Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Contribution from Y2K to the Repository of Classic Christmas Music

[re-posted from December 6, 2014, to update the Casablancas/Fallon link]

Well, it's ChristmaHanuZaa time again, and, as I did once before, I'm again going to go out with a post at the Holidays with no ERISA tie-in. This time, here's a note on Xmas music. (I guess I could try to make some kind of strained connection between the "contribution" reference in the title of this post and a reference to "employer contributions", but I won't do that.)

I've always been a big fan of Christmas songs, with "Feliz Navidad" probably being my favorite from way back, heading into the '90s. But I also look for new standards, too. And when it comes to American pop culture, one so often finds the path to Saturday Night Live. In the case of Holiday music, one iconic example is Adam Sandler's little Hanukhah ditty. I think that, if you watch the interplay between Norm MacDonald and Adam Sandler during the initial roll-out of "The Hanukhah Song", you can see they knew that something special had occurred, even if they didn't realize the extent to which it was truly special. More on SNL in just a moment . . .

For years, my own personal favorite Christmas song has been from Mariah Carey. Back in '94, she released an album with at least two stellar efforts. One is "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". The other is "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which, having supplanted "Feliz Navidad" at the top of my list, continues to be my all-time favorite.**

Now we come back to the ubiquitous SNL and the year 2000. The first time I heard/saw Sanz-Fallon-Kattan-Morgan do the grammatically challenged "I Wish It Was Christmas Today", I was blown away.*** I was quite gratified over the years to see it coming back in incarnation after incarnation. I really think we've got a keeper here - particularly with Jimmy Fallon's ascension to the Tonight Show perch, where he'll presumably be for decades. I did a triple-take when just the other day I heard the version by The Strokes' Julian Casablancas for the first time (where have I been since 2009?), playing over an Acura commercial. A terrific chronicle of the history of this unlikely entry on the roster of tier-one Christmas songs, with a whole bunch of great links, is on the Slate website. Check it out. See also the utterly spectacular 2009 rendition of the song performed on Late Night (I won't spoil it for you with any details).

Happy Holidays!
* As a general matter (and as I've previously indicated ), it often fascinates me when something enters the Collective's consciousness as a long-term (and maybe even very long-term) keeper. I wonder how often those who create new pop-culture fixtures realize in real time that they've captured lightening in a bottle? I once heard the Pink Floyd guys saying that they really did know right away that they'd done something special after wrapping DSotM. Another angle on this is reflected by the Black Eyed Peas, who I think actually tried with forethought to come up with a forever-type piece when they did "I Gotta Feeling" - it must be something to aim that high intentionally and ultimately succeed.

** Could there have possibly been a better song for use in one of my favorite movies, "Love Actually"?

*** I remember being in similar awe when I first saw Andy Kaufman's "Mighty Mouse" thing.

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