Kelly Clarkson, “Wrapped In Red”
Every singer wants to have an original, holiday hit that assures seasonal play when winter rolls around. Ka-ching, baby! But kidding aside, Kelly has it going on here with a bunch of her new songs. The title track kicks off the disc with Kelly unleashing those mammoth pipes atop a seriously tantalizing and festive melody that’s low on schmaltz and high on passion. Then, the lively “Underneath The Tree” and “4 Carats” aim to capture the retro, hip-smacking vibe of Phil Spector’s output of the ’60s. Complete with a sexy sax solo, the former is the kind of song that makes us love the winter season. Now, as for the updates of the holiday songs you’ve heard millions of times, she adds some pumpkin spice to many. She mounts “Run Run Rudolph” with a rocking Gospel harness, and gives “Please Come Home For Christmas” an extra level of wistful rawness. Much credit should be given to producer Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, The Bird & The Bee) for letting Clarkson really glisten here. But how could she not? She remains one of the most dynamic singers on the pop landscape, and this marvelous collection will heartily warm your nuts by the fire.
Sam Sparro, “Spread A Little Love”
We wouldn’t mind meeting our fave queer Aussie crooner under the mistletoe ourselves this year, but this delightful tune will have to suffice. It’s pretty hard not to get caught up in all the positive vibes going on here, and Sam’s big vocals atop this feel-good little ditty will keep Dancer and Prancer’s hooves tapping.
Bobby C Sound TV, “Grinching Ain’t Easy”
The three words that best describe this are as follows, and I quote: funky, fresh, and festive. Yes, straight out of 1966 and given the “laser Christmas” treatment, “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” crunches through the snow with big beats for everyone in Whoville. Fun fact: the lyrics were written by Dr. Seuss himself, and these original vocals were sung by Thurl Ravenscrof, and not narrator Boris Karloff, which everyone assumed.
Gay Robots, “Jingle Bells”
These robots must be gay, because they are feeling it! Actually, they’re a side project of Polish producers Ben Crea & LPD. And if you can imagine Daft Punk, Zapp, Chic and Kraftwerk all guzzling egg nog under some red and green neon, you’ll get lucky – and get the idea. Danger, Will Robinson — this is a blast!
DJ John, “The Christmas Massacre of Charlie Brown”
Here’s another slice of beloved nostalgia from our childhood, as DJ John offers up Vince Guaraldi Trio’s classic “Linus & Lucy” with scratched vocal samples from the Peanuts gang. This comes from the annual Santastic series compiled by DJ BC, and the entire collection can be downloaded here.
SOUND & VISION:
Erasure, “Make It Wonderful”
The second official release from Erasure’s fabtastic Snow Globe holiday collection (which sounds more like classic Erasure and less like a Chrismas record) has much to love. The song is splendid, the stop-motion visuals (courtesy of Coraline protégé Martin Meunier) are enchanting, and the message of giving and love is powerful. While Andy Bell works his best skinny Santa, we’re hoping they’ll incorporate Vince Clarke’s bitchin’ keyboard car motif on tour in 2014.
DJ Paul V. has been offering up his alternative/electro beats on dance floors since 1982, most notably at LA’s Dragstrip 66. He’s also an accomplished blogger and author of Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay.