Song of the Day: Swinging on a Star, music by Jimmy Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke, won the 1944 Oscar for Best Song, from the film "Going My Way." The film starred Academy Award winner Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley; he would repeat that role in the 1945 sequel, another seasonal favorite, "The Bells of St. Mary's, which co-starred Ingrid Bergman. Crosby also received a Best Actor nomination for the sequel. Not strictly a holiday song, it's still one that I associate with the holidays, having seen one or two seasonal plays that have used this song in reference to a certain star of Biblical proportions. Listen to audio clips of renditions by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis, and bassist Ray Brown.
Song of the Day: Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep), music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, was an Oscar-nominated song from the 1954 film "White Christmas." Cliche though it may be, this is something I do every day of my life ... count my blessings. Listen to an audio clip from the classic Rosemary Clooney rendition.
Song of the Day: I Got You (I Feel Good), words and music by James Brown, reworks a Brown song entitled "I Found You" (audio clip at that link), recorded by Yvonne Fair. This track is my personal Brown favorite; it was a mega-hit and a signature tune for the "Godfather of Soul," who passed away yesterday, on Christmas Day 2006. Brown was one of the most important artists of the past forty years, influencing everything from R&B to hip hop, and everyone from the Rolling Stones and Public Enemy to Prince and Michael Jackson (and check out a rare You Tube clip featuring Brown, Jackson, and Prince). Listen to an audio clip of this classic track here.
Song of the Day: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, words and music by Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots, is a famous Christmas standard. It has been recorded by popular artists such as Bruce Springsteen, the Crystals, and the Jackson Five, and jazz artists such as Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, and Diana Krall. And it's Christmas Eve... so you better be good, for goodness sake! Track Santa's global adventures here!
Song of the Day: We Wish You a Merry Christmas is a simple, but joyous traditional song of the season (audio clips at those links). And enjoy another audio clip of a rousing rendition by Kiri Te Kenawa with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
Song of the Day: Little Drummer Boy features the words and music of Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati, and Harry Simeone. It is a staple of the Christmas season and can also be heard in a Rankin-Bass animated special. Listen to an audio clip from the most famous rendition by the Harry Simeone Chorale and to a duet featuring Bing Crosby and David Bowie (the duet clip never gets to the vocals, but there is also a clip of a Crosby solo version at that link).
Song of the Day: Ice, which features the lovely sounds of keyboardist Tamlyn, from the Sean Brennan-spearheaded group, London After Midnight, might seem like an "odd" choice for a holiday song list. How appropriate, then, that it is the final track of "Oddities," an album that begins with a track entitled "The Christmas Song" (audio clip here). And I really love it; listen to an audio clip of the song, officially Track 72 on the album (the very end of the song features a tip of the hat to "Jingle Bells"). And Happy Winter Solstice, which, coincidentally, arrives at 7:22 pm, Eastern Standard Time!
Song of the Day: Silver Bells, words and music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, was first heard in the 1951 film, "The Lemon Drop Kid," where it was performed by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell. Listen to audio clips of renditions by Perry Como, Andy Williams, Stevie Wonder, and the rich, multi-part harmonies of Take 6.
So when I found out about the passing of Joseph Barbera, I paused for a moment to recall all the joy his wonderful animation brought me.
Cross-posted to L&P.
Song of the Day: O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum) is a traditional Christmas carol of German origin. There are so many versions of this song and so many recorded renditions that it is almost impossible to pick a favorite. Listen to audio clips of Nat King Cole, Nancy Wilson, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.
Justin Timberlake was featured on "Saturday Night Live" this past weekend, as both the host and the musical guest. I loved him when he first appeared on the show back in 2003, and he was just as terrific this time around.
One hilarious "digital short" was aired, with Justin and Andy Samberg. For those who enjoyed the "Lazy Sunday" clip last December, the new one, "Dick in a Box," will provide a few laughs. Check it out on YouTube.
Update: Jon posts the uncensored, unedited version, which also happens to feature audio and video that is more, uh, NSYNC. Watch it here.
Song of the Day: You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch features the lyrics of Theodore Geisel (aka "Dr. Seuss") and the music of Albert Hague. On this date, forty years ago, the Ben Washam and Chuck Jones-directedanimated version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" made its debut on CBS-TV. The cartoon (one of my favorites of all time) showcased the voice of the great Boris Karloff, and this song was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft. The song is also featured in the 2000 motion picture (audio clip at that link) and the 2006 Broadway production (audio clip at that link) of the classic Dr. Seuss story. Listen to an audio clip of the original version here.
Song of the Day: The Twelve Days of Christmas is one of those traditional songs of the season that has been recorded countless times (and the cost of all its enumerated items has gone up considerably since the eighteenth century). So join me, starting today, for my annual holiday music tribute; I won't settle for 12 days, however. We've got 16 songs coming your way over the next 2+ weeks. Let's begin with some holiday cheer from Perry Como, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, and Joan Sutherland and the Ambrosian Singers.
Song of the Day: Deja Vu (lyrics and video clip at that link) features the words and music of Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins and Beyonce, a star in the new film version of "Dreamgirls," and the singer of this track, which appears on her album, "B'day." I like the original mix, but I love the Freemasons dance remix (audio clips at those links). Both versions feature a guest rap from Jay-Z.
Song of the Day: And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going, lyrics by Tom Eyen, music by Henry Krieger, is one of the dramatic highlights of the Broadway musical, "Dreamgirls," inspired by the story of the Motown super group, The Supremes. I never saw the original Michael Bennett production, but I was enthralled with the performance of this track, sung with Tony-winning gusto, by Jennifer Holliday. The movie version, with an all-star cast, opens for an exclusive engagement at the Ziegfeld Theater in Manhattan, before its nationwide debut on Christmas day. In the film musical, another "J.H." takes on this song and the role of "Effie." "American Idol" runner-up, Jennifer Hudson. Listen to audio clips of the powerhouse Jennifer Holliday version (and check out her televised performance at the 1982 Tony Awards, courtesy of You Tube) and the new Jennifer Hudson version as well (clips at those links).
Song of the Day: My Baby Just Cares for Me, music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Gus Kahn, is from the Broadway musical "Whoopee." This little jazzy nugget has been recorded by Tony Bennett and guitarist Chuck Wayne, Nina Simone, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, George Michael, and today's birthday boy, Frank Sinatra, who was born on this date in 1915 (audio clips at those links).
Song of the Day: Alright, Okay, You Win, words and music by Sid Wyche and Mayme Watts, is one of those jovial blues-based swing tracks that has been recorded by some fine jazz and pop vocalists, including Joe Williams with Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Bette Midler, on a tribute album to Lee (audio clips at those links).
Song of the Day: Shine features the words and music of James ("Jimmy Jam") Harris III and Terry Lewis, with a sample taken from the Chic hit, "My Forbidden Lover," by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. The song was recorded by Luther Vandross some years ago, but was not released until recently as part of "The Ultimate Luther Vandross: Special Collector's Edition" (audio clips at that link). While the original mix is good, nothing beats the Freemasons Mix on the Bonus Disc, which weds the Velvet Vandross Voice to a sexy dance beat (audio clip here). This production is Classic Luther. Hearing him in this setting reminds me that he wasn't just a balladeer; his voice jazzed up some of the greatest R&B dance tracks of the past quarter century. Shine on, Luther!