#19: Mele Kalikimaka by Robert Alex Anderson (1949)
This song is so sweet. Don’t get used to that. This is a list for the fans of the offbeat, untraditional, and iconoclastic.
The title is Hawaiian for “Merry Christmas.” Apparently, the Hawaiian language doesn’t used the R or S letters/sounds and pronounces the letters in Merry Christmas differently, so mele kalikimaka is literally the way they might read the words “Merry Christmas.” And thus it was sung to phonetic perfection by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters in 1950.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t have silly or stereotypical Hawaiian music in the background—way to be progressive, all the way back in 1950!
Further listening: Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano (1970).
Covers: Lots. Here’s a few interesting ones…
#18: Chiron Beta Prime by Jonathan Coulton (2006)
I love Jonathan Coulton. I love his tribute to the original zombie-mall film Dawn of the Dead sung as a business memorandum titled, “Re: Your Brains.” I love his cover of “Baby’s Got Back.” I love his tributes to being seven years old, particularly “Pizza Day.” He’s just awesome.
And when it comes to a deceptively deep song about how modern Christmas culture is nothing but corporate mind control, I love “Chiron Beta Prime.” From his terrific, “Thing A Week Two” album, it’s about a world where our robot overlords have enslaved us. And it takes place at Christmastime.
#17: Kurtis Blow-Christmas Rappin (1979)
Today’s celebration of the Christmas editions of The Greatest of All Tunes is a true rarity: A genre pioneer who got his start by pioneering in a different genre. Put differently, Kurt “Kurtis Blow” Walker was the first major-label rap star, and the first guy to get a gold record for rap music (The Breaks, in 1980). But his first single was “Christmas Rappin.'” So, he did a Christmas song before being a leader in the hip hop world. Before doing the research for this post, I assumed Christmas Rappin’ was just his attempt to cash in on his success, but it was the other way around! Blow was also one of the first rappers in the rock and roll hall of fame.
Further listening: If it’s old school rap you’re looking for, Treacherous 3’s Christmas Rap might fit the bill. If you’re into something more modern, I was very close to including Ludacris, “Ludacrismas” on this list. I love that song. And if you’re out for hardcore hippity hop, check out Ghostface Killah, “Ghostface X-Mas.”
Click next for more!