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  • Ten Songs You Need On Your Christmas Playlist (Which Beat Carols)


    Skinny Legend

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    When it comes to pop music, most of us have set ideas of what we want to hear. Pop music in 2017 is constantly changing, and that necessitates a song which will either hit right in the middle of whatever trend is whirlwinding through the genre at any given moment, or one that will set the zeitgeist for what we can expect for the next few months in terms of production. Pop music is designed to give the illusion of edginess and freshness, even while it not-so-secretly borrows all of it's creativity from genres long-established.

    When it comes to Christmas songs, however, the rules are different. The festive season is really the one time of year when people are happy to embrace "cheese" in all it's glory - and we ain't talking about gouda. Our favourite Christmas songs are rife with references to tradition, family, an incredibly pure definition of love and overused holiday symbolism. The production, too, generally plays much safer, often choosing to throw back to retro Motown sounds, with brass sections, choirs and sleigh bells all coming out to play. Pop may play the role of the leather jacket in music's wardrobe all year round, evoking a stylish and rebellious spirit; but Christmas is that one cosy sweater you've had for years that always brings back memories of sitting by the fire and drinking hot cocoa.

    In this list, we'll be compiling the ten best "hot cocoa" Christmas songs which have yet to slide into the monotony of carol status. Whether you're sitting alone watching Love, Actually on Christmas day or trying to get your boss tipsy at the work Christmas party, just one listen of these songs is bound to get you in the festive spirit and ready for the big day. Check out our choices below!

    10. Sia - Candy Cane Lane

    Sia may not be the immediate choice for a Christmas album, but the more you think about it the more well-suited she seems to spreading holiday goodness. Sia in 2017 seems to churn out pop hits like butter, often to the expense of meaningful lyrics or unique production; but that kind of breezy, generic pop tune is exactly what's needed at Christmastime, where people are loathe to think about anything more serious than what kind of wreath they should get. 'Candy Cane Lane' is the most vapid, silly and childish song on the whole album - but we can't even be mad when the chorus is this catchy and fun.

    9. Gwen Stefani - Under The Christmas Lights

    Thanks to some pretty poor promotion (we still don't have a music video for the lead single which was released in September), and a bad choice of single in the form of the Blake Shelton assisted 'You Make It Feel Like Christmas', Gwen Stefani's Christmas album has pretty much flown under the radar this year. And while I can't say I'm sad about that fact (the album is overall pretty meh), it does mean that a lot of people are missing out on 'Under The Christmas Lights', which is, as the kids would say, "a bop". Evoking the doo-wop tones of The Ronettes, Stefani puts in her purest performance in years as she sings an ode to holiday love. You can almost forget for a minute that she's singing about Shelton.

    8. Leona Lewis - One More Sleep

    Leona Lewis left her longtime record label Syco last year over differences of opinion in where her career should go; but if 'One More Sleep' is any indication, Lewis should definitely have stuck around if only to keep belting out Christmas hits. Not only was the track Lewis's most successful in years, charting in the UK every holiday season since it's been released; but it's also one of the most well constructed Christmas song ever, thanks to a smart little "12 Days of Christmas" countdown during the chorus. Lewis's voice is perfectly suited to this kind of song, and we can see why Simon Cowell wanted her to go Motown so badly.

    7. Eartha Kitt - Santa Baby

    'Santa Baby' has become a go to for any female singer releasing a Christmas album (Madonna, Kylie Minogue and The Pussycat Dolls have all contributed versions), but few can match the seductive elegance of Eartha Kitt's original version. Kitt's black sexuality was pretty radical back in it's day, but looking at it now her version is much more seductive than it is slutty, and her quiet, deliberate intonation makes the song a surprisingly easy listen considering that the whole thing is about Kitt asking her sugar daddy for a car. Moreover, it's just nice to have a Christmas song which isn't directed towards young kids and which isn't afraid to land someone on the naughty list.

    6. Mariah Carey - Oh Santa!

    It's definitely not the best known of Mariah's Christmas output, but 'Oh Santa!' is pretty much everything you'd ever want in a Christmas song. Released on her second album, the aptly titled Merry Christmas II You, the song was clearly meant to mimic the success of 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'; and even though it didn't quite get there, the chorus is just as catchy as that iconic track's ever was. If you haven't heard of it yet, think of the song as the festive version of 'Hey Ya' - it has the same call and response pre-chorus, as well as some doo-wopy background vocals and of course a gorgeous whistle tone straight from 80s Mariah. Just prepare to have it in your head a week later.

    5. Kylie Minogue - Every Day's Like Christmas

    Most of our favourite Christmas songs evoke the 60s "Wall of Sound" production made famous by Phil Spector in the 60s; but for a more modern, quasi-90s attempt, look no further than Kylie Minogue's 'Every Day's Like Christmas'. A cool electro-pop ballad, the song is more "ice queen" than "roaring fire", but it's tender enough to pull some heartstrings regardless. The song was originally worked on by the powerhouse of Coldplay's Chris Martin and Stargate; but for a more 80s take on the song, check out the Stock Aitken Waterman remix, which marks the first time Kylie has worked with the production trio in 25 years.

    4. Judy Garland - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

    Many have covered 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', the song first written for Judy Garland's character in the charming Meet Me In St. Louis. But none can quite match the emotional strains that Garland manages to pull off in her performance of the song, which comes at a vital point in the film as her character tries to sooth her sister after news that the whole family will be moving towns in the new year. In the world of boppy, poppy Christmas music which aims to improve people's moods over the festive period, 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' still stands out as a song for those of us who are lonely on the big day, whether because of heartbreak, death or distance - and no one knows more about that than Garland.

    3. Kelly Clarkson - Underneath The Tree

    I'm ready to call it: Kelly Clarkson's 'Underneath The Tree' is the most underrated Christmas song ever. The lead single from her Christmas album Wrapped in Red (which, incidentally, is probably the most underrated Christmas album ever), the song was at one point predicted to become just as legendary as a certain Mariah Carey classic; but it languished around the bottom of the charts before dropping out, never to be heard of again. It's a shame, because producer Jesse Shatkin nailed the Wall of Sound vibe, and Clarkson herself nailed those girl group vocals. Moreover, we have to give major kudos to any song which brings the much-missed saxophone solo back to pop music.

    2. Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

    We've brought up the Wall of Sound numerous times during this article, but at the risk of sounding repetitive, I'll bring it up just once more - this time in reference to Darlene Love's 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)', which is one of the original songs to utilise it and one of the best. 'Christmas' is ostensibly about a forelorn lover wishing for their partner to come home, but Love sings it with such passion that it's hard to feel anything but joyful listening to it. Love's version is still one of the best, but for a more modern take on the classic check out Mariah Carey's R&B-infused take or Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester's surprisingly good rock-tinged version.

    1. Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

    And here we are at the #1 spot! Is anyone really surprised? Given how overplayed and well-loved it is, Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' is basically a running joke at this point - but in our opinion, the hype around the song is well deserved. From the iconic opening strains of the music box to Mariah's shameless rhyme about reindeers "clicking" to that final, glorious whistle note, the song is chock full of legendary moments that are bound to bring a smile to even the Grinch's face. It's one of the few Christmas songs that can truly be listened to year round, as well as the only one which I never get sick of hearing in every department store ever. Let's just try and forget that the Justin Bieber remix ever existed, okay?

    What iconic Christmas songs are we missing from our list? Let us know in the comments down below!



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    There's a few other xmas bops i love like This Year and Christmas Time by Christina, the two EPs by Ariana Grande (even though Christmas & Chill is the ICONIC one), Christmas In the Sand and Mistletoe by Colbie Caillat, 4 Carats by Kelly Clarkson, and of course, the other two xmas originals by Leona Lewis: Your Hallelujah and Mr. Right :yaskween: 

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    On 12/18/2017 at 11:27 PM, Capsule said:

    you forgot

    and

     

    You're right about Britney, that track slays and is the perfect slice of early 2000s nostalgia! I feel like she's at the point in her career where she could have a Christmas album tbh, I hope we get one from her. ;) 

    That second track tho...

    giphy.gif

    On 12/21/2017 at 5:38 AM, victorxcx said:

    There's a few other xmas bops i love like This Year and Christmas Time by Christina, the two EPs by Ariana Grande (even though Christmas & Chill is the ICONIC one), Christmas In the Sand and Mistletoe by Colbie Caillat, 4 Carats by Kelly Clarkson, and of course, the other two xmas originals by Leona Lewis: Your Hallelujah and Mr. Right :yaskween: 

    I've never actually listened to any of the Ariana EP's in full, although 'Santa Tell Me' is a cute little bop. ;) But I refuse to support Evilana in her attempts to become the new Mariah and Queen of Christmas! :fishie: 

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      Mottola quickly took a large hand in Carey’s career, to the extent that it was said that the two were barely ever seen without each other. Later in life, Mottola would admit that he was “obsessive” when it came to Carey, but with the caveat that “that was the reason for her success”. Rumours of a romance began to fly about the 39 year old married man and his 18 year old muse, and it wasn’t long before they were proven to be true; Mottola proposed Carey in 1992, two years after her first album release and only shortly after the dissolution of his nineteen year marriage.

      Carey and Mottola at their $500 000 wedding ceremony in 2003
      Sadly, the marriage was not to be a happy one. Carey suffered from non-stop reports of favouritism, with more than one reporter suggesting that she had married Mottola only for his connections. Even more troubling was the fact that Carey, who had never been in a serious relationship prior to Mottola, was facing emotional abuse almost daily by her husband that left her "miserable, crying, and alone" and dreaming that someone would "kidnap" her. Carey would later recount that she was forced to remain "sequestered" from the outside world by Mottola, and that she had to "get permission to leave" the house. “He didn't even know why I always had my bag with me,” she would say years later. “But in my mind I thought, 'If something jumps off...I'm ready.'”
      Although Carey finally managed to escape her marriage to Mottola in 1997, that wouldn’t be the end of their relationship. After all, Mottola was head of Sony Records, and still wielded great power over her career. After some conflict over the direction Carey's career would take, Butterfly was released in late 1997, introducing the sexy image and breathy vocals that would become her signature in later years. But by the time Rainbow - the last album Carey would record for Sony - was released in 1999, her relationship with the label had completely deteriorated. The label wanted a big pop song to be released as the third single to heat up the lukewarm radio play for the album, but fittingly Mariah wanted 'Can't Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)' - a ballad about finding your inner strength based on her seperation from Mottola - to be released instead. She told her fans about the dispute and instructed they request the song on radio to force Sony into an official release, which they eventually did only half heartedly and with a limited promotional budget.
      Carey would soon sign a record-breaking $100 million contract with EMI, but money couldn’t buy her happiness. By 2001, Carey had begun work on a semi-autobiographical film called Glitter, and the film and it’s accompanying soundtrack had created a workload that she couldn’t sustain. After breaking up with her boyfriend of three years Luis Miguel, Carey began posting disturbing voice messages on her official website announcing that she would quit music. An erratic appearance on Total Request Live in which Carey handed out ice cream and performed a striptease for Carson Daly did nothing to help her public image. And meanwhile, Mottola back at Sony was doing everything he could to destroy her.
      Mottola had first discovered Jennifer Lopez in 1997, when she was fresh off the heels of her star turn in Selena and sending Spanish-language demos to various record labels. By this point, Mottola had recently separated from Carey, and it seemed his self-proclaimed “obsession” with her had been transferred to Lopez. Mottola sent J. Lo to the top of the charts with On the 6 and the international smash hit 'Waiting for Tonight', but he wasn’t done yet.
      Lopez’s sophomore album J. Lo was released in 2001, and it featured a song entitled ‘I’m Real’. The song sampled Yellow Magic Orchestra’s ‘Firecracker’ - a song which strangely hadn’t been requested for sample at all up until three weeks before it's recording, when Mariah Carey had requested to use it for her song ‘Loverboy’.
      This was a deliberate ploy by Tommy Mottola to sabotage Carey’s ‘Loverboy’ release, which was already scheduled to be the first single from the Glitter soundtrack and an instrumental part of the film itself. Unable to reshoot the scenes containing 'Loverboy', Mariah scrambled to find a new sample to base it on, settling on Cameo’s ‘Candy’. However, she would go on to release a single remix of 'Loverboy' with Da Brat which utilised ‘Firecracker’ in the melody, with Da Brat rapping, “Hate on me much as you want to/You can't do what the fuck I do/Bitches be emulating me daily.”
      This wasn’t the only way in which Mottola undercut Mariah’s Glitter campaign. Mariah had recorded a track called ‘If We’ for the project with Ja Rule, which was his first foray into R&B. Irv Gotti would later recall that shortly after the record was finished, he was contacted by Mottola “obscenely early” in the morning and instructed to make a collaboration for Jennifer and Ja Rule "in the same style" of 'If We'.
      “He calls me because he found out that me and [Ja] Rule cut a record with Mariah Carey,” Gotti would later say. “And at the time he hated Mariah Carey. So he was pumping Jennifer Lopez to compete.” Mottola even loaned Gotti the company jet to ensure that Ja Rule, who was on tour at the time, would be able to film scenes for the music video for this collaboration. Gotti worked with Ashanti and Ja Rule to craft ‘I’m Real (Murder Remix)’, which was released shortly after to huge success and which sounded more than a little similar to ‘If We’.
      While J. Lo topped charts, Mariah began a downward spiral which started with the lukewarm reception to ‘Loverboy’ and only continued when the Glitter soundtrack was released on September 11th, 2001 (yes, that September 11). Matters only got worse when her father, who she had had little contact with since childhood, died of cancer, and she was bought out of her contract with EMI for $50 million.
      Despite this, Carey didn’t speak about the situation between her, Mottola and Lopez publicly until some time later. Speaking to MTV about the ‘Firecracker’ fiasco in 2002, Carey stated “Let's just say they did me a favor. And they know who they are. And thank you, sweetie. And your friend who did it with you!" The infamous “I don’t know her” remark wasn’t uttered until an interview on the shoot of 'Bringin' on the Heartbreak' in 2003, when Carey had clearly moved from sadness onto pettiness; and since then it’s been reiterated many times in many different ways.

      Which leaves us wondering: will this story ever have a happy ending for Carey and Lopez? Carey’s annoyance towards her manipulative ex-husband’s new plaything was understandable at the time, but this many years on it seems obvious that Lopez was only a pawn in Mottola’s game, and that he was the only one to blame for her career downfall. Lopez, who for her part has alternated between supportive and shady when asked about Mariah, is still on top years later, and we’re sure that Mariah could use some girl power to help her image recover from that New Year’s Eve fiasco. Here’s hoping that in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, the two will someday put this feud to rest and come out with an anti-Mottola duet of their own. ‘I Never Knew Him’, perhaps?
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  • What are your predictions for the 2019 Grammy Awards?   18 members have voted

    1. 1. Which song will win Record of the Year at the Grammy's?


      • Cardi B - I Like It (Feat. Bad Bunny & J Balvin)
      • Brandi Carlisle - The Joke
      • Childish Gambino - This Is America
      • Drake - God's Plan
      • Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper - Shallow
      • Kendrick Lamar & SZA - All The Stars
      • Post Malone - Rockstar (Feat. 21 Savage)
      • Zedd, Marin Morris & Grey - The Middle
    2. 2. Which album will win Album of the Year at the Grammy's?


      • Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy
      • Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
      • Drake - Scorpion
      • H.E.R. - H.E.R.
      • Post Malone - Beerbongs & Bentleys
      • Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer
      • Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
      • Various Artists - Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic
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