December 2016


220px-acloveAlice Cooper – “I’m Eighteen” – (1971)

This was Alice Cooper’s first top 40 hit – having been released as a single in the fall of 1970 ahead of the release of their third album, Love it to Death. Most of Alice Cooper’s early work seems like they were all written by someone in high school, including this temper-tantrum of a song about barely being an adult.

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220px-bella_donna_albumStevie Nicks – “Edge of Seventeen” – (1981)

When an artist goes solo and has a huge hit I always wonder if their solo hit would’ve worked if it came from the band. In this case, I don’t think this would’ve made a great Fleetwood Mac song. This was her first true solo single (there were two before it but both were duets). The guitar riff was later used by Destiny’s Child on “Bootylicious.” “Edge of Seventeen” has to be Stevie Nicks’ signature solo tune, even if it (barely) failed to crack the top ten on the Hot 100.

220px-the_house_that_dirt_builtThe Heavy – “Sixteen” – (2009)

The Heavy is a British indie rock band that had one smash hit, but this follow up single didn’t get as much love. But it should – it has a very old feel and fit in really well with other songs that came out about this time (see: horns). It’s worth a listen.

220px-a-fresh-aire-christmas-coverMannheim Steamroller – “Cantique de Noel (O Holy Night)” – (1988)

“O Holy Night” was composed in 1847 in France as music to match a poem. It was all written to be performed in a church, making it one of what seems like only a handful of Christmas carols that are actually allowed to be played in church (sorry, Mariah Carey). Even if this version is a little new-agey, it still gets the point across and is instantly recognizable.

r-3519121-1412977518-7113-jpegGene Autry – “Frosty the Snowman” – (1950)

He didn’t write it, but Gene Autry was the first to record it and made it famous. It was a top ten hit around Christmas of 1950 and would later be made into an animated TV program (though Jimmy Durante sang this song there). If you like the idea of a mid-century Christmas like I do, then this is a must-have song.

bingBing Crosby – “Silent Night, Holy Night” – (1935)

I think Bing Crosby recorded this like every few years, because there are a number of different versions out there, with this being the earliest (but not necessarily the best). When it comes to Christmas standards, Bingle is hard to beat.

220px-mrhankeyschrismasclassicscoverTrey Parker – “Merry Fucking Christmas” – (1999)

Probably one of the most offensive Christmas songs of all time, but then again it is from an album called “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.” I’ll admit, I don’t watch South Park and haven’t seen an episode in a long time, but I have seen the Mr. Hankey episode. You might not like it, but this song is actually very funny.

Steve Martin – “A Holiday Wish” – (1986)

This was an SNL sketch back in the 1980s where Steve Martin just sits in front of the camera telling us his five Christmas wishes. And it’s hilarious. It works as just audio too, because you can see his mannerisms just by hearing his voice. The wishes start sweet, but quickly descend into madness. Classic Steve Martin.

500x500Bob Rivers – “I’ll Be Stoned for Christmas” – (2002)

Bob Rivers does some pretty convincing parody songs and this take on Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is among the best. It says that it is supposed to be a drunken Perry Como impression, which might be accurate, but Bingle owned this song originally.

220px-tlc-tipTLC – “Baby-Baby-Baby” – (1992)

Baby was a popular word in early-90s pop music, apparently. Also, TLC’s cover for this single looks like a still image from a Nickelodeon show from ’92. This was the girl group’s second-ever single and first huge hit. This song just goes to remind us all that the girls from TLC are all now in their mid-40s, which makes me feel old.

220px-heart_in_motionAmy Grant – “Baby Baby” – (1991)

Amy Grant’s career has mostly been spent in the Christian music realm but in the early 1990s she released a pop-tinged album, and this (the first single) went to #1 on the Hot 100. And because it was 1991, it naturally knocked Wilson Phillips out of the top spot. Oh, and this song is catchy as hell.

brandy_norwood_-_brandy_albumBrandy – “Baby” – (1994)

Brandy released her first album when she was only 15 and this Grammy-nominated song is probably the highlight of the album, and definitely the one that still gets the most radio airplay. It was a top five hit.

220px-rhythmnation1814Janet Jackson – “Rhythm Nation” – (1989)

This is sort of the title track from Janet’s 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814. As the second single, it went to #2 on the Hot 100 and its video is one of the most recognizable of the first 10 years of MTV. It’s one of the best songs from an album loaded with “best” songs.