Making up my Christmas playlist on my iPod this year, the final tally reached an impressive 160 songs. That’s a jingly jam session that includes Rat Pack versions of classics, some choral tunes, the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and some pop standards like The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping“. But, even with over seven hours of holiday listening, one can grow weary of hearing the same tracks over and over. (I listen to my iPod A-LOT). So, I was on the hunt for a few new and worthy Christmas releases to add to the collection when I stumbled quite accidentally upon today’s great thing:
156. The Hives and Cyndi Lauper A Christmas Duel
Cyndi Lauper has a Christmas album all to herself that I enjoy thoroughly.
But this new(ish) addition to her repertoire is a terrific surprise. Cyndi is such an old favorite of mine that it truly pleases me when more modern acts also recognize her brilliance. So, I thought it was pretty cool that Swedish rock band The Hives sought her out. They’re a respectable band and you may know their killer track “I Hate To Say I Told You So”. Of the team-up a Hive says:
“We came up with the song and we figured it was a duet, and we’d always hoped to do a duet with Cyndi Lauper.” Good enough for me! I’m pretty sure the process also included shopping at Ikea, playing some Abba, and chasing it all down with some meatballs and Akvavit..and other stereotypical things that I know about Sweden… and finally there you have it, a modern Christmas classic was born.
The charm of this song is that it’s about a miserable married couple having a ‘one-up’ sort of argument. A song done years earlier in a similar vein is “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues (and featuring Kirsty MacColl). Now, to most here in the UK this will sound like sacrilege, but I do not like “Fairytale of New York”. All the cool kids over here rank it seriously hight. I get that it’s supposed to be bleakly humorous, but for my tastes it’s too bleak. Even if the lyrics are funny, the music never picks up. It’s like an awful dirge with no spark of cheer in it. And I just can’t abide that at Christmas. That’s why I find this track a bit of an improvement. It’s got the black comedy in it…but it also has a bit of jingle jangle. In fact, if you listen closely, it sounds absolutely inspired by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.
Listen now and judge for yourself. There’s no official video…so this is just the track over some stills. I hope you dig it.
The track reached number 4 on the Swedish charts. Not too shabby. It’d be nice to see it get more play worldwide though. For further reading, here’s a link to a Rolling Stone notice of the track: A Christmas Duel
Now, for an extra holiday treat, here’s a second great thing for you today. Let’s call it the B-Side to today’s great song. The Killers’ “Don’t Kill Me Santa Claus” is a fabulous blend of 60’s style dramatic narration, coupled with mod rock beats, and Brandon Flower’s patented rock-boy keening. Released in 2007, it was an AIDS charity single. It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it.