Saturday, December 7, 2013

Holiday Favourites


I finally feel safe celebrating the holiday season in public! I've been listening to Christmas music since October, but people have such strong opinions about waiting until after Thanksgiving that I've held onto this post for a few weeks before posting. Here are some of my favourite holiday movies, albums, and songs.

Movies

Nativity! - I finally watched this movie this past summer (6 months early, sorry) and fell in love with everything about it. Martin Freeman plays a schoolteacher whose girlfriend broke up with him at Christmas several years prior to when the movie is set and consequently he hates everything about the holiday. Added to his frustration is his new assistant teacher, Mr. Poppy, who never does anything he tells him, and a rival schoolteacher who is determined to again "win" the school nativity play. The movie is a little cheesy, but it's a perfect feel-good Christmas movie with an adorable cast.

Santa Clause 2 - This has been a holiday movie staple in my house ever since the movie released. I have watched it close to 30 times and I still continue to love it. The movie picks up about 10 or so years after the first one, Santa Clause, with Santa discovering that he must get married or he can't be Santa anymore. The story is a race against the clock as "the desantafication process has begun!"

Love Actually - This is the only "adult" movie on this list as most adult Christmas films tend to be rom-coms, which I despise. Love Actually in the one exception, primarily because it isn't the story of one couple's relationship; it shows little bits and pieces of multiple people's stories, making it less mushy and more interesting. I also love the cast list, which was its original biggest draw for me.

Eloise At Christmastime - My family has a tradition of watching this every Christmas Eve Eve. It's possibly the cutest holiday movie ever as the main character is an adorable 6 year old named Eloise who lives at the Plaza Hotel and entertains herself by creating mischief throughout the hotel.

Albums

Joy, Joy by David Phelps - This was the first Christmas album I ever fell in love with; my parents have played this in their cars every holiday season since I was in 2nd grade. Phelps has a truly incredible voice that pairs perfectly with the traditional favourites he sings. My personal favourites are "Joy, Joy" and "Oh Holy Night."

Wrapped In Red by Kelly Clarkson - I've already posted a bit about this one in my October Favourites (found here), so I won't describe it again, but in the month I've had it I've listened to it countless times and still love it. My favourites are "Run Run Rudolph" and her cover of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.

Christmas by Michael Bublé - A friend lent this to me the year it released and it's been a constant favourite the past few years. His style is a bit like Harry Connick Jr.'s in that it has a contemporary sound with some sporadic "crazy festive" brass sections (as I like to call them). I think everyone can agree that "Santa Buddy" is the strangest track on the album, but his cover of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is quite good, as are all his other versions of Christmas classics.

A Christmas Celebration by Celtic Woman - If this were just a normal women's group's Christmas album, I would have overlooked it. The group's violin player's contribution and the traditional arrangements are what set this group apart from others. Instead of changing the songs into being more pop-friendly, they've left them to their classic sound and gave the violin a more prominent role. The highlight of the album is "Carol of the Bells," my favourite arrangement of this song, because it's set up like a chorus piece and keeps the original intensity with an added violin role.

Songs

"All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey - Perhaps the most well-known modern classic Christmas songs, this is the perfect song for getting in the holiday mood. Every time I hear it I want to belt out along to it.

"Oh Holy Night" by Bastille - Of course I had to add Bastille! I'm not a fan of their use of Home Alone clips at the beginning and end because I think it detracts from the song as a whole, but I love the song itself. The part where they all come in and sing together sounds incredible and I hope they do more Christmas songs in the future.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Harry Connick Jr. - This is yet another song my dad always plays in the car during the season. I love the "crazy festive brass" quality and its overall holiday-spirited sound.

"Carol of the Bells" by Emmy Rossum - Although "Carol of the Bells" is one of my favourite Christmas songs, I prefer it arranged a particular way so there are only a few versions that I actually like. This is one of my current favourites as it's ominous and gorgeous at the same time.


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