One thing that changes when you start dancing is how you listen to music. I know I’m generalizing here but I’ve talked to enough other ballroom folk that I think this is pretty much universal. Before dance, you might have played some air guitar or burst into song. After dance, it is all about finding the beat and the first thing that goes through your head is “what could I dance to that?”
And Christmas music is no exception. We had our Holiday Choir perform in our building today. I go every year because I like Christmas music. Plus, I have three people on my team who sing in the choir so I like to go support them. But they broke into a bit of “You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch” and I so wanted to get up and do a Fox Trot. I held it in though.
My wife and I are kind of divided on Christmas music. She likes piano and softer stuff probably because she uses music to relax. Me, I’m all about the instrumentals and the more you put in there, the better I like it. I guess I like music that makes me feel alive. Oh, I can get into the softer stuff but I have to be in the right mood.
Sirius just kicked off a Mannheim Steamroller channel and that is my primary choice of their many Christmas themed stations. I’ve got most of the Mannheim stuff on CD’s and I just love their take on the songs. A couple of years ago, I heard Carol of the Bells by August Burns Red which is a bit out there with guitars and stuff but I told you I like the offbeat stuff so I created a Pandora channel to play that type of music.
I’ve mentioned it before (although that post may have gone the way of most of this blog) that my favorite Christmas Tune is Christmas Eve / Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I like that for a lot of reasons but mainly because the Carol of the Bells part sounds like a killer Viennese Waltz. I’ve watched a few You Tube videos of people doing Viennese Waltz to that song and they look like fun.
Don’t know why it is that certain songs just seem like they would be more fun to dance to. At the end of the day, it is all about the beat and not the shiny stuff going on around it but maybe it is just when the song lights you up that it just makes dancing to it that much better.
I also like Celtic versions of Christmas songs. And full orchestra versions of certain songs are nice as well. I’ve got some Big Band CD’s as well and they aren’t bad although they tend to make the Christmas stuff sound like other big Band swing.
Sirius also has a channel that features mostly vocals from the 40’s to the 60’s. The classic is Nat King Cole doing “The Christmas Song” which you can’t help but like. I mean there isn’t much production to these because the point is to just highlight the singer. This is not music I listened to growing up and a lot of it isn’t in my wheelhouse but it does make me respect the talent that was there. I can hear why Frank Sinatra was as popular as he was.
But a lot of that channel has the flavor of old 60’s Christmas variety shows. OK, I may be mis-remembering this but it seems like there were a lot of these shows back in the day. Like the Andy Williams Christmas Show. I don’t remember really watching these shows but I think it was just a random series of different people showing up to sing Christmas carols. Weird but it gives me kind of a nice little vibe – like I can be nostalgic for a time I don’t really remember. Maybe it was just because things were simpler and that type of show passed for good entertainment back then.
I mention Andy Williams because he does that horrible song “Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. Sorry if that’s one of your faves but it doesn’t do anything for me. The whole line about “scary ghost stories”. I never got that because it wasn’t a thing we did but I’ve recently googled it and I guess it used to be something but I’m pretty sure it had died out before that song was written. Maybe it is also his voice. I mean he’s not bad but he’s really just kind of “meh”.
And it seems like every artist has done a Christmas album or some Christmas songs. And there’s a lot of good and bad in there. Just three random favorites of mine:
1. Please come home for Christmas by the Eagles – the opening piano notes just set a perfect sad tone and Don Henley’s voice just adds to the overall feel. OK, you wonder why I’d pick a sad song for a happy holiday like Christmas but that’s just how I roll.
2. All I want for Christmas by Mariah Carey – OK, give me the grief, this is a serious guilty pleasure. I’m going to admit that before I started dancing, I really didn’t care for this song despite the fact that it is so catchy. But, I love the slow opening and then when it breaks into a nice swing. I can almost picture a routine with some swaying or other slow stuff and then a quick transition into a swing when the beat changes.
3. Last Christmas by Wham – Another serious guilty pleasure and it is cheesy and all that but it is seriously catchy and I can’t help but sing along in places.
There are way too many bad ones to choose from. Frankly, I can’t stand Wonderful Christmas time by Paul McCarthy and I don’t like Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Yeah, I probably lost all my music cred by picking Wham over two legends but so be it. While I’m dissing legends, let me also say that I can’t stand Step into Christmas by Elton John.
While I’m rambling, I might as well mention that there is genre of stuff that gets played as if it were Christmas music but they are really just winter/cold/snow themed. That includes songs like “Baby its Cold Outside”, “Let it Snow”, “I’ve got my love to keep my warm” and “Its a Marshmallow World”. I’ve got my love to keep me warm is a decent Fox Trot but it really isn’t a Christmas themed song. But, for some reason, these get played on that Sirius channel. I never thought about it much but I listen to the lyrics and these are imposters – not true Christmas songs.
OK, that’s all I got for now. Got two dance lessons tonight but we won’t be dancing to any Christmas Music 😦