Thursday, December 1, 2011

Columnist names new Christmas classics

By Alex Domine, A&E Columnist

As the next generation of college students transition into adulthood, 21 years worth of Christmas songs make the transition from contemporary to classic.

There are the classics such as Bing Crosby’s "White Christmas", the best-selling single of all time, selling 50 million copies, according to The Guinness Book Of World Records.

Which new Christmas songs will our generation find notable enough to call classic?

Here are the top five songs that are already on their way to becoming Christmas classics.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by N’Sync (1998)

"Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" by N’Sync lands a top five spot because it taps into my childhood in the traditional sense as well indulging my guiltiest of satisfactions, boy bands.

The song is upbeat and with lyrics like “We’ve been waiting all year” in its introduction. It is a great after-Thanksgiving anthem to welcome the official start of the season.

The first and only released single from the N’Sync’s Christmas repertoire is still on the iTunes Top Holiday Songs more than 10 years later.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Glee (2010)

Glee has been making light of controversy since its debut in 2009. The popular a cappella-themed TV show touches on race, infidelity, teen pregnancy and homosexuality.

Glee features Kurt Hummel, played by Chris Colfer and Blaine Anderson, played by Darren Criss, one of television’s only gay couples.

Their first duet on the show, "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" by Frank Loesser, lands at number four because of its bold, yet charming statement. Glee took the untraditional idea of two men singing a love song and included it in the most traditional of holidays. In addition, it was an excellent fresh arrangement to an old classic.

The voices of Criss and Colfer agree with each other. Criss provides a soft and understated indie campfire tone to compliment Colfer’s tenor translation of Ella Fitzgerald jazz.

The number was never officially released as a single and was still the best-received number in the Christmas episode of Glee. Erica Futterman of Rolling Stone Magazine said it is “full of sweet harmonies and has an ideal undercurrent of romantic tension.”

Glee’s "Baby, It’s Cold Outside" will remain among the better covers of Loesser’s classic. The album A Very Glee Christmas is on the iTunes Top 20.

Christmas Shoes by NewSong (2000)

Novelty is a secret ingredient in pop music hits. "Christmas Shoes" by Christian vocal group NewSong earns its place at number three regardless of cliché.

The overall kitsch of the song leaves those with a low threshold for gimmicks nauseated. However, if there is ever a time to embrace the overdone, it’s the Christmas season. The song is just the right balance of cathartic and kitsch to make it a prospective classic. "Christmas Shoes" doesn’t display the sort of musical sophistication that many classic songs have. Its claim to future success lies in the novelty of the audience’s response.

Whether you think the song is a pun or is poignant, the extremity of those reactions will make this song memorable. The song is currently on iTunes Top 40.

Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1995)

"Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24" by Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a medley featuring "Carol of the Bells" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".

The thickness of the piece in regards to instrumentation and volume makes it identifiable and separate from the typical arrangement and earns its spot at number two.

The TSO is a progressive metal band that incorporates orchestral, symphonic and dense instrumentation in its music. Furthermore, TSO performs with complete staging including a massive light and laser show as well as fire effects and video screens. All of these performance effects are synchronized to the music of the concert.

The piece grows, adding layers of musical texture that eventually amount to an emotional finale reminiscent of music of the romantic era such as music by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff.

This orchestration is on its way to being a classic because of the modern twist to a renowned tune. The two melodies used in this song are folk chants and carols that are more than 100 years old and have been covered numerous times. Therefore, each generation has a rendition it identifies with.

The Recording Industry of America certifies songs platinum when they reach one million units sold. Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24 is certified double platinum by the RIAA and is currently number four on the iTunes chart.

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (1994)

Mariah Carey’s irresistible original, "All I Want For Christmas Is You," lands in the number one spot.

The song is rhythmic and laden with chimes, a back up choir and sleigh bells. Carey’s vocals leading the ornate orchestration is the perfect combination to spread the holiday spirit. Simply put, the song is fun to listen to.

According to Nielsen Business Media, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" was the 19th best-selling digital single of the 20th Century, highest charted holiday song and highest charted song by a female artist.

In 2012, Rolling Stone Magazine called it a “holiday standard” and stated it was the fourth-best Rock and Roll Christmas song of all time. The RIAA has ranked it as the number one downloaded ringtone and the first to be certified double platinum. "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is number two on the iTunes chart for more than 16 years.

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As the next generation of adults adopts its own traditions, a new canon of Christmas music will be passed down. Just as those of us who grew up in the 90s listened to the 1940s classics that our parents grew up with, the hits of the last 20 years will provide the soundtrack for the childhoods of future generations.