2012 play list con­test de­liv­ers di­ver­sity

Read­ers mix clas­sic Christ­mas songs with more off­beat sounds.

Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & ARTS - By Peter Mongillo pmongillo@states­man.com

Af­ter a week of por­ing over en­tries to our an­nual hol­i­day play list con­test, we have a win­ner (or three). It’s no sur­prise that hol­i­day tra­di­tions vary greatly, and this year’s batch of playlists was no dif­fer­ent, rep­re­sent­ing a di­verse sam­ple of the hol­i­day/ Christ­mas mu­sic world.

Part of that di­ver­sity came from the fairly wide-open rules of the con­test: Keep the list to 12 songs and con­sider the or­der the songs are played. Peo­ple crafted sound­tracks for many dif­fer­ent as­pects of the sea­son. Some lists came loaded with more se­ri­ous, re­flec­tive mate- rial; oth­ers of­fered mu­sic for spik­ing the eggnog.

Some en­tries stuck to a theme — re­li­gious, up­beat, sec­u­lar and so on. Some came packed with tried and true clas­sics, while oth­ers went de­cid­edly non­tra­di­tional, choos­ing less-com­mon in­ter­pre­ta­tions of old songs, or just less-com­mon songs all to­gether.

The lists var­ied greatly, though there were a few songs that popped up more than once (or twice). Joni Mitchell’s “River” we pop­u­lar, as were a few songs from last year’s She and Him al­bum “A Very She & Him Christ­mas.” Sev­eral en­tries in­cluded Elvis and Bing Crosby songs. A few dif­fer­ent ver­sions of “Mele Ka­liki­maka” proved pop­u­lar as well.

In the end, our team of

judges couldn’t pick just one over­all win­ner, so we called it a tie be­tween two very dif­fer­ent en­tries. A big thanks and happy hol­i­days to ev­ery­one who en­tered.

First place (tie), by Tracy Leonard

This list mostly sticks to stan­dards, but they’re good ver­sions of them. Wil­lie Nel­son’s “Jin­gle Bells” goes down like a warm cup of co­coa, for ex­am­ple, and up­beat and slow tem­pos are well mixed, es­pe­cially end­ing with “Have Your­self A Merry Lit­tle Christ­mas by the in­com­pa­ra­ble Judy Gar­land.

1. “It’s Be­gin­ning to Look a Lot Like Christ­mas,” Michael Bublé

2. “If Ev­ery Day Was Like Christ­mas,” Elvis Pres­ley

3. “Mele Ka­liki­maka,” Bing Crosby

4. “Jin­gle Bells,” Wil­lie Nel­son

5. “Mistle­toe and Holly,” Jack Jones

6. “Feliz Navi­dad,” Jose Feli­ciano

7. “Christ­mas­time is Here,” Vince Guaraldi Trio

8. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Ella Fitzger­ald

9. “O Holy Night,” Linda Eder

10. “The Christ­mas Waltz,” Frank Si­na­tra

11. “Happy Hol­i­days,” Andy Wil­liams

12. “Have Your­self a Merry Lit­tle Christ­mas,” Judy Gar­land

First place (tie), by Tim Ma­teer

Ma­teer went in a non­tra­di­tional di­rec­tion, from the Latin Hanukkah jam “Ocho Kan­de­likas” to Lord Dou­glas By­ron’s weirdo “Surfin’ Santa.” Per­fect for a party.

1. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” The Dave Brubeck Quar­tet

2. “’Twas the Night Be­fore Christ­mas,” Art Car­ney

3. “Señor Santa,” Y La Bamba

4. “Ocho Kan­de­likas,” Kenny El­lis

5. “Donde Esta Santa Claus?,” Guster

6. “(Ev­ery­body’s Waitin’ For) The Man With the Bag,” Black Prairie

7. “Cac­tus Christ­mas,” The Brian Set­zer Orches­tra

8. “Christ­mas in the Sand,” Col­bie Cail­lat

9. “Surfin’ Santa,” Lord Dou­glas By­ron

10. “Mele Ka­liki­maka,” Don Ho

11. “Feliz Navi­dad,” Los Strait­jack­ets

12. “An­other Christ­mas Song,” Stephen Col­bert

Third place, by Sten­nett Posey

A good mix of the clas­sic (“Jin­gle Bell Rock”), the more con­tem­po­rary (“All I Want for Christ­mas is You”), the soul­ful (Charles Brown, Elvis) and the somber (“The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy”).

1. “Jin­gle Bell Rock,” Bobby Helms

2. “All I Want for Christ­mas is You,” Mariah Carey

3. “Feliz Navi­dad,” Jose Feli­ciano

4. “O Holy Night,” Neil Di­a­mond

5. “Santa Claus is Back in Town,” Dwight Yoakam

6. “Please Come Home for Christ­mas,” Charles Brown

7. “Rockin’ Around the Christ­mas Tree,” Brenda Lee

8. “If Ev­ery Day Was Like Christ­mas,” Elvis Pres­ley

9. “Holly Jolly Christ­mas,” Burl Ives

10. “Santa Baby,” LeAnn Rimes

11. “Ru­dolph the RedNosed Rein­deer,” Gene Autry

12. “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy,” Johnny Cash

Hon­or­able men­tions

— Louisa Steggman, who says “since the in­ven­tion of recorded sound, my fam­ily has been the best at com­pi­la­tions.” Steggman’s list in­cludes Bach (“Jesu, Joy of Man’s De­sir­ing”), Nat King Cole (“The Hap­pi­est Christ­mas Tree”) and Aaron Neville (“Please Come Home for Christ­mas”).

— Jes­sica Ridge, for her pop-cen­tric mix, in­clud­ing Wham! (“Last Christ­mas”), the Wait­resses (“Christ­mas Wrap­ping”), and Ev­ery­thing But the Girl (“25th De­cem­ber”).

— Beth West, for her folk and acous­tic-ori­ented take on hol­i­day mu­sic, with Joni Mitchell (“River”), Foun­tains of Wayne (“Val­ley Win­ter Song”), Steve Earle (“Noth­ing But a Child”) and Slaid Cleaves (“One Good Year”).

Robert Plant and Patty Grif­fin’s set list fea­tured sev­eral songs from the Led Zep­pelin cat­a­log, in­clud­ing “Go­ing to Cal­i­for­nia.”

Col­bie Cail­lat

Jose Feli­ciano

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