LISTEN WITH MONGER'S FESTIVE ROUND-UP: 2022
Every year I get sent an increasing number of festive tunes and I do my best to cover them all in the hope that I'll uncover a future classic in the genre. Here is my round up of the offerings (good and bad) that 2022 has given us. Read on if you dare...
We're kicking off with the iconic Weather Girls and their festive offering 'Celebrate Christmas' which features the talents of Gunn and Blizz Bugaddi. It's uplifting, club ready and based around 90s House vibes with that trademark vocal so there's nothing to be offended by here but I think it does lack a certain Christmas sparkle and magic. A bit like a Christmas special filmed in LA during a July heatwave - it just doesn't feel right.
More information: https://www.christmasmusic.com/artists/the-weather-girls/
The first cover of the year comes from Karine Hannah with her take on the classic 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. It's a faithful rendition with piano, strings and a dusky voice snuggling up by the fire beneath the mistletoe and watching the flames flicker in your eyes. Perfectly good for the season and inoffensive so pop this one in the background as you close down for Christmas and you can't go wrong.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/karine.grauer
Sufjan Stevens is a bit of a staple of the modern Christmas song scene but this time he's the guest of Rosie Thomas on the duet 'We Should Be Together'. This is a delicate acoustic and vocal harmony thing of beauty that perfectly captures that feeling of wanting to be with the one or ones you love at Christmas time. The vocals are delivered with ice thin energy speaking of the fragility and and strain a lot of people can feel at the end of another year but there is hope and optimism here too and that's what it's all about, right?
More information: https://www.facebook.com/rosiethomas
South African duo Future Radio bring the rock and ska energy on 'Another Christmas Song' which bounces and spins with mosh-pit energy but also mirrors the energy of a 6 year old at 3.00am on Christmas Day. If you like Blink 182 or Reel Big Fish then this will be right up your street but, despite the guitar riff inspired by Jingle Bells, it doesn't feel massively sparkly. It is a lot of fun though.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/futureradioband
LA's Cimo Frankel has tapped in to that R'n'B Christmas vibe on 'This Christmas' which is part love song and part ode to Christmas. Smooth, soulful vocals, a sparse musical arrangement and the kind of lyrics that are both original and easy to learn make this a radio friendly option. Put this song in the hands of someone like the Weeknd and it would be an out and out hit so this could well be a new addition to your festive playlist.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/cimofrankelofficial
I've really enjoyed the musical output of Bishop Briggs in 2022 so I was delighted to receive her festive offering. 'Cheer' is absolutely full of Christmassy sparkle, piano stabs, sleigh bells and the sound of snow falling on a string quartet. Briggs' vocals are as delicate as snowflakes as she sings of cookies, ribbons, laughter and snowfall with charm, vulnerability and pure joy. File this alongside Sia's Christmas songs and revel in a new classic. I think this is the one.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/BishopBriggs
'Single All The Way' is Toronto duo Goodnight Sunrise's offering for the yuletide period and it fits firmly in the rock'n'roll Christmas category. Choppy guitars, urgent drums and punk-pop vocals take on the issue of loneliness at Christmas with a little defiance and a lot of energy as they embrace the joys of being single and not waiting for the "rom-com ending". One for those that find themselves alone at Christmas and are just fine with that thank you very much.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/gnsrband
The award for most intriguing title goes to Havanna Winter's 'Daddy's Kissing Santa Claus!' which has an innocent 1950s charm to it melodically but don't be fooled. As the song progresses, Winter's take on a very modern family Christmas tackles a variety and complexity of a family Christmas in 2022 but with charm and the breathy vocals of Ariana Grande. Christmassy and fun, undeniably.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/havannawinter
London based globe trotting collective Los Bitchos bring their unique instrumental style to the holiday season with their offering 'Los Chrismos'. Imagine the theme tune to a 70s sitcom Christmas special based in Mexico and you're well on your way to finding this tune. Slick and cheeky guitars romp along with the bubbling bass line and hip swayingly infectious beat to make the kind of melody that will have you dancing and sipping Christmas cocktails by the pool within minutes.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/thesebichezzz
Devon trio Pylon Poets have gone for the Bon Jovi meets the Darkness approach to their Christmas track 'Say That You'll Stay'. Big guitars and a rock arrangement make for the perfect slow dance at the end of the office Christmas party with that colleague you've been admiring from afar all year. This has all the requisite Christmas magic and a little of the end of year regret which always helps tug at the heart strings.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/PylonPoets
Another track from LA courtesy of Sara Noelle but this time with a wintry and ethereal vibe. 'I'll Sleep Til Christmas' broods in the snow filled woods before building slowly in to a thing of delicate beauty and intricate magic. Noelle's vocals are breathy and soft, the sprinkled flute melody is perfectly pitched and the whole thing is like a lullaby to soothe your weary soul as the year winds to an end.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/saranoellemusic
Cornish singer-songwriter Nell Davies has stayed on brand with her single 'Christmas Karaoke' which is a perky two minutes in length but regular readers will know that Davies is the queen of mixing jaunty melodies with cutting lyrics. The message this time is a massive roll of the eyes at the forced fun of office Christmas parties and the idea that you're 'boring' or 'no fun' if you don't join in. We've all been there but Nell Davies wrote a song about it and included the lyric "Mariah fucking Carey and Shakin' fucking Stevens". Legend.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/NellDaviesMusic
Noah Cyrus and PJ Harding have teamed up for a gorgeous duet called 'Christmas in LA' which feels and sounds festive enough but has a sting in the tail. The simple arrangement and careful placement of bells is pure yuletide vibes but the lyrics speak of California fires and the lack of festive spirit in New York in a world that has lost the sheen that the past on the Christmas season. If you're looking for a Christmas song that is a little more 'real' then this is for you - personally I'd like a whole album of these two collaborating but this will do me just fine for now.
Noah Cyrus - https://www.facebook.com/NoahCyrus
PJ Harding - https://www.facebook.com/pjhardingmusic/
From LA to Soho as Rowsie bring us 'Christmas in Soho' and a scratchy indie take on the holiday season. This track sounds like a long-lost Fleetwood Mac studio jam of a Christmas song that never made it to market as the countrified guitars and driving beat match the vocal harmonies perfectly. There's romance, regret, loss and love all wrapped up in an uneven bow and that, for me, is the spirit of Christmas in London town right there.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/RowsieBand
A mash up of the Shamen and Charles Dickens? Yes please. Dan G has brought together 'Ebeneezer Goode' and Scrooge for 'Ebeneezer Scrooge', a Victorian rave anthem in aid of Childhood Cancer Charities. Melodically it's a faithful homage to the original tune but lyrically there's a big focus on scroogey behaviour which is more in keeping in with the times we live in. Not the most musically festive but certainly a treat - "Anyone got any goose? Lovely".
More information: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087489136266
Montreal's Stars bring the downtempo 'Christmas Anyway' to the table which has that sad but hopeful anthem thing going on. Strummed guitars, gorgeous vocal harmonies and a cracking beat make for a festive feel but there is a seam of regret and memories of Christmas' long gone running through this and sometimes it's nice to take some time to wallow in that kind of mood.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/starsstars/
Back to LA again for duo JYNX and their offering 'High 4 Christmas'. Fans of Brassy and Princess Superstar will love the lo-fi hip-hop vibes as they sing of wanting to just get high all Christmas to cope with the family stress and all the associated madness of traditions that you have no connection with. Is this the natural successor to 'Christmas Wrapping' by the Waitresses? I think so. Also, any vegans out there suffering the annual challenge of having to explain what that means to parents/grandparents for the 17th time will relate.
More information: https://www.jynx.la/
A rare cover this year as Sam Scherdel and Harri Larkin take on the don of Christmas songs, 'Fairytale of New York'. The piano notes ring out, the vocals are dusky and slurred and the vocals perfectly pitched but there's a more folky feel to this like you're hearing it in the back corner of a Dublin bar on a cold and windy night. I genuinely think this is not only better than the original but also has the emotion pitched better as the bitterness, regret and tired anger are underpinned with an undying and unavoidable love and loyalty. Perfection.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/samscherdel
New Yorkers Tempt release 'Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You' and it is a brilliantly rocky romp. If you're in to Slade, the Darkness or even Wizzard at this time of year then this will have you rocking around the Christmas tree in no time with big guitars, sing-a-long vocals and drums that bounce gleefully along. An absolutely joyous slice of Christmas cheer.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/Temptband
Just when you didn't know you needed an all female Slade, along comes SLADY for your entertainment. The quartet infuse the song with all the raunch and raw energy of the original but with more of a growl in the vocals that is more about rock'n'roll spirit than it is about chain smoking Benson & Hedges. Is it innovative and ground braking? No. Is it bloody good fun and a shot in the arm of an old classic? Too right bub.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/SLADYtribute
If someone had been artificially inseminated with the joint 'essence' of Marc Almond and Elvis Presley, Alex Exists would be the result and his release 'Never Christmas Without You' would be held up alongside the other 'family' hits. Twangy guitar, bells and a choir all lay out like a blanket of snow atop the plodding bass line and tinkling ivories for that ultimate Christmas vibe tinged with heartbreak and loss. Delicious...I'll have another glass please.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/alexexistsworld
Welsh outfit Codewalkers have thrown their Santa hat in to the ring with their festive single, 'Santa Is A Pimp'. There is nothing remotely festive about this song but there is a strong Dust Junkys vibe which I am here for all day long. Lyrically, this is story of an elf who has finally had enough of poor working conditions and not getting enough recognition for the work he does. It is, I think it's safe to say, a unique take on the Christmas season.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/CodewalkersBand
Post a Comment