I thought I’d try to do, like, winter songs or seasonal songs or something, since it is the holiday season (and also winter, here, how about that) but my holiday music listening is, um, zero, these days. But! I actually did come up with two marginally wintery songs, plus one song that always reminds me of Christmas but actually isn’t wintery or seasonal in any way. So. Onward!
Lights- M25 version, by Grasscut
I listen to RadioBDC, which is a digital streaming radio out of Boston, and it’s amazing in pretty much every way, and that’s where I first heard this song. They were doing, several years ago, holiday music on Christmas Eve. I put the headphones on and heard the first holiday song and I was like NO WAY. But actually… they played a ton of really amazing stuff. Stuff I’ve never ever heard, stuff that was merely wintery or somebody’s idea of something that could almost be holiday-like. And Lights was one of those songs.
Lights could also easily be known as the Most Repetitive Song Ever. Except maybe The Song That Never Ends. I digress! So this is basically a techno song, with some strings—a lot of strings—and a handful of lyrics, words, really, repeated over and over… and over and over… and over. I played this once for someone and she was like, “Make it stop!” And I can see how it could be quite annoying for someone. But I actually really like it a lot. I think, if you think of the vocal bits as more a form of instrumentation, like a riff, then they become more melodic and less lyric-y.
There are some really excellent dynamics here, and the drumming is catchy and actually provides a lot of the hook in the song. It’s just really well-constructed, energetic, exciting, and oddly emotional. There’s a lot to read into here. It’s basically an instrumental, so it can be anything you want. And it’s lovely.
Children of December
I heard Children of December on the same RadioBDC holiday show, and I think I’ve listened to it about a million times since then. I love it to pieces. It’s just so good, in all the ways.
It’s kind of a simple song. There’s nothing magic about any of the instruments or the vocals—they’re all just simply, strongly, good. It’s all tight and it sounds great and there are great slower parts that even out the energy of the rest of the song. (There is a really nice drumming section at the end. Very, very nice.) The lyrics are kind of magical—they’re a bit all over the place. At first it seems like the verse and the choruses, and the breaks, don’t really go together at all, but they do tie in. And the way the lyrics are constructed, um… how tightly all the words and syllables fit together (is there a technical term for this? Like a poetry term?) is perfect. They sound perfect, they roll off the tongue, they’re quick and they have their own fantastic rhythm.
There’s something about this song that just makes me feel good and sort of refreshed after I hear it. The lyrics are almost kind of a bummer at first—it’s about how the kids born in December don’t get their birthdays celebrated as much—but I think the song is actually a happy one and, conversely, it has a summery feel. I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain why I like this song so much. I just do.
Black & Blue by Miike Snow
This isn’t a holiday or winter song in any way, shape or form, but it reminds me of winter anyway. I was on a winter trip to visit family, in the car with my mom and my brother, and in charge of music, and I put this on. And it’s like… weird pop techno and I figured my music taste was about to be made fun of, but after a minute of dead silence (except the song playing, of course,) my brother goes, “I like it,” and I don’t know if he actually did or not but it made my day. So this is a song that reminds me of that.
I love Miike Snow. They’re fantastic. They make really quality, really catchy, really awesome pop-techno-rock-I don’t know what genre-music. I also have a lot of respect for them as a band because when I saw them play live once, the lead singer (who is not named Mike) was terribly sick, but he came out, he played the show, they were amazing, and I can’t imagine how difficult that was.
Anyway, I like Black & Blue in particular because it’s… slightly dark, almost subdued, as far as Miike Snow ever gets, although it’s still very upbeat. It has this really intriguing piano sound that’s almost echo-y and rough, if a piano can be that, and it contrasts really nicely with the other keyboard sounds going on. And then it bursts into this really quick chorus, and the lyrics are cool and intriguing, and the vocals are just lovely.