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Tag: Christmas Music (1-10 of 12)

Chris Farren wishes you a slacker-pop Christmas with 'Like a Gift From God or Whatever' -- exclusive

Chris Farren, front man for Fake Problems and Antarctigo Vespucci, likes to refer to himself as a “punk celebrity,” but on the title track from his new collection of Christmas originals, Like a Gift from God or Whatever, he channels more of a chill-bro slacker pop vibe, with an assist from Brooklyn singer-songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs. For the endearingly goofy video, director Kevin Slack uses well-out-of-date VHS technology whose grainy, glitchy texture should bring back memories of childhood Christmases for anyone who grew up in the pre-digital age.

A portion of the profits from the album’s sales will go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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Happy Fangs wish you a punk-rock Christmas with an exclusive playlist

Behind the grunged-up, Bikini-Kill-via-classic-rock racket of their debut LP Capricorn (due out Jan. 27), the three members of San Francisco’s Happy Fangs have a surprising amount of holiday spirit. Recently they released two songs about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween, which they’ve handily included in a playlist that highlights the strange relationship between punks and the pretty much least punk holiday of the year.

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Your unexpectedly good Christmas carol of the day is Shelby Earl's 'We Three Kings'

Sometime in the past few years, people have figured out how dreary and boring most Christmas music is, judging by the surprising number of tolerable–or even enjoyable–holiday recordings that have come out this season. (The timing could have been related to the recent entry of “All I Want for Christmas is You” into the yuletide canon.)

Amazon’s recently helped raise the bar a notch with a compilation of Christmas songs recorded by hipster-friendly acts like Escort, Beth Orton, and the Flaming Lips with Yoko Ono, as well as a handful of new compositions, including one by Liz PhairAll is Bright is exclusive to Amazon Prime members using the Amazon Music platform, but the company’s let a few tracks out into the wild, including Seattle troubadour Shelby Earl doing a rootsy and unexpectedly dark rendition of “We Three Kings” that makes the 150-year-old carol pop to life.

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Explore the world of oddball Christmas music with a new documentary (and an exclusive mix)

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If the only way you hear Christmas music is by what’s played in department stores and those seasonal radio stations that spend the rest of  the year broadcasting soft rock you’d be forgiven for thinking your only options are stiffly archaic orchestral arrangements, Crosby-esque crooning, and the occasional over-produced pop song. But as anyone who’s spent any serious amount of time crate-digging through dusty vinyl can attest, there’s a veritable sea of Christmas recordings out there that are way too out there to serve as background music at Macy’s.

Eccentric Christmas music and the people (often eccentric themselves) who are obsessed with it are the subjects of a new documentary, Jingle Bell Rocks!, out now on DVD and VOD. The film includes interviews with artists like Run-D.M.C. and the Flaming Lips who’ve recorded non-traditional holiday songs, but the real stars are the collectors whose intense interest in the music extends year round. John Soss is one such fanatic, and he’s compiled a mix of obscure Christmas tunes for EW that includes contributions by a bewildering range of performers, from James Brown to Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm from The Flintstones.

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Jimmy Kimmel and Brandon Flowers reveal the secrets behind the Killers' 'Joel the Lump of Coal'

Since 2006, the Killers have celebrated the Yuletide season with original Christmas songs, some of which are among the finest tunes in the band’s catalog. (“A Great Big Sled” is a particular standout.) Not only do they help rock fans get into the spirit of the season, but all of the proceeds from single sales go to benefit (RED).

This year is no different, though they called in some reinforcements with their 2014 holiday tune “Joel the Lump of Coal.” The song was co-written by Jimmy Kimmel, who premiered the video last week on his late night show Jimmy Kimmel Live! The song is a sweet, funny, and surprisingly melancholy new take on a Christmas song, and both Kimmel and Killers frontman Brandon Flowers called EW to talk about their collaboration, which you can download on iTunes right now.

EW: Brandon, how did the Killers first get involved in making Christmas songs? 
BRANDON FLOWERS: This is the ninth year we’ve done a Christmas song. Bono and Bobby Shriver have this (RED) campaign, and they started about that time, nine or 10 years ago. They asked me if I wanted to do a Gap ad, and at the time I was feeling a little too cool to do a Gap ad. So I declined sort of reluctantly, because when Bono asks you to do something, you don’t want to say no. But I had this other idea: AIDS Day is Dec. 1, and it’s Christmas time, so what if we gave you a Christmas song? And then it just became a tradition. READ FULL STORY

Hear 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' in the style of Usher, Blink-182, and more

If Blink-182 or Bruce Springsteen were considering covering “All I Want For Christmas Is You” this holiday season, they can put that project on the back burner: The man behind Ten Second Songs did it for them.

Anthony Vincent covered the Mariah Carey Christmas classic in 20 10-second-long segments all in different styles, ranging from the squeaky Alvin and the Chipmunks to the sultry Usher. READ FULL STORY

Ariana Grande releases upbeat Christmas track 'Santa Tell Me'

Ariana Grande completed an important step in reaching pop diva status Monday when she released an instantly memorable Christmas single, “Santa Tell Me.”

This isn’t Grande’s first foray into Christmas songs: Last year, she released a holiday EP titled Christmas Kisses that featured two original songs, “Snow in California,” a straight-from-the-’90s ballad, and “Love Is Everything,” an optimistic song heavy on the belting. But while those two songs are more the type you’d listen to while decorating the tree, “Santa Tell Me” is a poppy track perfect for playing during holiday festivities—or for blasting in your car. READ FULL STORY

'Britney Jean' nets Britney Spears her worst opening week ever; Garth Brooks and Duck Dynasty carry on

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When her Las Vegas residency begins at the end of the month, Britney Spears should probably stay away from the roulette wheel, because numbers are not her friend at the moment.

Spears’ new album Britney Jean arrived this week, moving only 107,000 copies for a fourth-place finish on the Billboard 200. It’s the weakest opening week in Spears’ career, both by hard sales numbers and chart position (previously, her slowest sales week was the opening frame of her debut …Baby One More Time, which tallied 121,000 copies).

The numbers for Britney Jean are also a giant drop-off from the opening week of her previous album, 2011’s Femme Fatale, which sold 276,000 copies in its first week. It’ll be interesting to track Britney Jean moving into 2014, as she may get a bump from the just-released video for the single “Perfume” and another once her Vegas show gets rolling.

Britney had to dive out of the way of Garth Brooks, whose Blame It On My Roots: Five Decades of Influences took the number one spot on the chart this week. In its second full week of release, the WalMart-exclusive box set (containing six CDs, two DVDs, and retailing for around 25 bucks) sold 146,000 copies. Brooks is now tied for fourth place all-time for number one albums with nine (same as Barbra Streisand and the Rolling Stones). He trails the Beatles (19), Jay Z (13), Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Presley (both with 10). Expect Blame It On My Roots to stay strong during the holiday season. READ FULL STORY

Rod Stewart, John Travolta, Cee Lo Green, and the best (and best-worst) of the season's new Christmas music

For some of you, the focus on Christmas shifted roughly 20 minutes after swallowing the last bite of Thanksgiving pie and you set out to find the best spot for your Black Friday tent.

One of the great joys (or, depending on who you are, nightmares) of the holiday commerce season is the never-ending stream of Christmas music filling in all the empty airspace in your local shopping malls and department stores. But what if you’re shopping online, and somehow avoiding every other vestige of public-space holiday-music inundation?

To help you, here’s a rundown of some of the new stuff added to the yearly snowpile of Yuletide releases (and at the end of this post, a Spotify playlist to let you try out the wares like so many Costco samples.)

Rod Stewart, Merry Christmas, Baby
The undisputed champ of this season’s holiday music bonanza is Stewart, whose first holiday album is currently doing big business (it narrowly missed preventing Alicia Keys from being the top album in the country this week). His approach is very much “Over-Eggnogged Uncle Croons Hugs ‘Round the Tree,” but it’s still Rod-ily charming, and his original composition “Red Suited Super Man” will be an alternate-universe hit next Yuletide season.

Cee Lo Green, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment
The music world was half-expecting a new album from Green’s old hip-hop group Goodie Mob this holiday season, but instead we got The Voice favorite’s blast of red-velvet funk (and that’s red velvet like Santa’s suit, not the sexy cake kind). Its Motown bounce recalls all the great Stevie Wonder Christmas tracks of yesteryear, and the inclusion of the Muppets (on “All I Need Is Love”) is never not awesome. READ FULL STORY

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John exceed your wildest expectations with Christmas music video

Might-Like-It

What happened to Danny and Sandy after they flew Greased Lightning off into the sky? Evidently, they landed, grew middle-aged together, bought a plane — wait, what? They already had a flying car — and separated before the holidays just so that they could make a music video about coming back together. The clip also features a family reunion that has nothing to do with Danny or Sandy because, sure, why not.

What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about this newly-released music video for the only original tune on Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta’s fantastically cheesy Christmas album. (EW’s Nakisha Williams calls it “Grease goes to Shady Pines.”)

The song, “I Think You Might Like It,” is supposed to be the “sequel” to “You’re The One That I Want.” In the sense that it’s an up-tempo duet between Travolta and Newton-John, it succeeds. In every other way… well, maybe you should just watch for yourself:

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