Wednesday Review: Barenaked for the Holidays (music)

bnl.jpgNo Christmas season is complete without a plethora of music.  Whether it’s the classics of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole or the newer interpretations from Manheim Steamroller or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the music makes it.  As much as I love Bing’s White Christmas and the other familiar holiday hits, I’m always looking for new selections to add to the playlist.  One of my new favorites is the Barenaked Ladies’ Barenaked for the Holidays (don’t worry mom, the Barenaked Ladies are in fact fully clothed men, though they are from Canada).

I discovered this one about three years ago and immediately put it into heavy rotation.  It’s an excellent mix of reinterpreted classics and several very good originals.  They even tossed in a few of Hanukah songs to round things out.  A few of my favorite selections:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings (feat. Sarah McLachlan) – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is one of my favorite Christmas songs and I have many different twists on it in my own collection, but I think this one may be my favorite.  It’s kind of a jazzy, acoustic rendition, and very hip and “with it”, as all the kids are saying these days.  A definite winner.

 

Elf’s Lament (feat. Michael Buble) – What if the elves unionized and went on strike?  Well apparently that’s what they’re considering.  Tired of being pushed around by the “Fat Man” for all these years, the pointy-eared toysmiths have had enough!  It’s a very catchy tune about an elf’s quest for fair wages and benefits.

 

Christmas Pics – A lyrical snapshot of Every Family USA (or maybe in Barenaked Ladies’ case Every Family Canada) during the holidays.  Lines like “brother we don’t agree, about the government or where to put the tree” and “turkey is done, we use our mitts, when is mom gonna get that hearing aid fixed” are like musical Polaroid’s of conversations we’ve all heard or been a part of when all the family is gathered under one roof.

 

Some of the songs on the album (there’s that word again), like I Saw Three Ships, sound like they were recorded in someone’s living room and have a cool sing-a-long feel to them, which almost all Christmas songs should have.  Except for O Holy Night, that’s definitely a soloist’s song.  There are also several instrumental interludes that are consist of just a drum machine and keyboard.  It’s like the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack does Christmas.  You’d think stuff like this would be kinda cheesy and lame, but Barenaked Ladies are (or should it be “is”?  Are they plural or is the band singular?) so talented they all come off really well.  Since it is Barenaked Ladies there is of course some off the wall stuff, like Deck the Stills which is to the tune of Deck the Halls but the only lyrics are Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young repeated over and over again.  Weird, wild stuff.

 All told, Barenaked for the Holidays is a solid addition to anyone’s Christmas (or Hanukkah) music library.

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