And Rudolph goes down! Welcome to Round 3 of Christmas Songology, the holiday bracket contest where you get to finally help decide what the best Christmas song is. George Bailey and friends and family completely outmatched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 67% to 33% in the votes yesterday with their rendition of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Other big percentage wins included Josh Groban’s O Holy Night over Andrea Bocelli’s Adeste Fideles (62% to 38%); The First Noel over Away in a Manger (65% to 36%); Ella Fitzgerald over Elvis Presley (68% to 32%); Little Drummer Boy over The Twelve Days of Christmas (63% to 37%); and the Grinch over the Pogues’ remorseful yet fun, heartfelt, romantic Christmas ballad, Fairy Tale of New York, with a whopping 74% to 26%.
Today offers some good as well as some strange matchups, the most exciting of which might be No.1 and No.2 seeds in the Classics region going head-to-head with Jimmy Stewart vs. James Taylor. The Zany region continues to be appropriately named as No.1 seed, The Grinch, takes on No.7 seed, David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s Little Drummer Boy, (arguably the worst song left in this tournament.) Ella finds herself up against Snoopy, and Josh Groban battles it out with the Vienna Boys Choir. Lots of excitement with only these 8 songs left, so go listen and vote!
(Note: Many of these songs require you to sign up for a free Spotify account in order to listen to them.)
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, and was originally performed with a slow and somber tone, unlike the joyful and upbeat way it is often heard today, like in this iconic last scene from the 1946 classic It’s A Wonderful Life.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was first performed by Judy Garland in the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Though the song often follows the altered lyrics from Frank Sinatra’s cover (“Hang a shining star upon the highest bough”), James Taylor’s version restored the original line (“Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow”), giving the song a more melancholy tone.
O Holy Night, a well-known traditional carol of the season, was composed in 1847 and happens to be the second piece of music ever broadcast on the radio in 1906.
The First Noel is a traditional English carol from the 18th century. The word Noel comes from the French word Noël meaning Christmas, which derives from the Latin word natalis that translates as “birthday.”
Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Ella Fitzgerald
Baby It’s Cold Outside was originally written and performed by Frank Loesser (of Guys and Dolls fame,) and his wife at their 1944 Christmas party. The song has since been covered by many artists through the years, though perhaps the most popular recording is that of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan (one of 8 recordings in 1949 alone!)
Since 1965 Christmas Time is Here has been a perennial hit just like the television special it was written for, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
With lyrics written by Dr. Seuss, You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch debuted as part of the 1966 animated special How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy was filmed in 1977 for Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas special. The pair never recorded the song in a recording studio, and Bowie’s half of the lyrics (the “Peace on Earth” section of the song) was written as a separate song because the pop star didn’t want to sing Little Drummer Boy.