Calm, collected holiday shopper, what's on your iPod? (Part IV)
(Rock out to parts one, two, and three.)
Mannheim Steamroller, "Carol of the Bells"
When Mannheim Steamroller attack a Christmas standard, they don't fuck around. They beat it silly, double-dose it with steroids, give it a jarhead haircut, and throw it under a tank. And then when they present it to you in fully animated orchestral swing, it's almost as if you're hearing the thing for the first time ever - or losing your virginity all over again. Think you've really heard "Carol of the Bells"? You totally haven't.
The Superions are a synth-drenched side project of B-52s' toaster Fred Schneider that allows America's favorite Rock Lobster - not "Cock Mobster," mind, that's MC Paul Barman - to pursue his camp, surrealist muse on a regular basis. "Santa's Disco" isn't as wild, crazy, and earworm-ish as other Superions cuts, and actually screams "gay James Bond knock-off" more than "mad-cap New Wave sleigh ride," but the myopic relentlessness of its many-spendored groove lends itself nicely to singleminded smash'n'grab shopping escapades, especially if you're buying tons of synthesizers and samplers and microphones. And if this bit of Yuletide tomfoolery ain't up your alley, they've got a ton of other dumb-fun holiday songs streaming on their MySpace page. (Also, it looks like they've probably got a Snuggie endorsement deal. Which reminds me: you're getting me a Snuggie for Christmas, right?)
The Killers, "Boots"
So are you ready for a Killers Christmas single? I wasn't, either, and I'm not even totally convinced that I really just listened to one, let along one where Brandon Flowers seems to be abandoning all the symbolistic distractions that usually clutter his lyrical prose for actual personal memories and experiences and feelings. I also like that this one isn't manic or strained, just sort of bopping along in sub-waltz time with sweet vocal harmonizing effects and sweeping strings. Just the tune for collapsing into one of those coin-operated massaging chairs near the food court.
The Holy Grail of "White Christmas" iterations. The granddaddy of the American caroling tradition. Whether you're curled up on the couch with a cup of cocoa and the LP sleeve or driving home drunk from an office party, playing FM dial roulette or singing along at a karaoke bar, here's never any doubt about who's singing this version - that rich, louche, generous baritone that demonstrated depth without verging into showiness or flash. Want a calm, kindly holiday shopping horde? Then broadcast this touchstone on mall PAs on a loop until the day after New Year's.