Sunday, December 12, 2010

Festive and Depress-tive

Picture is awesome, but unrelated

Everyone has their favourite Christmas song. Normally these Christmas songs are classed as "guilty pleasures" (let's not get into how that's a nonsense term) because it is the general rule that the Christmas single is reserved only for silly, opportunistic novelty bands- and while it would be difficult to argue that the majority of recent Christmas songs boil down to simple marketing ploys, there are some recent offerings that have, to me, become yuletide classics.

The first- and possibly best- of these festive tunes comes from Frightened Rabbit. Some may find it odd for a band so normally buried in songs of everyday troubles, strife and heartbreak to come out with a song celebrating this, the yearly time of coming together and loving your fellow man.
Well... In a WAY they have? "It's Christmas So We'll Stop" is essentially about celebrating Christmas by not being as terrible, depressed and cruel as you are the rest of the year, certainly the saddest way of describing a seasonal get together.
However, as this is Frightened Rabbit, they handle bitterness and resentment in the most achingly beautiful way. When singer, Scott Hutchinson, yearningly asks to "let the rot stop for today, let the rot stop just for one day" you get the impression that, as sad as it may be, that really is the best Christmas present he could receive. I would kill to hear this song live.

Frightened Rabbit- It's Christmas So We'll Stop

The next, is a song that has achieved legendary status in the world of novelty Christmas hits: Last Christmas. Now as much as I embrace pop music, the original Wham version has- I think it's safe to say- aged terribly since its release (and Cascada's recent, horrific, screechy murdering of the song hasn't done much to resurrect it) and with all the song's perceived cheesiness, it's easy to forget that it is, underneath it all, a heartbreak song.
Dumped over the holidays? Being blanked by an ex? Seeing said ex with someone else? Georgie M is dealing with some depressing stuff in this song.
That's why the song needed someone like iLikeTrains to come along. The Leeds-based post rock adventurers have managed to rein in both their penchant for towering soundscapes and the song's tendency to spin into ironic-cover-version territory and deliver it how it should be. Quiet, resigned and teary-eyed. Maybe not one to get you rocking around the Christmas tree, but a truly heroic take on a yuletide classic that has fallen on hard times.

iLikeTrains- Last Christmas

No doubt I shall think of more modern Christmas classics in the run up to December 25th, and promptly post them, but I thought these two suited each other well (ie. They're both down-in-the-mouth songs about loneliness at Christmastime) so would make a nice little co-blog.