Chanukah II

Everyone expects the Novelty here to be Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song Part 2” (have you heard Neil Diamond‘s original?), but NO–can’t hear that One More Time. No means something else.
Yet, while we’re on the Billy Madison topic, check on the fan parody by René Marcellus and Christina Hondromihalis. They really want to be in one of his movies or something, so they sing about Chanukah to Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance.’ It’s called “Gaga Hanukkah with Adam Sandler.” You might believe it after you’ve seen it.
Gotta give Sandler the props for his cartoon movie “Eight Crazy Nights.” I watch this every year and still laugh (go figure). The weirdly realistic animation (Ralph Bakshi stylized), the super-cool man-child loser hero, the two-edged sword of ageism and intolerance toward prejudice, and the meandering moralistic songs… wow. I could go “The Bum Biddy Song” because it’s more ethnic, but i always default with “Davey’s Song.” Rebellious angst and holiday hate. Isn’t that just a little bit Chanukah?

Chanukah: Round One

First off: Chanukah, what is it, who does it, how do you spell it?
Not my job, people. (If you want to learn if it’s Jesus’ Christmas, view the Puppet Tutorial.)
But i will celebrate the music. The LeeVees is the merger of two NY rock bands (one reportedly only wrote songs about hockey) in order to fill in the gap of cool Chanukah songs. Their ’05 album Hanukkah Rocks does that and more. You should also laugh to “Applesauce vs. Sour Cream” and “Goyim Friends.”

State Fifty: Hawaii

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
The Aloha State is technically Americans who are foreigners. (Aren’t we all?) They have their own Christmas song–in their own foreign language. I am not gonna bother with “Mele Kalikimaka” in any version (not even Don Ho) nor even any ‘funny’ version (not even the appropriately polka version by Reel Big Fish on the 1997 KROQ Christmas album). But i might mention an illuminating Tom Scott linguistic breakdown of the exact translation of that phrase. Moving on…
Christmas in the Rainbow State” by Stasia Estep is exactly what we’d hope for. It’s vaguely authentic and mentions all the highlights of holiday-ing in Hawaii. But it veers into pop-country and got used on the modern Hawaii Five-O TV show. Too bourgeoise allasudden.
Sam Sims has also been included in that TV soundtrack with his “Hawaiian Christmas.” It’s a bit too much uke, slack key, and mele kalikimaka. I’ve got way too many Island versions of the trads to get excited here.
Red Peters’s “Have a Wonderful Hawaiian Christmas” gets so ethnically racist i’m not sure the ‘kamon ai wanna lei ya’ nonsense is nostalgic for horrible strip comics from the ‘Fifties, or just intolerantly insensitive. Naw, it’s hate.
OFFICIAL BLUE ALERT While we’re down and dirty, consider The Jackofficers (a side project of a couple of the Butthole Surfers) techno-sampling for “An Hawaiian Christmas.” Nothing naughty, but nothing fun. Ahh, the ’90s!
Just as messed up is Dan Barletta Jr. and his “Hawaiian Christmas Song” which adds feedback to reverb to electric guitar versions of surf music versions of carols (and Hawaii Five-O‘s intro).
Joey Mackee gets all cheesy lounge nightclub with his “Christmas in Hawaii.” That’s one way to do it.
Strange electronic bleating sets the beat for Motogawa Music’s “Christmas in the Islands.” There’s a pretty song in there somewhere, but it seems put together by commitee.
Patrick Landza goes gently comic with “Hula Girl for Christmas.” It’s all harmonious innocence and regional ha-cha-cha. Cute wish list, kid.
These Polyneisan pagans are converts though. And you can hear the angelic church messages in Roddy Lopez’s “Hawaiian Christmas.” It is a medley (gah!) but it’s too pretty not to consider.
Too many 12 Days for here, but “Numbah One Day of Christmas” (by every sweet-voice singer out HI way) seems more authentic than travesty.
Dana Spencer’s “Mahalo Santa Claus” gets us down to the children’s level and makes us sit in a circle with percussive sticks and sing along. Sweet and sincere (and from that great set Christmas Across America).
Hawaiian kids are the best singers, guys! “My Hawaiian Christmas” from some odd compilation decades ago (Hawaii’s Favorite Christmas Songs) tugs at the heartstrings (although that graceless pianer plinking is offputting).
The Merriest Hawaiian Christmas” as sung by Honolulu Boy Choir, is more cherubim Christmas, marred by orchestration. (They also have a “Christmas in Hawaii.” It’s soporific!) (Don’t forget “Makahiki, the Christmas Mehune” a more arcanely culturally transposed version of white Santa. I love those.)
A couple ol’ gals in their dining room wail on their ukuleles and sing “Taro Patch Christmas.” Lei’ohu and Maydeen cast a spell on the season with their chuckling and hard harmonies. You can hear it better on Lei’ohu’s album, but i likes the comraderie of the home-made version here. Mahalo, women.
The sad white version of hey–it’s just us singing is done by The Chestnuts (Geri Grayson and Greg Blunt), “Hawaiian Christmas Song” sounds like old Canadian mounties competitively singing falsettos to their lady loves.
My favorite parody is a homespun Canadian group The Yule Be Sorrys singing “Away in Hawaii” (taking off of ‘Away in a Manger’)
revealing why we have so many ho hum Hawaiian Christmas songs: us cold boring mainlander Americans go there then and they gots to entertain us with some provincial localism.
Time for sunny fun! Odd Polynesian gods laugh down on scared natives in Na Leo’s “Santa Island.” It’s condescending pidgin AND funny. Laughing with… i guess. Oh probably just racist, like Jar Jar Binks.
Now if Santa can be mamboing he can certainly be hulaing. Californians Punama and Graden Island Blend put together “The Santa Hula Song” for gifts and giggles.
Uncle Benny Kai hit us with “Hawaiian Santa,” another so so offering, fun to dance to and reminiscent of Islanders, but come on… that da-dooda da-dooda is just musical warming up.
Patrick Canning has a haunting holiday hymn, “Hawaiian Christmas.” It’s barely holding on harmony and dreamlike alt-World music edge transports me like i’m drifting on the tide… the yuletide, natch! This Newfoundlandian folk singer writes a Christmas song every year and makes his own horrible video to accompany it. They skirt taste deliciously. Check him out.

well, gang, that’s fifty… so far. Okay fiddy-tree since i threw in D.C., Virgin Islands, and Lakota Nation. After the actual holidays which are nearing i’ll get back to PR, Samoa, Guam, N. Mariana (but probably not the little islands nor atolls: Wake, Midway, Palmyra, Johnston).

NEXT TIME: CHANUKAH

State Forty-Nine: Alaska

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
Welcome to the top of the world where a town names itself North Pole and in another town a guy who has changed his name to Santa Claus was elected mayor. But when you’re hoping for cool yule Last Frontier songs… not so much.
The Capitol Steps. of course, have a Sarah Palin Christmas comedy song: “A Sarah Palin Christmas.” It’s kinda about Alaska. It’s kinda about humor.
Millennial mistletoe candy, The End Credits, perform “An Alaskan Christmas Carol” as an emo boy chant. Boys are (dirty, not as funny as they think they are) boys everywhere, but these guys evoke a real musical theater Native American roiling romp. Color me amused.
Homemade folk squeezes out of Jeffrey and Teresa’s “Christmas in Alaska.” Children everywhere are uncoordinatedly rocking out.
But, here comes Hank Thompson’s 1964 “It’s Christmas Every Day in Alaska.” It’s firing on every Johnny Horton piston. Rockabilly guitar under aw shucks bass (with a touch of yodel) vocals paints a picture of far away advent adventure. AK is Christmas-land!! Brrr! ing out the figgy pudding.
 
 

State Forty-Eight: Washington

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
The Evergreen State is just a bit damp with winter wit.
Duffy Bishop sends up the old saw ‘Walkin in a Winter Wonderland’ with “Sippin’ in Seattle’s Latte Land.” It’s just barely funny. But that’s funny enough for Washingtonians.
Dana Spencer gives us earnest bluegrass hollerin’ with “It’s Christmas Eve in Washington.” Those St. Helens survivors are just a bunch of pioneer wild west hombres anyway. Humbug.
Guess I’ll stick with wackiness. The Double Tall Skinny Strangers have poured their hearts out to mock Carol of the Bells by lamenting how lousy their Sound weather is in “(Just Another) Wet Seattle Christmas.” This ‘tube version (blasted over the speakers of an eight-year-olds’ dance recital) includes the grunge guitar interlude that sends this sendup over the top to the classical heights of xmas xcess.

State Forty-Six: California

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
Take a mistletoe scented breath…
Mary Mary, a gospel duo, has “California Christmas” to tell you with fingersnapping auto tune what you already know about family and love. Danceable.
Lori ‘Stand Up Lori’ Hernandez sings “The California Christmas Song” with her dad parodizing Disney tunes. They should win at least third prize at her school talent contest.
California Christmas” by Brooke Fox is a valentine to her family. It does that pop music thing of starting out folk and intimate then surging into orchestrated orgasm to show you the heights of feeling. My ears are ringing.
Megan Coffey finally stops complaining about the warmish weather in CA and does something about it: the wish story “A White Christmas in California.” Adorably done.
Snow in California” by Ariana Grande ups the professional quality while dropping most of the content. Not feeling the fruitcake.
California Christmas” by Back in the Day purports to be a tribute to the ’70s. Apart from from poor recording quality, the only nostalgia i get here is bad poetry. The mismatched mumbled harmony, the wandering uncertain chords, the boy band emo–that’s so last decade.
Actual ’70s overly important musical madness comes from Brian Battles with his “Christmas in California.” Flocked with folk rock, decorated with proto-disco, this tune tinsels my tree.
Wayback yourself to the ‘Eighties and relive the overorchestrated Captain and Tennille with “Christmas in California” for a formally made-for-teevee oldies romp.
The Dan Band also has fun with their own beach rock (comedy) version “Christmas Time in California.” They fancy themselves the bad boy version of ‘Eighties cover bands i guess. Naughty list, Mr. C.
California Xmas” by Marcella Detroit pairs pop with tuba and tubular bells in a way that makes me smile. the overexposed silhouettes and casual complaints about it being sunny task me, but more of this holiday hooting needs a uke beside it.
Tyler Weinrich warbles through the begging love tune “Christmas in California.” It’s high pitched, pretty, and too much. Give her some space, bitch.
California Christmas” by Leah Felder has got a nice island twang. From the guitar, that is. Her ootsy-wootsy boopsie vocals are a bit creepsy.
Scott Strauss’s “California Christmas” bounces country against show tune wailing to underline how inappropriate the weather and culture is in CA. We get it.
California Christmas” by Oh, Hush! candy-canes the overly electronic pop sounds of modern times. But the music video itself is a delightful smashup of cartoons, holiday specials, other music videos, and postcards. These boys are playing fast and loose with copyrights, baby jesus love ’em.
California Christmas Sweater” by the Original Farquad Boys slam some alt-garage-style-rock to snark up the whole uncomfortable to be home for The Folks’ Holidays. Finally, Golden State irony.
John Peter Lewis sings “California Christmas” like he’s a Beach Boy in a retrospective. He can play the guitar, though. This is solid music.
Softer guitar folky-altrock somes from The Culprit Media Group with their “California Christmas.” That uke won’t quit.
C. Myles Young sings “Christmas in California” as a smokey lounge closer. His blase travelogue puts the blues on the Golden State.
Gram Rabbit’s “California Christmas” goes SouWest pop, but their Christian message is undercut by the undertones of sexual depravity.
The Living Sisters lay down a real California style: surreal folk, blowsy breathy harmony, woo woo backups… i love  their “Christmas in California.”
Over popped (to Disney and beyond!) comes “Christmas in California” by the Cheetah Girls. I think i had an epileptic seizure.
Every English major’s first girlfriend, Brooke White, sings “California Christmas” like a sexy muppet cross-legged on unfortunate furniture. She wails her heart out through the poor recording and makes your spirit rise (a little).
‘Rice Boy’ Liu wants to keep it real with his West Coast Eastern Civ rap “California Christmas.” He’s playful and “corny as shit” but shines like a first grade hand made tree ornament.
White rapper Manafest also sings “California Christmas” with more anger and more melody.
More dangerously Andrew Angus batters a tiny piano with too much electric feedback and chants his mantra ‘California Christmas‘ until you wonder what else is on.
Sarah LaForge and Micky Lopez tinkle out a homegrown amateur hopeful “California Christmas” with the best posture i’ve ever seen. It’s sweet and hard to hear.
Who let the four-year-old out? “Jessica’s California Christmas Song” giggles and hollers and makes warm fun of ‘Jingle Bells.’ Looks like you can buy the album on itunes and support her bluesy musical fam.
Brad Peterson lalas his way through a soulful howling bluesrock version of “California Christmas.” Talented, yet i was left a little cold.
Let’s try piano! TJR’s “Christmas in California” is more upbeat and chipper. So kids’ song, right?
California Winters” by Jonny Craig raise the maturity of blues rock to the depression of the season.
Bonnie McKee’s “California Winter” is so much more pop and perky I am depressed in a completely new way.
Overpopped and Barbied is Melissa Lyons singing “A California Christmas” as Barbie in the movie ‘A Barbie Christmas Carol.’ Your expectations will be met.
Pat Boone got all weird and ironic in 2011 and made an album full of comic riffs on Christmas (‘spretty good), which includes “A California Christmas Card.”
It’s mostly earnest and grandpapperly. You may have already heard his “Is It Really Christmas in L.A.?” If not, count your presents–you got lucky.
More regionally, “Christmas by the Bay” pits gravelly throated Tim Hockenberry against sax and ivories. He wins, and the mellow jazz seems to lead you gently by the hand to a made-for-TV-movie.
For a humorous “Christmas by the Bay” check out the stand up with a guitar, Corey Largent. Folk fun, if not funny.
Jamie Davis of The Count Basie Orchestra lays an ultra mellow deep bass salsa “Christmas Eve in San Francisco.” Is that the tryptophan or his voice….
Barry De Vorzon croons “Christmas Once Again in San Francisco,” an aw shucks homey country jingle. He also sings “Chistmas Once Again in Santa Barbara” (the original), and “Christmas Once Again in San Diego.” Yes, they are all the same (he’s also got “Christmas Once Again in Honolulu” because he’s a one-trick pony… i’m sorry but there it is).
Vic Damon  owns “Christmas in San Francisco” though. His warbling warmth sells this Christmas corn. The younger verzh is by Russ Lorenzo.
For a little comic relief: “Christmas Sucks in San Francisco” by the Downer Party addresses the unfortunate hipsters who don’t know how happy merry joyous they are allowed to be.
Tom Lehrer’s “Hanukkah in Santa Monica” is so popularly hilarious it has many covers: The Gay Mens’ Chorus of Los Angeles, The San Francisco Gay Mens’ Chorus, Quire Cleveland, Rent-a-Yenta, Claremont High School, New Jersey Cantors’ Assembly, Brandeis University’s Jewish Fella A Acappella, 29 Seconds (a barbershop quartet), and dozens of others. A San Diego TV station KUSI even perpetrated a youth choir J*Company to sing “Hannukah in San Diego.” If you’re not laughing yet, you’re not Jewish.
Bosen & Suede deliver on a homemade no-room-at-the-inn lament “San Diego Christmas Song.” A coupla dudes migrate from the Midwest to SoCal and–guess what?–they’re sad at Xmas. Earnest.
While there give an elfy ear to “Christmas Eve in San Diego” by Neal Svalstad. The song owes an awful lot to ‘A Boy Named Sue,’ in melody as well as humor. Nice landmark/celebrity catalog.
Now, since we’re near the border, we should allow for non-English songs–so swing and sway to “Christmas in San Diego” by Janusz Supernak. Don’t worry, the lyrics are included (in the original Polish).
Back to The Big Orange: “LA Xmas (The Los Angeles Airport Christmas Song)” by Brad Stubbs stumbles through harmonica and tambourine folk protest about the very real problem of LA not being home. Dude, wish something off Santa’s lap and cheer the holly up.
BLUE ALERT: Hollywood Undead amuse themselves with suburban rap (more naughty obscenity than anger) in “Christmas in Hollywood.” This is a big internet hit, yo. (Nightcore do an auto tune chipmunk alternative.)
Rachel Reenstra plays with white privilege using more wit and talent in “Hollywood Christmas Song.” If you can wade through the self-congratulatory amateurism (Outtakes!), it’s a good song.
Jay Nash (with one of my faves, Sara Bareilles) moans out the usual shattered dreams/shattered ornaments noel with “Christmas in Los Angeles.” It’s unplugged and strong, but old hat.
Slightly more hopeful are Shane and Happy singing “Christmas in Los Angeles.” Folk lite.
Brian Irwin is a Canuck singing country in “Christmas in LA.” North Fish outta water plays well with his pretty vocals and clever rhymes.
I hate to reward the overworked 12 Days, but we are going for it… “12 Days of Christmas in L.A./The 405” by Kimberley Arland and Deborah Arnott is a bit funny (has outtakes), and uses shorthand, so ok.
BEFORE YOU BURN OUT WATCH THIS: Dawes pairs with The Killers for “Christmas in L.A.” an alt rock self examination (part and parcel of citizenship therein). The Owen Wilson (Harry Dean Stanton cameo) video (half cartoon) rocks. And the average sized and shaped poetry of the music is elevated by this Youtube vision. Liked it.
Since i’ve got a sweet soft spot for the ’70s, i must also recommend Vulfpeck’s “Christmas in L.A.” which pays homage to disco, moog, and other elctropop so blithely i’m in a good mood (for once). Can i just suggest Michael Jackson meets Frank Zappa and see what you think?
White boy snark tries to pass for hip hop with Notable Gentleman’s “Christmas in L.A.” They can bust a move, though.
Torching up the joint Olivia Rox swans through “Christmas in L.A.” vamping up the sand and sun. Girl’s got some range, but she’s just another talented cute blonde in the City of Fallen Angels.
Dead Sara earthenifies the blonde with “Snow in Los Angeles.” She, too, has the range of a Christmas tree, but uses it to sell the raw, slightly singed emotions. I like the Aimee Mann thing here.
BLUE ALERT: Goofing on the boy band modulated music mix, Ethan Newberry sings “I Hate Christmas in L.A.” Ha ha, now i hate myself, ha.
To cure my overinflated sense of cynical irony, i need a dose of Lawrence Welk and His Orchestra sashaying through “Christmas in Los Angeles.” Whew. makes me feel all dressed up and important.
I tried to keep it under 50 California Christmas songs, guys, i really did. I barely looked around. And i know there’s so many more. But i gotta settle on the song you should hear. No hesitation here. My sister takes me to see The Bobs every Christmas. They are a West Coast a cappella group what vocalizes all the instruments in their wacky interps of hit pop tunes and underserved oddities. Their “Christmas in L.A.” is not only hauntingly peaceful, but also childishly satirical of La-La Land. Merry

State Forty-Five: New Mexico

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
It’s not Mexico, but who can tell?
There’s one big NM song for Feliz Navidad, so no one else bothered.
Because i’m desperate, i’d like to include “The Abluquerque Song” by Mr. Burns, not the bird-shaped one, but some teacher some kid recorded (surreptitiously from aught i can tell). This is a holiday hymn to the homeless and other social ills from that metropolis.
KOB4 Action News Albequerque has a ‘tube “Twas the Night Before Christmas in New Mexico” and it’s talky and futzy and ethically white. Not a song at all. Desperate, too.
So let’s get to it. “Christmas in New Mexico” by Jerry Dean has that local flavor i been talkin’ ’bout. Jerry Dean is the son of Al Hurricane and has been serenading Alburquerque for decades. This is one of his few songs in English. If you are not sure how important an Advent anthem as proudly local as this can become check out KOAT Channel 7 Action News Albequerque’s news story about it. This is the one yule tune that will admit no other. I mean, it’s fun and educates non-bilingualists pretty gently and, is it yummy! Check out the festive feasting these Land of Enrichment-ites indulge in at that time of year! Ole.

State Forty-Four: Arizona

FIFTY DAYS OF ‘MERICA-MAS
Well, i can’t find any Grand Canyon sized Nativity scenes sung about for the AZ, so let’s settle for hokey-folk.
The White Family (Mr. and Mrs. White, and White Jr.) melodize all your favorites for “2010’s Another White Christmas (In Arizona).” It’s a break from all the oddities i’ve collected to watch a home movie of Arizonians play-acting for all their friends. Okay, that’s pretty odd, too. Maybe not.
Vic Sorrell is included in Christmas Across America with “The Gift of Arizona.” This is corrido-style, all spiritually sad and didn’t-get-what-he-wanted-for-Xmas-Eve-from-Mexico (it was love).
While we’re on the subject of the neighbor to the south, let’s give a careful listen to “Christmas Time in Arizona” by Aaron Parr & the Hereford Boys. Hey look, the border patrol checks out Santa! I guess AZ identifies with illegales so much that the whole state celebrates the holidays with official papers, not xmas cards. With such an insistent guitar beat and campfire hoarse harmony, it’s hard to judge how humorous this is supposed to be. Are hot dogs and pie traditional yule fare down there?