Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 favorite Christmas cover songs

Classic Christmas songs have been covered and reinterpreted hundreds of times over. With Christmas mere days away, here are 12 of my favorite covers of iconic Christmas songs.

"Baby, Its Cold Outside" - Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone
Recorded for the "Elf" soundtrack, singer/actress Zooey Deschanel was joined by the mysterious jazz/blues singer Leon Redbone. Deschanel later recorded an equally charming gender-reversed version of the song for her duo She and Him.

"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)" - Hootie and the Blowfish
A straightforward, but highly effective cover that benefits from leader singers Darius Rucker's soulful and soothing vocals.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
Quirky Canadian rockers play it straight creating lovely harmonies that are beautifully complemented by fellow Canadian McLachlan's powerful voice.

"Jingle Bells" - Brian Setzer Orchestra
Setzer reinterprets "Jingle Bells" with his familiar swinging rockabilly stamp. It is a hoot to hear him change the "one horse open sleigh" to a "57 Chevrolet."

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Coldplay
A sparse take on the song that with nothing more than piano and singer Chris Martin manages to capture the pensive, nostalgic nature of the song.

"Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" - Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Perhaps the most iconic cover of "Little Drummer Boy." Recorded for a Christmas special in 1977, mere months before Crosby died, Bowie didn't want to sing "Little Drummer Boy," so a new part, "Peace on Earth," was written specifically for him. The track remains one of the great collaborations for Christmas or otherwise.

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - Rubber Band
The Rubber Band took Christmas songs and mashed them up with Beatles song. In this case "Rockin' Around the Christmas" has been seamlessly blended with "I Saw Her Standing There."

"Rudolph the Reindeer" - Jack Johnson
Johnson refuses the familiar song with his unique brand of chill acoustic rock. His delivery is fun and his reworking of the lyrics are unexpected and amusing.

"Sleigh Ride" - KT Tunstall
Scottish songstress lends her voice to a buoyant, uptempo reworking of "Sleigh Ride." It is drenched in pop sheen, but undeniably infectious. Tunstall also has a wonderful live version.

"12 Days of Christmas" - John Denver and The Muppets
In 1979 Denver recorded a Christmas album with The Muppets. One of the better tracks had a different muppet taking on one of the 12 days of Christmas. Is it any surprise that Miss Piggy sings "five gold rings?"

"White Christmas" - Otis Redding
Soul singer Redding seemingly combines "White Christmas" with his own "Try a Little Tenderness" to create a fresh take on the Irving Berlin classic.

"Winter Wonderland" - Phantom Planet
Phantom Planet is best known for the song "California," but they did an equally wonderful tribute to cooler landscapes. It starts out with simple acoustic and builds to a nice pop-rock feel.

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