Pod Picks for Dec. 20, 2012

December 20, 2012 

This week we get you ready for Christmas with some new twists on Yuletide classics which you can download (legally, of course) or stream to your iPod, iPad, iPhone or other personal media device.

“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch " by Cee Lo Green, feat. Straight No Chaser

This is a pretty dynamic song to be done without any instruments – it’s just Cee Lo and the a cappella group, Straight No Chaser. Cee Lo’s voice slides nicely into the role of describing the nastiness of the Grinch, although nothing can ever match Thurl Ravenscroft’s version of Dr. Seuss’ lyrics from the 1966 Christmas Special, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” But it’s better than Jim Carrey’s rap version with Flipmode Squad. This is from the new Christmas album, “Cee Lo’s Magic Moment.”

"Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by The Polyphonic Spree

OK, we’re a sucker for a glockenspiel, put a glockenspiel in a Christmas song written by John Lennon and you have a triple-crown winner. Everyone knows this song and The Polyphonic Spree treat it like the holy grail of holiday hymns because surprisingly, they don’t change much. The horns and strings dance around on a constant drum-roll but the chorus is right out front, and Spree’s leader, Tim DeLaughter, channels the empathy of Lennon. Originally, a song sung in protest of the Vietnam War, it translates it’s beautiful simplicity, just as well today.

"Baby, It’s Cold Outside" by Rufus Wainwright & Sharon Van Etten

One of the many great tracks off of the new album, “Holidays Rule,” a collection of holiday songs from current alternative artists. This brings back the torch song version of this ditty. With Wainwright’s deep voice and the loose tone of his piano, you can close your eyes and envision his scotch and ice sitting, sweating and leaving a ring on the baby grand. The dissonance usually associated with Sharon Van Etten’s voice is gone here and there’s a pure connection with Wainwright, even when they sing over one another. There are many great versions of this song. Add this one to the list.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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