The multicultural Christmas playlist, mostly “Jingle Bells”

It started as a collection of eccentric and peculiar (even deranged) recordings of “Jingle Bells”, from EDZ’s iTunes, but it’s branched out some. “Jingle Bells” is, of course, a winter song — not even a holiday song, much less a specifically Christmas song, though it’s become associated so strongly with the holiday that it appears on many albums of Christmas songs – and at least one Hindi version that Elizabeth has suggests that for some Hindi speakers anyway it’s become a Christmas song (the singers shout out “Christmas! Christmas” every so often during the song). Odd things happen in cultural diffusion.

(An issue in translating “Jingle Bells” is getting the jingly sound down. The jingle part in English is fine, but the bells part is a disappointment phonetically. The Latin version I was taught in the 9th grade used tinnitus, which is excellent: “Tinnitus, tinnitus, semper tinnitus”.)

(But wait! There’s a holiday news flash: I somehow missed it last year, but a great vocal stylist was finally united with one of the great Christmas songs – you can tell it’s a great Christmas song because it’s actually called “The Christmas Song” (aka “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”) – in November 2011, when Justin Bieber released his first Christmas album (and only his second studio album), Under the Mistletoe. Audio here:

Track list: “Only Thing I Ever Get for Christmas”, “Mistletoe”, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” (featuring Usher), “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, “Fa La La” (featuring Boyz II Men), “All I Want for Christmas Is You (SuperFestive!)” (duet with Mariah Carey), “Drummer Boy” (featuring Busta Rhymes), “Christmas Eve”, “Home This Christmas” (featuring The Band Perry), “Silent Night”. Deluxe edition bonus tracks: “Christmas Love”, “Fa La La” (A Capella) (featuring Boyz II Men), “Pray”, “Someday at Christmas”)

In the list that follows, the links are sometimes to different recordings of songs than the ones in EDZ’s iTunes, where she has a lot of things that originally came from CDs. Remarks are hers unless they’re in square brackets and marked “AZ”, in which case they come from someone out in the Arizona desert.

The main list.

Joy to The World, from the album Christmas Bells by Organ Chimes/Bells of Berkshire (link): This is just a starter, traditionally Christmassy.

Jingle Bell (Korean version) by various artists (link): Handily, this starts with the tune from Joy to the World.

Rozhdestveni kambani, from the album Angel’s Christmas by Petar Liondev/Bulgarian Voices – Angelite (link): Not Jingle bells, but a Bulgarian Christmas hymn with bells.

Jingle Bells from Chinese Christmas Songs (link): There are two. I used my favorite, which is the longer. This is one of Opal’s favorites. The only available Chinese coworker on Friday liked it.

Santa Gey Gezunderheit from the album Oy to the World by the Klezmonauts (link): An original English/Yiddish Christmas song.

Jingle Bell (Bollywood Style) from the album Jolly Bolly Christmas by Preet Nihai and Chorus (link): I note that this is not the only bollywood Jingle Bells on Amazon. I like this one better than the other one, which in any case is not in Hindi.

A Christmas Carol from the album Song and More Songs by Tom Lehrer (link): Look, one cannot survive a continuous diet of Jingle Bells, or sweetness.

Titled in katakana, which transliterates to Jinguruberu, from the album SWEETS HOUSE ~Best Xmas Songs~ by Naomile (link): In case you don’t read katakana, it’s the first cut. It’s very cute. Opal hates it a lot.

Christmas on the Station by Slim Dusty, from the album A Piece of Australia (link): To remember our friends in the southern hemisphere.

Jingle Bells, by the Klezmonauts, from the album Oy to the World (link): Opal votes this one as the most deranged Jingle Bells I own. Then again, I don’t think she’s heard the Korean one.

Christmas by RIE (link): It’s a single. Original Japanese Christmas tune.

Jingle Bells by Micro X-mas from the album Christmas Clubbing (link): This is on Amazon as Christmas Clubbing 2012, but it’s the same album I have as Clubbing Christmas 2012. Opal says this is almost the most deranged version. There is no cultural justification for this.

St. Stephen’s Day Murders by The Chieftains and Elvis Costello from the album The Bells of Dublin (link): Finishing up with the day after Christmas [AZ: The album is really great.]

A subsidiary list. This is not the full Jingle Bells list, which also includes:

the Roches (Opal despises it, I don’t know why)

Ottmar Liebert (Opal disapproves of it, because she regards the instrumentation as tropical and therefore inappropriate for a song about snow)

a Music Box Christmas

another Chinese version

and a bluegrass version by the Clarke Family and Billy Oskay from the uneven but value-priced and often excellent “Christmas Pickins, A Banjo Christmas” (link)

And then a search. And then I actually went looking for more. Skipping the obvious, the dull, and the dogs (oh, so many dogs):

There is  a James Taylor Jingle Bells, which is almost as slow as the Klezmer version (link)

Also, Opal only thinks those other versions are deranged because she has never heard Bela Fleck’s (link)

And then a site (link) offers a Jingle Bells with strange micro key changes, and also offers a trance remix of Ave Maria. It does have an even wider view of Christmas music than Christmas Clubbing. Für Elise? It’s not even religious!

And a site (link) that has a fine Jingle Bells, but its We Three Kings is spectacular.

This is not a Jingle Bells I’ll play for Opal because a) she wouldn’t like it at all, and b) oh, they are so not kidding when they say “Explicit” (link)

This is how Jingle Bells on a banjo is *really* done (link)

Also, in Spanish, here

Fats Domino (link)

Hypnotically bad skating rink organ (link)

I don’t even know what genre this is, but it’s very up-to-date (link)

And, to wind things up, Les Paul proving that more can be too much when it comes to special effects (link)

One Response to “The multicultural Christmas playlist, mostly “Jingle Bells””

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Nick Fitch on Facebook:

    Let’s not forget this splendidly warped Indian version of “Jingle Bells” from Nickelodeon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfJ6oCdjY9Y or this equally super Gujarati one apparently animated by the same person: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uR9JAZdAfA

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