The Top 20 Christmas Renditions!

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It’s the Christmas season and we are officially assaulted with Christmas music in stores and even some radio stations are playing holiday tunes 24-7. I enjoy Christmas music, but it can get tiresome really quickly especially when a lot of artists’ renditions sound exactly the same.  It’s nice to hear someone try to do something a little different so when I do find an artist that does something outside of the box with a Christmas classic, I jump all over it.  You can check out the list of the top 20 original Christmas songs here, but here’s 20 Christmas renditions that you might not have heard that put a twist on a holiday tune:

20.  Pretty much no one takes on “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, and with good reason. It doesn’t really require a ton of singing, but it needs more personality and humour.  Well, Cee Lo Green is just the kind of singer to do that. With Straight No Chaser helping out, Cee Lo is a ton of fun singing this playful track:

19. Hailing from Australia, Rebecca St. James transforms the solemn “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” into an upbeat, pop/rock song. Bet you never thought you’d bop your head to this hymn:

18. It’s hard to bring any originality to “Auld Lang Syne”, but sometimes simplicity is the most original thing you can do. Pretty much every hot indie act is on this track to make up the choir who creates a rendition that sounds straight out of the 1940s. Listen to Sara Bareilles, Jim Bianco, Cary Brothers, Buddy, Holly Conlan, Marie Digby, Katie Herzig, Jesca Hoop, Laura Jansen, Tim Jones, Greg Laswell, Lenka, Anya Marina, Jonah Matranga, Ingrid Michaelson, Meiko, Joshua Radin, and Butch Walker sing the classic New Years’ Eve track:

17. Not a lot of people try out “The First Noel”, and there’s no point in trying after Josh Groban and Faith Hill did it for Groban’s Christmas album.  You wouldn’t necessarily think Groban’s voice that leans towards opera and Faith’s country twang would work together, but you’re proven well with their beautiful combination:

16.  For some reason, I hate “The Christmas Song”. The chestnuts roasting on an open fire does nothing for me. I think it’s because so many artists cover the song and no one brings much spark to it.  It’s always so sleep. Well, leave it to Sheryl Crow to bring some great rock style to the played out track. Off her terrific Home For Christmas album, Crow doesn’t really change the arrangement of the track but just brings it a lot of energy and edginess to it:

15. “Run Run Rudolph” is a song I’ve never dug despite multiple artists trying it out. Well, Kelly Clarkson made me a fun of it.  It would make sense that those pipes that are so used to pop/rock anthems would soar on this.  She makes this song pretty freakin awesome.

14.  One of the most upbeat Christmas tracks around is “Sleigh Ride”, and artists like Dolly Parton and KT Tunstall have done a great job at bringing a personal style to them, but my favourite is Harry Connick Jr.‘s rendition off of his 1992 When My Heart Finds Christmas album. Harry brings his signature jazz style to the driving tune:

13. Pretty much everyone does “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” as a ballad, but not Holly Conlan.  Betcha you’ve never heard jarring horns on the old standard before.  The California-based singer/songwriter brings her quirky style to the Christmas classic:

12.“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” requires a TON of chemistry between the female and male voice, and I bet you wouldn’t believe that Lee Ann Womack and Harry Connick Jr. did it the best. Well, just listen and tell me I’m wrong.

11. “Santa Baby” is a song for a female singer seductively talking to Santa.  Well, that didn’t stop Michael Buble. With a few lyric changes like “Santa Buddy” and asking for a Rolex, Buble has never been as charming as he is here:

10. After hearing Human Nature‘s version, I can’t stand to hear “Last Christmas” any other way. The original version by WHAM, released in 1984, is about as corny of a Christmas song as you can get (but that’s the 80s for ya), but Human Nature’s a capella version is beautiful:

9. Probably the most radical rendition on the list is this version of “Angels We Have Heard On High” by Christina Aguilera and The LaMass Choir and The Celebrity Voices Choir. Other than the lyrics, there’s very few links to the original arrangement of this track. Aguilera transforms it into a fast-moving gospel track with the powerful choirs:

8. Babyface (whatever happened to…) brings a whole new R&B arrangement to “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Who knew this track could have such a great groove, especially when it hits the “Hey Rudolph, guide my sleigh”:

7. Canada’s own Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan joined forces to bring an upbeat style to the classic “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and even add in some “We Three Kings”.  Recorded in 2000, the track has gotten lots of airplay as the chanteuse’s vocals blend beautifully with the male quintet:

6. I love when a song slowly builds and this is a perfect example of that. Natalie Merchant‘s “Children Go Where I Send There” starts with very little accompaniment but slowly builds both vocally and instrumentally.  Love the arrangement of this typically solemn Christmas hymn:

5.  “Little Drummer Boy” has ended up being a standard that artists are really able to do some creative stuff with, including great versions by Harry Connick Jr. and Josh Groban, but Faith Hill went a cappella and it’s stunning. The high notes in the last verse are pretty incredible:

4. Who would dare try to change up “Silent Night”? Pretty much no one. It’s a pretty song, but artists rarely try to put any kind of spin on it. The Christian band MercyMe were crazy enough to even make it upbeat. It’s a fun countryfied version of the Christmas hymn that’s solid for the first verse…but once Amy Grant comes in to provide harmony in the 2nd verse, it really hits its stride:

3. Not many artists tackle “Deck The Halls”. I guess all those “Fa la la la la”s scare people off, but not SHeDAISY. Who the heck is SHeDAISY? In the late 90s, the country trio had a couple hit country songs, and while Dixie Chicks became one of the biggest and most-talked about bands in the world, SHeDAISY just faded away. Ah well. At least they left us with a killer version of “Deck The Halls”:

2. Ever wondered what “Jingle Bells” would sound like on speed? Well, wonder no more. Barbra Streisand did this arrangement in the 1970s, but it’s Amy Grant who really nailed it a couple years ago for A Christmas Collection.  Grant sings the track at such a feverish pace that she can barely keep up with the music. You’re exhausted for her at the end of the 2-minute track, but it sure is fun to listen to:

1. Vanessa Williams? Seriously? In the #1 track? Yes, seriously. Back before her stint on Ugly Betty and then showing up on Wisteria Lane, the actress was a pop star with her biggest hit being “Save The Best For Last” (you know, you love it). Williams also recorded a couple Christmas albums, and she manages to take the top spot with 2 (I couldn’t choose just 1) awesome renditions of the classic “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “Mary Had A Baby/Go Tell It On The Mountain”. Both tracks start with the traditional arrangements of the songs, but then slowly evolve into a full-blown party with a big-ass choir. Listen to “Do You Hear What I Hear” then watch Williams & Co. perform “Mary Had A Baby/Go Tell It On The Mountain” from a 1993 Christmas special:


 


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