Grade A, Choice Picks: Top Christmas Songs

I should add a big huge fat note that these are MY favorite Christmas songs and not what I consider to be the greatest of all time.  Also, you are going to notice from my list that I have a very specific type of Christmas music that I prefer: female Jazz vocalists.  What can I say?  I know what I like.

beatles-paul-hol6343559410. “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” – Paul McCartney: Back in my hometown, there is a radio that played Christmas music beginning earlier and earlier each year (i’m sure a lot of you can relate).  This was my main discovery from that radio station.  This is partly a nostalgic pick because a friend on my high school carpool and I would get really excited when it came on. Probably because it is one of a kind and wasn’t Michael Bolton singing some song that has been recorded a million times.  They played a lot of that kind of stuff.

9.  “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Julie London: This one has been recorded a few times but I dare you to find one that is, well, sexier.  This recording and her voice really makes you believe that she has got some love to keep her warm, if you know what I’m sayin’.

8.  “The Christmas Waltz” – Nancy Wilson: It should be noted that when I was about 13, my dad got these Christmas CDs called Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails and I became obsessed.  Most of the songs on this list come from those CDs and I am ever grateful to them for discoveries like Ms. Nancy Wilson.  This is a great, not overly played Christmas song and my favorite version of it.

music-never-CLICK7.  “Little Saint Nick” – The Beach Boys: I had the Beach Boys Christmas album on a cassette tape when I was about 7, so you can just imagine little Ellen bumping this on her Boombox.  Yeah, this one is definitely a nostalgic pick.

6. “Sleigh Ride” – Ella Fitzgerald:  Remember what I said about my preference for jazzy female vocalists?  Well, it doesn’t get much better than Ella.  She just makes every Christmas song… cooler.  I highly recommend her Christmas album.  I mean, it’s called Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.  What’s not to like?

Meet Me in St_ Louis MO JG5.  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Judy Garland: This one falls under the “Classic Christmas” category, and of course, the original Judy Garland version from Meet Me in St. Louis is the best.

4. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” – Nancy Wilson: Now, you may argue with me that this is not a real Christmas song because it is about New Year’s Eve, right?  Wrong.  The whole premise of the song is the singer is asking early to get a leg up on the competition.  While the recent Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt video is pretty good because I am sucker for some ukulele, Nancy Wilson’s version still reigns supreme in my book.

Mariah+Carey+All+I+Want3.  “All I Want For Christmas” – Mariah Carey:  The newest song on the list and the only Christmas recording from the past 20 years that should be on this list.  This song is fabulous, everyone knows it.  It is only bettered by the fact that it is featured so prominently in one of my favorite movies of all time, Love Actually.

2. “The Man with the Bag” – Kay Starr: I love this song!  Another one that I probably like more because it is not played non-stop throughout the course of the Christmas season, but also it is fun, jazzy and has a great vocal.  Favorite line has to be “Everybody’s waitn’, they’re all congregatin'”

nat1. “The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole:  This one had to be number one.  I know that it is number one on a lot of these lists, but it is for good reason.  There are few songs that make you really feel like it is Christmas, but this one always delivers.  I can’t help but get that warm, happy feeling and be transported to a some big cozy chair in front of a glowing Christmas tree and warm fireplace.  Can you?

 

What do you think? Do you disagree with my list?  Guess what? I don’t care if you do.  But let me know some of your favorites regardless.  If you didn’t already see them, check out my favorite Christmas movies, TV episodes, and specials.

Ellen

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Grade A, Choice Picks: Top Christmas Movies

Merry Christmas,  Fangirly readers! Or Happy Holidays to any varying denominational readers! I can’t think of a better way to geti n the holiday spirit than to continue my holiday series and detail my favorite Christmas movies for you. So let’s get into the countdown, shall we?

picture-of-tim-allen-in-the-santa-clause-large-picture10. The Santa Clause (1994) – Ah, the 90s. Where Tim Allen was king and Judge Reinhold had a little more going for him other than Mock Trial with J. Reinhold. This one was definitely a childhood fav, but I had to relegate it to the tenth place because I was too young to understand the double meaning of the title so it will forever make me hesitate when I go to write Santa Claus’ name. Curses be upon you, Disney and your clever wordplay!

9. Miracle on 34th Street (1994) – Before you look higher on the list, no, the black and white version is not there. And before you go on iMDb, yes, this is the Dylan McDermott version with the girl from Matilda and the grandpa from Jurassic Park. I’m just going to say it. I like this one, I will not apologize for that. If you want an apology, talk to my mom who bought me the VHS of this version and not the 1947 version when I was at the tender age of 7.

family-train-station8. While You Were Sleeping (1995) – Ok, so not specifically marketed as a Christmas movie, but I still like watching during this time of year and it has all the attributes. Set during Christmas, check. Message about being around loved ones, check. Bill Pullman slipping on ice and ripping pants, check. Finding a new family in the least likely of places, check. Crazy coma hijinx, check. So not all of those are necessary to a Christmas movie, but they don’t hurt.

7. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) – Basically, I just love the Muppets. The only thing that could have possibly made this better: Muppet…wait for it…Babies. Nah, we’ll just leave it as is. And really I owe a lot to this movie. Michael Cain and Scrooge McDuck really introduced me to the concept of being a Scrooge.

home-alone-wet-bandits6. Home Alone (1990) – Oddly enough, I like this movie more with age. I cry a lot more, too. I’m sorry but you would have to be a robot to not tear up when after hours in airports and on a van with John Candy, Kevin’s mom is finally able to see her son on Christmas morning. Then, you know, there’s the whole bad-guy-booby-trap thing that is going on in the rest of the movie. Awesome.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – I know, you’re shocked. A movie that is usually number one on Christmas lists and I have it at number five. This is another one that I was introduced to later in life. It gets on the list because even if I only see the last five minutes, I will still weep openly and thoroughly.

scrooged14. Scrooged (1988) – Another one during which I cry (Wow, I have a problem). Nobody does curmedgeon-who-needs-to-change-his-ways-on-a-nationally-recognized-holiday better than Bill Murray. He has more funny lines than I have room to quote them, so just go watch the movie if you want a laugh (or a cry, look into that little boy’s eyes as he says “God bless us, everyone” and try to keep it in).

3. Elf (2003) – Easily one of my most quoted movies, and that’s 365 days out of the year, my friends. “Francisco, that’s fun to say”, “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”, “I like to whisper, too?”, “You sit on a throne of lies”, “Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad”, “You smell like beef and cheese.” I suppose I could keep going, but you get the gist and it’s really Will Ferrell’s delivery that makes the movie so funny. Bonus: This movie introduced me to Zooey Deschanel’s singing voice leading me to discover She & Him years back. Thanks, Elf!

Love Actually 22. Love Actually (2003) – Disclaimer: This movie only gets demoted to number two because it doesn’t quite ring “Christmas movie” like my number one choice does. Those of you who know me know that I love love love this movie, actually. I could go on for a whole blog post about how much I love this movie (hmmm….), but I’ll just say this: I cry every time during the airport footage at the very end, I love everyone in this movie, and I just love the accurate portrayal of …love. Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it sucks, sometimes it’s romantic, sometimes it’s with family and friends. Just delightful. Never ceases to literally warm my heart. Yes, literally.

Fröhliche Weihnachten / A Christmas Story1. A Christmas Story (1983) – In my opinion, THE seminal Christmas classic. I could quote the whole thing, but so could most of you, I’m sure. This movie is forever a part of my concept of Christmas. Some families have decking the halls or caroling, my family has A Christmas Story.

So there you have it. Now you have a better understanding of my preferences in Christmas fare. Well, you know the drill. Did I miss anything? Would you have put one movie over the other? Don’t forget to check out my favorite Christmas specials and TV episodes and stay tuned for my favorite Christmas records!

Grade A, Choice Picks: Top Christmas Episodes

Today, I give you my list of Christmas episodes.  This list is almost impossible to whittle down to just 10, so I made this a list of 15.  Also, I tried to keep the list to just one episode per show.  Some of these, I haven’t watched in a long time and some are brand new additions to the Holiday Episode list. Keep in mind that I don’t watch every show and I am very biased in my selection of the “best holiday episodes ever”, but I think you can enjoy my list regardless.

15. “The 23rd” New Girl: Season 1 – Nick really fouls things up when he tells Jess’ current boyfriend that she is not in love with him.  The real Christmas magic is when Nick wakes up the most decorated neighborhood in town, Candy Cane Lane, to turn on all of their lights to cheer her up.  Is it any wonder why these two are together now?

how.i.met.your.mother.11120514. “Symphony of Illumination” How I Met Your Mother: Season 7 – Definitely the biggest bummer episode on the list, but that is what makes this episode so great.  Robin takes the narrating reins and tells the story of when she thought she was pregnant to what turn out to be her imaginary children.  You see, Robin finds out that she cannot have children.  The true Christmas spirit comes when Ted cheers her up without knowing why she needs cheering up by setting up an elaborate Christmas light routine.

13. “Christmas Party Sex Trap” The Mindy Project: Season 2  Yes, this just aired, but hello!  Did you see Chris Messina dance to Aaliyah?  Yeah.  And if that weren’t enough, Mindy and Danny almost kiss!

Bones12. “Santa in the Slush” Bones: Season 3 – Ah, the good old days when the only person getting into the Bones-Booth mix was Caroline bribing them into kissing under the mistletoe. I love Caroline. While the whole first-kiss aspect really helps, this is also just a pretty good Christmas episode. You have the gore and mystery with a dead Santa in a sewer, you have the funny with Booth having to sniff Santas, you have the whimsy with Santa’s apartment above a toy store, and you have the touching with Booth giving Brennan her Christmas tree. Le sigh.

11. “Christmas Special” 30 Rock: Season 3 – In my book, it doesn’t get much better than Liz Lemon ruining Christmas for some kids and Jack finding out that his mom took F.A.O. Schwartz as her gentlemen lover (“Uhh that word bums me out unless it’s between the words meat and pizza”) to make Christmas for him as a kid.

Parks-Recreation-Christmas-Episode-Pictures10. “Citizen Knope” Parks and Recreation: Season 4 – It shouldn’t be surprising that the merriest show on television is good at doing a Christmas episode.  Sure enough, in true Parks and Recreation style, this episode is hilarious and sweet.  Leslie is in the midst of her suspension after it is revealed that she and Ben are dating. Leslie is obviously the best at gift giving, but the parks department wants to make up some of the difference.  When her campaign team bails after low approval numbers, they give her the best gift of all!

9. “Afternoon Delight” Arrested Development: Season 2 – Ah, Christmas. The time of year when you have parties on Bethlehem time, sing about daytime lovin’ with your niece, and let kids get their grubby little hands all over a $3000 dollar suit. Come on!

8. “The Polarizing Express” Psych: Season 5 –  It is exactly what you would want out of an It’s a Wonderful Life episode from Psych written and directed by James Roday: bizarre, hilarious, and Gus in a UPN sitcom in the 90s. This episode only further solidifies my love for Roday.

Community Christmas7. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” Community: Season 2 – This stop-motion, musical spectacular holiday special send-up had to be on the list. Um, Abed finding out that the meaning of Christmas is the first season of Lost on DVD because Christmas can mean whatever we want it to mean? Brilliant, uproarious, and kind of sweet. Also, this episode gave me my new favorite Christmas mascot. Christmas Pterodactyl!

6. “Christmas Party” The Office: Season 2 – This one made me all sorts of nostalgic for the (now fulfilled) sexual tension of Jim and Pam. It also had some other great stuff, too. Michael’s impromptu Yankee Swap to get rid of the homemade oven mitt, Creed’s equally impromptu Secret Santa gift, Angela’s babies-playing-saxes poster, and Meredith flashing Michael. “Happy birthday, Jesus. Sorry your party’s so lame.”

5. “A Very Supernatural Christmas” Supernatural: Season 3  This episode is exactly what you would expect from a Supernatural Christmas episode: it’s creepy, it’s kooky, and it has that punch of heart right at the end between the demon hunting bros.

happy4. “No-Ho-Ho” Happy Endings: Season 3 – All I want for Christmas is this show to come back.  Is that so much to ask?  The episode centers around the gang trying to give Jane the best birthday ever when they find out that her birthday is actually on Christmas, but they have a hard time keeping Christmas out.  Between Brad’s penchant for dancing with hip-hop Santa, Max’s Egg Nog addiction, and Alex’s weird present opening fetish, there is no way they can succeed.  “Happy Birthday, Jane.  And Jesus.”

The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis3. “Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” The Big Bang Theory: Season 2 – Sheldon really struggles with what to reciprocate Penny’s Christmas gift with so he buys up every gift basket in Bath and Body Works with plans to pick the present that best fits her gift to him in terms of price. And while I enjoy this whole episode, I adore the last five minutes. When Sheldon receives Penny’s … you know what, just go watch this.

2. “A Christmas Carol” Doctor Who: Eleventh Doctor – It should be noted that I somehow forgot to include at lease ONE Doctor Who special on yesterday’s list.  I’m so ashamed that I am cheating and including this special on the episode list.  Hey, it’s my list, I can do what I want.  It has gotten to they point now where my Christmases are not complete without my Doctor Who specials and this one is my favorite.  A twist on the Dickens classic may be a bit over done, but the Whovian element makes this just right.

mst3k-patrick-swayze-christmas1. “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season 3 – In answer to your question, yes, this movie is as ridiculous as it sounds. In fact, probably more so. But that is what makes Joel and the bots making fun of it so great. Then you couple their commentary with their performance of “A Patrick Swayze Christmas”, a seminal Christmas carol classic, and you get pure holiday magic.
Phew! That’s a lot of linking for your viewing pleasure, there you have it! Do you have any shows you like with great Christmas episodes that I should check out? Do you disagree with my order? Not that I am going to change my mind, but I would love to at least pretend to listen to your feedback. Check out my favorite Christmas specials and stay tuned for my favorite holiday movies and holiday records!

Ellen

Grade A, Choice Picks: Top Christmas TV Specials

“Christmas! I looooove Christmas!” And as you may be able to tell from the content of this site, I love movies and TV. Combine that with my love for this time of year and you come to the conclusion that I love Christmas entertainment. While every family has their traditions, one of my family’s favorite traditions has always been to watch our favorite Christmas programming in the days leading up to the 25th. In this first of four part Christmas-themed blog post series, I am going to countdown my top 10 favorite Christmas TV specials.

10. Frosty the Snowman – I chose this one partly because it’s a classic and partly because I love how doofy Frosty is. Although I suppose a day-old snowman can only be expected to have so much intelligence. I still love his “Happy Birthday!” And is it just me or is there some liberal propaganda in this children’s special? Death by greenhouse effect?

10975209. Any ABC Family Christmas Movie – I admit that I am cheating a bit here because this more than one submission and they are movies, but just work with me here.  Netflix is rife with these holiday delights.  My personal favorite is 12 Dates of Christmas.  It’s about what you would expect but better.

8. Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale – Apparently, Ricky Gervais likes to end his shows with epic Christmas specials, which made it very difficult for me to NOT put both of them on this list. First of all, if you have not seen this show and like your celebrity cameos with some bite (Kate Winslet giving advice on how to talk dirty, Orlando Bloom refusing to believe he is less attractive than Johnny Depp, and Daniel Radcliffe trying to seduce every woman he meets to name a few), then I recommend this show. The Christmas special is perfect holiday fare as the main character, Andy, struggles to maintain his dignity and relationships with the onslaught of fame. The ending is a perfect blend of touching and funny with just the right amount of things left unsaid.

7. A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! – Colbert trapped in bear country! The horrors! This one gets a spot on the list solely for John Legend’s “Nutmeg” slow- jam and Colbert’s “Operation Humble Kanye” campaign to get the special’s soundtrack higher on the iTunes charts than the self-proclaimed “voice of this generation of this decade”. Pay close attention to the following over-exaggerated eye roll. Oh brother.

6. A Disney Christmas Gift – I actually haven’t watched this one since my family made the move from VHS to DVD because it got lost in the transition, but I have always been a sucker for nostalgia. I will always loved Chip n’ Dale messing with Pluto while decking the halls and Huey, Duey, and Luey making snowball war.

rudolph-hermie-blog15. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Classic Christmas, but still awesome. I mean, you have an elf who wants to be a dentist, a Charlie-in-the-box, and Yukon Cornelius. There’s nowhere to go wrong. Also, one of the most quoted lines in the my house anytime of year: “She thinks I’m cute!”

4. The Office (UK) Christmas Specials – I’m sorry but I had to. If you know me at all and if you know what happens in the last ten minutes, then you know why.  Perfect way to cap off the series.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – I’ll have the Roast Beast and Who-hash platter, but hold the Jim Carrey. Blegh. That’s just wrong.

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas – File this one under “A-duh!” This is pure Christmas perfection with the best dance sequence ever. I could list all of my favorite bits, but how about you just take the 30 minutes to watch it yourself. Added Christmas bonus message: If you are patient enough with kids who are really crappy to you, they’ll magically decorate your twig to become a Christmas tree.

pee-wee-christmas-special_l1. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special – This one gets billing over Charlie Brown mainly because I once saw it on a list of the worst Christmas specials. I know you are but what am I? Say what you will about Pee-Wee’s “extra-curricular activities” outside the playhouse, but I laugh harder at this every year. Get into the Christmas spirit as Magic Screen reunites with his cousin Magic Johnson, as Chairy meets Cher, and as Pee-Wee comes up with a solution to his fruitcake problem.  This is exactly what you would expect from a Christmas special coming from the Playhouse, making it perfection.

Did I miss your favorite? Stay tuned for my top 10 favorite holiday episodes, holiday movies, and holiday songs!

Ellen

(I admittedly took this from an old post on my old blog.  Don’t judge.)