On the 12th day of Christmas

With Christmas approaching like a malnourished wolf hunting its prey, I figured now would be an opportune time to highlight some holiday appropriate music. So put away the holiday appropriate sweaters and dig out the old jukebox (AKA iTunes) to add a few songs to your Christmas playlist.

Song: The 12 Days of Christmas
Artist: Straight No Chaser
Album: Holiday Cheers (live version available on Holiday Spirits)

The 12 Days of Christmas is to yuletide music what 99 Bottles of Beer is to road trips. It is inescapable. And it has experienced many incarnations aside from the traditional. Relient K put a pop-punk spin on the song (from the Let It Snow Baby… Let it Reindeer album) and the song got a hardcore makeover (X12 Days of XXXMASX) courtesy of From First to Last on the compilation A Santa Cause: It’s a Punk Rock Christmas. It is also a frequent target of parody (Bob River’s 12 Pains and Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck version are the two most memorable).

Enter Straight No Chaser. Their rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas is remarkable. It is the best version I have ever heard. It is the Cadillac of 12 Days. It eats other versions for breakfast. It… Oh, sorry, I got carried away. They originally performed the song as a college a cappella group in the mid 90’s. 10ish years later, one of the band members uploaded the video onto YouTube and they became an instant smash sensation. Too bad the band broke up after college. A record company bigwig saw the video, gave the group a record deal, and the group got back together. And the world is now a better place.

Why do I laud their take on the 12 Days of Christmas? For starters, it’s a cappella. Well done a cappella is why the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes. But more than that. I’m a fan of mash ups – the art of mashing multiple songs into a singular composition as if they were one song. To pull off an a cappella mash up, one must possess a special level of creativity and an off-kilter sense of humor. That is where the gentlemen in Straight No Chaser succeed. Aside from staggered stanzas (ala Row Row Row Your Boat), the song blends in a dizzying variety of others classics: Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Deck the Halls, Here We Come A-Wassailing, Carol of the Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, I Have a Little Dreidel, and Toto’s Africa. Yes, that Africa.

You can see the song here:

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