A list of familiar and not-so-familiar holiday tunes to enjoy

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2008

So you chug-a-lugged some spiked egg nog, passed out and had nightmares of hearing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" for the gajillionth time. Then ... you got lost in a megamall, only to be mauled by a gaudy Mannheim Steamroller.

Afraid this could happen to you? Well, take heart - and don't leave your holiday music in the hands of deejays, in-laws and other evil elves who serve you the sonic equivalent of brick-hard fruitcake.

Here is a list of suggested music.

'Monsters' Holiday, Bobby 'Boris' Pickett

This 1962 sequel to "Monster Mash" is a bit more sublime but even more fun.

'Do You Hear What I Hear?' Keola Beamer

Simply a gorgeous rendering of the Christmas carol by a Hawaiian slack key guitar master, from the highly recommended 1996 album "Ki Ho'alu Christmas" (Dancing Cat).

'Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,' James Brown

Says more than 1,000 holiday charity appeals combined, and with a much funkier backbeat.

'Happy Xmas (War Is Over),' John Lennon

True, this song nearly got ruined when the "Make It Jamaica" ad campaign blatantly stole Lennon's melody. Still, "Happy Xmas" endures.

'Father Christmas,' The Kinks

No Christmas ditty rocks as hard.

'Run Rudolph Run,' Chuck Berry

Listen to that guitar and Berry's semi-yodeled vocal.

'Holly Jolly Christmas,' Burl Ives

"Holly Jolly" suggests roly-poly images of Ives as the avuncular snowman on those Rankin-Bass Christmas specials.

'You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,' Thurl Ravenscroft

Come on: Garlic and arsenic sauce ... in a Christmas song? What's not to love?

'Baby, It's Cold Outside,' Dean Martin

You can see lounge lizard Deano puttin' the moves on the female vocalist who's just trying to get home before she's snowed in.

'Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,' Bing Crosby and David Bowie

In the most surreal pairing since pickles and ice cream, show-biz stalwart Crosby teamed with glitter god Ziggy Stardust to conjure a little Christmas magic.

'You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song),' Rich Mullins

No sticky-sweet sentiment or cutesy artifice here: It's heartfelt.

'Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight),' The Ramones

Punk godfather Joey Ramone's appeal for a little break from the family dysfunction gives a whole new spin to the phrase "peace on Earth."

'Christmastime Is Here Again,' The Beatles

A sly rewrite of the "Sgt. Pepper" cut "Lovely Rita."

'The Christmas Song,' Nat King Cole

Cole's got a voice warmer than a mug of mulled cider in a sub-zero snowstorm.

'My Favorite Things,' Tony Bennett

Not originally a holiday song, but in the hands of Bennett it somehow gives you the shivers and makes you feel warm inside.

'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,' Frank Sinatra

This 1964 Sinatra track dishes a cornucopia of delights: tubular bells, timpani rolls, a loft full of choir singers, and a stirring lead vocal sealed with the kiss of a harp.

'Boas Festas,' Two for Brazil

Chicago's Paulinho Garcia ranks as the best Brazilian guitarist in the Midwest.

'Sleigh Ride,' Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

A minute-long, somber vocal prelude melts into hip, horn-driven instrumental pop that'll throw you back to the Swingin' '60s.

'Riu Riu Chiu,' Sixpence None the Richer

What's to love: Leigh Nash established her appeal with the irresistible hit "Kiss Me." Here, she sings in Spanish and you'd swear she's spent every Christmas of her life in a sandstone Mexican cathedral.

'Do They Know It's Christmas?' Band Aid

A quarter-century later, African famine has not vanished. Then again, neither has the hope.



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