wonders never cease
Thursday, December 3, 2009
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2nd, 2009 play list of the week: songs for december (no holidays allowed)
[caption id="attachment_2202" align="alignleft" width="415" caption="click to listen"]Poor, poor December. A full 31 days, yet we typically only focus on the first 25. It's all about the holidays as we wind down the year, and it seems that December, without all those jingle bells, can't get no respect (bah-dum-dum). So this week we have twelve songs for the twelfth month, free of holiday cheer, obese men who slide down chimneys, anthropomorphized snow statues, and flying caribou.
1. "Love in December" - Club 8
This Swedish duo (Karolina Komstedt and Johan AngergГҐrd) formed Club 8 way back in 1995. "Love in December" was released 7 years later after the two locked themselves in a sound studio to experiment musically (trip hop, bossa nova, dub). This hermitage eventually led to the album Spring Came, Rain Fell, on which "Love in December" appeared. Surely too melancholy to be associated with mistletoe and sleigh bells...
"December" used contemplatively: "So this is love/In the end of December/Quiet nights/Quiet stars."
2. вЂњDecemberвЂќ вЂ“ Milburn
A rousing number from a little rock band out of Sheffield, England. The lads of Milburn only played from 2002 to 2008, during which time they produced two albums and drummed up quite a following. вЂњDecemberвЂќ is a bonus track from their debut album, Well well well, and its subject is decidedly NOT appropriate for the holidays.
"December" used threateningly: "I'm sorry to tell ya/The spies have all seen ya/Yeah they got your number/That night in December."
3. "December 4th" - Jay-Z
A somewhat autobiographical song that alternates innocent childhood memories with verses of street-wise flow. Happy birthday (on Friday), Sean Carter!
"December" used nascent-ly: "Sean Carter was born December 4th.../The only one who didn't give me any pain when I gave birth to him/And that's how I knew he was a special child."
4. "My December" - Linkin Park
A low-key, but insistent, ballad from nu-metal pioneers (and Jay-Z collaborators!) Linkin Park, whose sound we would never dream of accompanying our sugar-plum dreams.
"December" used possessively: "This is my December/This is my time of the year/This is my December/This is all so clear."
5. "A Long December" - Counting Crows
Another doleful song, yes, but with a hint of hope. Adam Duritz and company can all too often slide one tick lower than sorrow, dragging any slightly depressed listener further into misery (so NOT holly-jolly). At least their ode to the last month of the year makes us look forward to something new in January.
"December" used hopefully: "A long December and there's reason to believe/Maybe this year will be better than the last."
6. "December Love Song" - Gackt
A mood-lightener, if only for the accent and the earnestness with which it's performed. Just have a listen.
"December" used only in the title: "December Love Song." But listen to the track. Seriously.
7. "Oh What a Night (December 1963)" - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
A simple tune about obsession-at-first-sight, saved from its repetitive creepiness by Valli's cheery falsetto.
"December" used as a memory's time-stamp: "Oh, what a night./Late December back in '63./What a very special time for me,/'Cause I remember what a night."
8. "May December" - Mos Def
Instrumental stylings from one of hip hop's coolest denizens.
"December" used only in the title (part II).
9. "December" - Kent
Kent has reached relative fame in their home country of Sweden, but they continue to toil in anonymity here in the States. (Another Swedish group, you say? Whatever. They know from snow, people.) "December" is mostly Swedish, but Kent kindly gives us month names in English.
"December" used we-don't-really-know-how-because-we-don't-speak-Swedish: "December,/har du nГҐra hjГ¤ltar kvar/dГҐ Г¤r du en sГ¤llsynt art/den sista i sitt slag."
10. "December" - Collective Soul
Remember this? Angsty rock from 1995 is definitely not for the holidays. (Neither is Collective Soul, really.)
"December" used in a '90s pseudo-grunge way: "December promise you gave unto me/December whispers of treachery/December clouds are now covering me/December songs no longer I sing."
11. "Once Upon a December" - from Anastasia
Leave it to Disney to romanticize the Russian revolution. In this animated adventure, Anastasia, youngest daughter of the Romanov dynasty, hits her head and loses her memory while escaping from the evil Rasputin (who has cast a curse on her family that essentially sparks the revolution). Hijinks ensue. Bla bla bla. Happy ending.
"December" used to spark familial memory, in spite of amnesia: "Far away, long ago/things I yern to remember,/and a song someone sings/once upon a December."
12. "Flowers in December" - Mazzy Star
Nothing like the soul-crushing melancholy of Mazzy Star to close out a non-holiday December play list. Merry Christmas, folks.
"December" used as metaphor: "Send me your flowers of your December,/Send me your dreams of your candied wine./I've got just one thing I can't give you.../Just one more thing of mine."