Thanks to Jen for hosting.
As promised last week, here are seven (or more...) of my absolute favorite Christmas song renditions. This is by no means a comprehensive list; there are more Christmas songs that I love than I dislike, but these are definitely among my absolute favorites. I've linked to the CD itself where applicable.
1. Cantique de Noel, A Fresh Aire Christmas, Mannheim Steamroller. This is a version of "O Holy Night" that is absolutely breathtaking. I first heard it while walking across Prexy's Pasture at the University of Wyoming campus on my way to class, listening to the FM radio on my CD player. I stopped dead in my tracks and just listened. As soon as I could, I found the CD for this song and bought it. Mannheim Steamroller is a favorite group of mine, and this rendition is the best instrumental version of "O Holy Night" out there, in my opinion. (Honorable mention from the same CD: Veni Veni, a Latin rendering of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" that will send chills up and down your spine. It's gorgeous.)
2. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Carol, Tonic Sol-Fa. This CD's hard to find (I haven't checked iTunes) but this song is absolutely worth it. Don't get me wrong, the original by Boris Karloff is great, but Tonic Sol-Fa adds some fun a cappela zaniness. (Honorable mention from the same CD: Mary's Boy Child. It's upbeat and animated and doesn't sound like a funeral dirge, unlike most other versions.)
3. Auld Lang Syne, Barenaked for the Holidays, Barenaked Ladies. Hands down, best version of this song out there. Heartfelt and gorgeous. (Honorable mention from the same CD: I Have a Little Dreidel. Crazy happy song. Actually, this entire album is one of my absolute favorites; there are a lot of fun songs.)
4. I Need a Silent Night - The Christmas Collection - Amy Grant.
I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night
For me, this song encapsulates how I feel every Advent -- that it is so important, amid the rush and bustle, to stop and take time to meditate on the coming of our Lord. I'm ashamed to say that this year it seems our family has done more preparing for our trip to Disneyland than we have for Jesus' birthday, although we have made an effort to use an Advent calendar as a nightly ritual (and say prayers over our Advent candles every Sunday). Still, we can do better.
(Honorable mention - Amy Grant's "A Christmas to Remember" album. "Mister Santa" is a fun parody of "Mr. Sandman," and "Gabriel's Oboe" is a gorgeous instrumental song.)
5. The Hallelujah Chorus - An Inconvenient Christmas - The Oak Ridge Boys. Collin and I bought this CD off a Food for the Poor TV special during Christmas 2008, in which the Oak Ridge Boys and Mannheim Steamroller were jointly performing. The Oak Ridge Boys did this song and I was blown away. The harmonies are incredible; it's a difficult song to sing and they mastered it. (Honorable mention: the entire CD is wonderful. "Beautiful Star," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and "An Inconvenient Christmas" are my other favorites, but I love the whole album.
6. Toy Packaging - O Holy Night - Sara Groves.
Nothing makes me lose my cool like
Ask the kids to leave the room for
I have no choice the money's spent
I've worked for hours to make a dent
I guess it's anger management
It's funny because it's true. Back in my day, toys weren't nearly so difficult to get out of their boxes (and I also walked to school in a blinding snowstorm, uphill both ways, with newspaper wrapped around my feet instead of shoes...)
7. Frosty the Snowman - Sharing the Season, Volume III - Lorie Line. I adore Lorie Line. I've seen her in concert and it was a marvelous show. All of her music is terrific - I highly recommend all volumes of Sharing the Season, as well as The Silver Album (which is essentially an unplugged album of solo piano songs). This version of Frosty the Snowman quite simply ROCKS. I mean that literally. (Honorable mention from the same album: As With Gladness. Simple, classic, beautiful.)
Incidentally, Lorie Line got her start at the same place where Collin and I became engaged 10 years ago today -- the downtown Minneapolis Dayton's (which turned into Marshall Fields, which I think turned into something else...). She was hired as a temp holiday employee to serenade the customers with piano music, and she became so popular that she ended up recording an album, and eventually turned professional.)
Oh, what the hell, we're going to make this a top ten because there are three more songs I just have to mention.
8. Feliz Navidad - A Very Veggie Christmas - Larry the Cucumber. Feliz Navidad, featuring a tuba solo and a spontaneous rendition of "The Chicken Dance" midway through. What's not to like? (Honorable mention from the same album: O Santa! "I'm from the IRS, and I've come to tax your--" *slam*)
9. Silent Night - James Galway's Christmas Carol - James Galway. Granted, I'm partial to the flute because I played it all through high school, but I have to say that this rendition of Silent Night is marvelous.
10. Carol of the Bells - O Holy Night - The Hillsboro Singers. Wonderful a cappela version of this song, complete with the deep bass "BUMMMMMMMMM" at the end. Love it. I originally bought this CD out of the clearance bin at Wal-Mart just because I liked the name of the group (Hillsboro is the name of my hometown). It was a good buy.
Feel free to leave comments with your own favorites -- I'm always on the lookout for great Christmas music!
We see TRON: Legacy this afternoon (w00t!) as our little engagement-anniversary excursion, and tomorrow we leave for DISNEYLAND! So excited (even though it's supposed to rain the whole time). Happy Friday!