hear some of your white Christmas Music.

Mary Poppins said...

amydear--i know usher is talking directly to me when he says that. i'd like to think milli vanilli (or the voice for milli vanilli) was talking to me as well when saying "it really meant a lot to me. you mean a lot to me. girl you know it's true!"

kenna--come on over baby.

Maren Hansen said...

You'll appreciate this blog site:
Stuff White People Like

Mary Poppins said...

maren--well hello there and thanks for the heads up. i'll check it out.