It’s All Relative, the good stuff

I started out this month looking to compare Christmas novelty songs about loving family and loathing family. I’m going to have to admit the good outweighs the bad in quantity and quality. So let’s cap off the festivities with some coolcoolcool numbers i’ll listen to more than once.

Gene Wang leads a jazz ensemble in “Christmas Means Family” that knows how to set a mood. And the mood is good.

Here’s some new age dance music. The pagan party spirit of “Christmas in Your Family’s Arms” makes me think i can dance (i can’t really). Cheryl Hillier haunts my visions of sugarplums.

Pop country leaves me feelin’ empty inside. So imagine my surprise that Stephen Day’s “Family Christmas” uplifts me. Is it the blues underlying the tempo? Is it the irreverent folk? Gotta recommend.

Luigi Scaglione (later known by his performing name “Lou Monte”) hit with ‘Bella Notte’ and ‘Darktown Strutters’ Ball’ and is even known to Christmas novelty with ‘Dominick the Donkey.’ But “Christmas at Our House” is a saucy meatball of ethnic hammery. 1960 we all wished our family was that loving and close. Joe Dolce (the ‘Shaddup You Face’ guy) covers this even more sweetly (in 1981 when racism was more funny).

It’s All Relative, non-white

White people have family problems, from dysfunctionality to red-neckery to, well, racism. People of color may have the occasional hubbub and brouhaha, but when they are family they ARE related. Share it!

Lambert Wilson captures the calypso canticle with “Family,” a raw expression of love for the folks.

A little more island music from Clifford Clarke’s “Family Christmas.” He’s got the family love, so he’s wishing it all around the world. Unity, mon.

Motown plus from James Shelton, Kuipiio Livingston, Peggy James, and Christopher L Poole flips for joy in “Family.” They build a love fest.

Karew Family rolls into some Motown rap with “Family Holiday.” Nonverbal expressions of wonderment and happiness.

Lizzy Morris ups the R+B to gospel with “Family Christmas.” She feels it, she means it. That’s love, baby.

Curtis Turrentine relies on the beat with his soul-ful “Family Christmas.” More stories. (And a ‘Family Affair’ mash up.) But they’re synced up.

Soul disco from Steven Drayton, Tony Terry, Kizzle, and The Messenger bounces and pops out “Family Christmas.” No lie. Just fun.

Bloodstone layers on the soul (and disco) to elevate “Christmas Day with My Family.” Beautiful. And they greet you at the end of the song (with family stories)! Now you belong!

It’s All Relative, what?

The powerful concept of family for Christmas inspires far and wide. Way far. Far side far. Some of these songs are to WTF for me to pigeonhole, but not to appreciate.

The Shake blues-metals around the bush for “Families and Christmas Trees.” Just distractions from the real meaning of life?

The Studs punk-metals a rollercoaster of feels for “Donner Family Christmas Party.” Pain = life. Don’t eat each other.

More punk metal from DIE NASTY. “It’s Christmas (My Family’s All Dead)” smells like a parody, but it’s not really about –oh i give up. Sociopathy.

More quietly, Chris Mayor draws out the alt-rock so that each word takes a half dozen notes. Christmas isn’t at issue here (i think) but family inspired by the holidays is. And “Family” is on his Xmas EP. So here goes:

It’s All Relative, lovelovelove

If love had a center, it should be in the home. All the possibilities of growth, hope, being begin in a happy warm hearth. Christmas, we could wish, is the opportunity to express, share, and achieve the pinnacle of that completion.

Patch the Pirate (?!) creates a musical cartoon for the ears with “Christmas at Our House,” a religious orgasm of happy family time. Quaint kidsong.

Errol Brown electro-R+Bs “Family Christmas Time” to the pinnacle of ecstacy. Family is it, man. Nuthin’ better.

Soaring above the mundanity Ann Hampton Calloway (and sis Liz) praise and ask “God Bless My Family.” Not so much with the Christmas gathering, but a pretty good contribution to the spirit of the holiday.

It’s All Relative, that’s just awful

What better way to conjure how awkward family time is for X’s Bday than to sing terribly. Verisimilitude evokes.

Franker217 (no names please) tries his best with his own “A Family Christmas Song.” I’ll never be as brave as he, but surely i’ll be missing notes that well. Middle of the road lounge.

Veghalen (don’t unmask!) cobbles out some rock/blues with their “Family Christmas Song.” I guess they like Xmas?!

Naming names (with record contracts) Collier Bloom Band is more about the aural landscape than the song. So “Christmas with Family” is warbling and tympanic and jazz all over the place. Swing and a miss.

Anne Marie Pincivero keeps it simple with “Christmas is Family,” a guitar dirge of presents, and cheer, and mumbling.

It’s All Relative, the family-shaped hole

We know family is so important for Christmas when we can’t see them. That void can only be filled with a song.

Serving your country can keep you from home. Daniel O’Flaherty mourns “Christmas Without Family” in spare Celtic folk. Wait, is he in prison?

Crappy Canadian pop from Rita MacNeil promises she’ll share “With My Family.” Perhaps they’re not here right now… or they’re dead… can’t tell.

Jesse Daniel Smith gets melancholic about his absence with “Please Hang Out with Your Family,” an alt-reggae bit o’ the blues. Learn from his pain.

It’s All Relative, upbeat bad

The family is a nerve-shattering struggle around the holidays, so why not make light of it and live longer?

Despite the title of the song, Kristin Key puts a bluesy bluegrass spin on “Hate My Family at Christmas.” Everything comes out jokey and jolly with banjo!

Krismas Kookies also barbershop quintets more bluesy bluegrass with “Dysfunctional Family Christmas.” Everyone (even the dog) is annoying, but how bad can it be? There’s apple pie!

Nick Sanabria’s “Dysfunctional Family Christmas” gets violent with slapping and breaking dishes and slamming doors. But the easy listening carol music undercuts the blows with merry irony.

Copperlily blows off the roof with a pop (country) celebration in “My Family’s Crazy (At Christmas Time).” The foibles are party favors in this house.

It’s All Relative, truly rural

Families are different outside the pollution of urban sprawl. Time slows, flavors burst, eye contact is made (briefly). At Christmas families matter out in the hills and backwoods.

Cities can intrude even out there. An encore from Walter Brennan who chats out “Just Three Letters for Christmas.” This is best paired with Red Peters’s “You Ain’t Gettin’ Sh*t for Christmas.” Bad families!

Ginger Minj (feat. Carnie Wilson) holla onto the good ol’ fashioned “Down Home Country Christmas.” ‘It ain’t a country Christmas ’til someone calls the cops,’ they pop croon. Got it? This might be paired with Lauren Mayer’s “Good Old down Home Country Chanukah.” Yee oi.

Barry Ward gets quietly oversentimental with strong “Farm Family” values for the holidays. Folksy country that might make you stand and put a hand over your heart.

Overdoes it also from Barbara Mandrell and “Christmas at Our House,” a sappy pop country whiner (not improved by a tinkly Lorrie Morgan, nay nay). I do wish your last scraps of memories to be like these candy coated impressions.

It’s All Relative, pathology

You know the meme: ‘If you met my family, you’d understand.’ It’s as funny today as ‘I’m turning into my mother!’ was 25 years ago. But families don’t just have a chemistry (good or bad), they have a diagnosis.

They might be poorly sung: the family rehab showtune from Monique Madrid “Family Christmas Song” wherein the digs are made with love/hate.

They might be soulful parody: the ‘Silver Bells’ unplugged acid resignation as “Frozen Smiles” from Nancy McKeown. Cue the discordant whistlers!

Passive-aggressive gets its own spotlight. “Have Yourself a Passive Aggressive Christmas” from Keef Baker tosses us another parody. Or else… what? Joshua Tyra resupplies our amateur showtune (this time with more range) in “A Passive-Aggressive Christmas.” Growling through gnashed teeth! Original talent comes from queens Jinkx Monsoon (feat. Major Scales) and their “Passive Aggressive Christmas.” Jazzy showtune about how to swallow it.