Day 23 dawns – only two more to go for my Advent Calendar until the big day. I hope everything is going well for you and that all your preparations are on course: those sprouts should have been on for a couple of days now. Today’s selection is two that I’ve played before plus a couple of new ones, though these are both from usual suspects.
Let’s get going, shall we? I’ve played one of my favourite covers bands a couple of times already this year, but this is another of theirs that is new to the Advent Calendar this year:
Feliz Navidad was written in 1970 by Jose Feliciano, who was the first to record his song. It has attained massive popularity in North America, and is regarded as a Christmas classic there, having reached #6 in the US singles chart and #10 in Canada. It has taken much longer to get going here in the UK, though, but thanks to the inclusion of downloads in our charts and the pervasive influence of American pop culture it finally became a UK single hit at Christmas 2016, and is now on an unbroken run of seven consecutive appearances which have to date amounted to a grand total of eighteen weeks: this year it is in its third week, and is currently at #34, though its highest placing was last year at #25. One more chart to go, later today, if it is to beat that. Regulars will know how much I enjoy the rock treatment First To Eleven bring to the songs they cover, and this is a typical example of that: I think it’s great.
That was First To Eleven’s third visit here this year, and part of the cast of this next one is also here for a third time. This is an absolute beauty of a song:
It’s Almost Christmas was co-written by Ingrid Michaelson and the two guys who are A Great Big World – Chad Vaccarino and Ian Axel – and was released as a single two weeks ago. I think it is a wonderful song, and the animation matches its beauty. You’ve seen Ingrid here before, but would need a good memory for A Great Big World – but you’ll be seeing them again soon as they have a fabulous New Year song which I’ve played before and will be sharing again next week.
This next one is a song I play most years. You’ve already seen two versions this year of Little Drummer Boy, but not like this:
That is so typical of the creativity that Walk Off The Earth bring to their videos, and I think it is fantastic. It was released nine years ago and, given the size of their fan base (over 4.3m YouTube subscribers), I’m surprised that it has only accumulated just over 2m views in that time. I’d have expected more, to be honest, but it is still great fun and I never tire of watching it.
Given how much I am drawn towards female singer-songwriters today’s final song is one that I’ve played before. I somehow managed to omit it last year but it is worthy of a repeat:
I’m afraid I could only find an audio-only version of this song, but it is lovely nonetheless. As the video shows, this was a track on Shawn’s album Holiday Songs And Lullabies, released in 1998. Like most of her records it made only a tiny dent on the charts, reaching #181 in the US but not charting anywhere else. The album is a mixture of traditional carols and songs, with a few later ones, and I commend it to you. This song – along with the entire album – isn’t actually one of her own: it was written by Margaret Rose (lyrics) and the composer Michael Head (music). I’m not sure when, as their Wikipedia biographies aren’t too forthcoming: all I can find is that Margaret died in 1936 so it has to be before then! Amongst others, the song has been recorded by Judy Collins and, in his boy treble days, by Aled Jones, and YouTube also offers a number of choral versions. They are all taken at a slower pace than Shawn’s version, and I rather like the way she has treated it – it just feels better, somehow.
Throughout this season I have been sharing a number of tearjerker videos with you as closing pieces. This will be the last one for now, but is another that fits the bill perfectly:
Try as I might I can find very little about Jeff Pratt, who made this film. He has an Instagram account which identifies him as coming from Pennsylvania and made a few videos on YouTube from 2018 to 2020, of which this was the last. Other than that – zilch. But he clearly has talent and Ryn, his dog, seems to have picked up on that too. Who needs words when you have an actor with such an expressive face? The simple message, that if we believe in something our wishes may come true, is lovely.
That’s all for today, but as always I’ll leave you with another tasteful image:
See you on Christmas Eve (that’s tomorrow, if you hadn’t realised) 🎄