Merry Christmas, dear This Week In Records readers! I’d like to say that music stops for nobody, however a glance at this week’s new output (see below) suggests that’s not actually the case this week, however we do have a little celebration of 2016’s additions to the festive canon for you whilst we polish off our grand review of the year and gear up to announce the remainder of our favourite albums of the year over the course of the week. (Spoiler: today’s is from a lovely, lovely act that I may have mentioned once or twice in these columns and beyond.)
LCD Soundsystem – ‘Christmas Will Break Your Heart’
For the most compelling of this year’s original festive efforts, we must look back almost 365 days. In fact, as Christmas Eve struck its final breaths last year – making it, therefore, too late to be included in any roundups of 2015’s Christmas material alongside folks like Phoenix and The Killers – LCD Soundsystem put out their first new track in over five years. When they ultimately reunited properly throughout 2016 to play a set at Lovebox that made July 16th genuinely one of the greatest days of my life (and also do similar work at pokey little gatherings with silly names like Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, Roskilde, and Coachella), its sleigh bells sat aside for the non-seasonal greatest hits collection to resonate. Yet, as the year rolled on and that fourth album continued to not find its way to my ears, it stood just as magically.
Major Lazer feat. Protoje – ‘Christmas Trees’
While we’re on the topic of folks who headlined Lovebox over the anti-Christmas, Major Lazer’s effort deserves the most honourable mention of the genuine candidates for Now! That’s What I Call Christmas‘ future repertoire. Worry not, this isn’t the radio-targeting single to chase ‘Light It Up’ and ‘Cold Water‘ – that will feature Nicki Minaj and PARTYNEXTDOOR in, we believe, two weeks’ time. Instead, this highlight from A Very Decent Christmas 4, the latest compilation from Diplo’s Mad Decent family, gifts a fir-scented lilt to an ode to marijuana (that really doesn’t shy away from that word in the verses) from Protoje.
Gucci Mane – ‘St. Brick Intro’
Sometimes, words really can’t capture the abominations that This Week In Records attempts to cover. This, a cut from The Return Of East Atlanta Santa, the sixth multi-track “project” (Everybody Looking, GucTiggy with Zaytoven, Woptober, Free Bricks 2K16 (Zone 6 Edition) with Future, 1017 vs. The World with Lil Uzi Vert) to be released by Gucci Mane in the seven months since his release from a two-year prison sentence for a firearms charge, is one of those moments. Apple Music’s promotional cartoon really doesn’t make it easier to understand either.
Pentatonix – A Pentatonix Christmas
When Pentatonix put out their latest Christmas album NINE WHOLE WEEKS AGO, I was justifiably dismissive because IT WAS STILL OCTOBER. Then again, Clean Bandit released ‘Rockabye‘ with Sean Paul and Anne-Marie that same day and this evening it’s surely certain to be confirmed as a Christmas classic, stealing the number 1 spot for a seventh week, so there must have been something in the eggnog that day.
Now, however, I can be honest about A Pentatonix Christmas: if you are at all a fan of the acapella-cum-pop (apopella, if you will) juggernauts, fancy hearing traditional Christmas carols like ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,’ ‘Coventry Carol,’ and the late Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ being given such a spin, and finished both PTXmas and That’s Christmas To Me still wanting more of Avi Kaplan’s delectable bass to warm the cockles of your heart in convincing (and budget-friendly) lieu of turning on the heating, this’ll be right up your street.
Billie Marten – ‘White Christmas’
When choosing a Christmas song to cover, there are plenty of options beyond Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas,’ the biggest-selling song of all time. Fortunately, 17-year-old Billie Marten of Yorkshire chose to continue the colour-based trend of (at least the title of) September’s debut album Writing Of Blues And Yellows. Her monochrome rendition of the track that Bing Crosby made famous carries a stunning warmth, bearing gentle crackles and lingering effects to garnish what many others would easily have turned into just another acoustic revamp.
The Killers – Don’t Waste Your Wishes
It’s December. Here’s a clip from The Ghost Of This Week In Records Past. Please forgive me. There’ll be SO MANY WORDS after the turkey next week, I promise.
“Christmas in November? No! No! No!”
And thus ends my attempt at writing a Christmas song in the style of Homer Simpson. Perhaps largely due to my status as a November baby (who will indeed have aged somewhat further by the next time This Week In Records rolls around), I consider any mention of the festive season before December 1st to be grossly premature. As such, one month ago I referred to Pentatonix, an incredible a cappella quintet for whom I have the utmost respect and adoration, as bastards for releasing a winter compilation.
For The Killers, however, I will make an exception. Where nobody bothers to make real Christmas music anymore, the Las Vegas foursome has put out a cracking one for AIDS charities each year since 2006, even in times when it’s seemed as if they’d permanently gone their own ways. With ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ as the newest entry to their compendium, Don’t Waste Your Wishes finally brings everything together on a single disc, including the witty ‘Don’t Shoot Me Santa’ and the barnstorming ‘The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball.’
Catherine McGrath – One EP
J. Dilla – Jay Dee’s Ma Dukes Collection
Jeremih & Chance The Rapper – Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama
Nigel Kennedy – My World
Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Events EP
Shawn Mendes – Live At Madison Square Garden
Twenty One Pilots – TOPxMM EP
Alessia Cara – ‘How Far I’ll Go’
A.M. SNiPER feat. DreDay3000 & The Game – ‘Foreign Dreams’
Be Charlotte – ‘One Drop’
Big Sean feat. Chance The Rapper & Jeremih – ‘Living Single’
Denzel Curry feat. AJ Tracey & Rick Ross – ‘Knotty Head’ (UK Remix)
Dimension – ‘UK’ / ‘In Bleach’
DJ Snake & R. Kelly – ‘Let Me Love You’ (R. Kelly Remix)
DJ Snake & Sean Paul feat. Justin Bieber – ‘Let Me Love You’ (Sean Paul Remix)
Hannah Diamond – ‘Make Believe’
Harper – ‘Ghost’
Honey G – ‘The Honey G Show’
Jacob Sartorius – ‘Last Text’
Kris Kross Amsterdam & Conor Maynard feat. Ty Dolla $ign – ‘Are You Sure?’
Lafa Taylor & Aabo – ‘Turn My Music Up’
Mallory Knox – ‘Lucky Me’
Mr. Belt & Wezol – ‘Boogie Wonderland’
Ryan Adams – ‘To Be Without You’
Sam Feldt – ‘What About The Love’
Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar – ‘The Greatest’ (KDA Remix)
Terror Jr – ‘Heartbreaks’
Tokio Hotel – ‘Something New’
WizKid – ‘Daddy Yo’
Yelle – ‘Ici & Maintenant’
You Me At Six – ‘Heavy Soul’
Zara Larsson – ‘I Would Like’ (R3hab Remix)
Alice Jemima – ‘Driving Home For Christmas’
Carly Paoli – ‘My Christmas Dream Is You’
Cruz Beckham – ‘If Everyday Was Christmas’
Elsa Carmona – ‘Run Baby Run’
Hello Christmas – ‘Christmas Without You’
JAGMAC – ‘Best Christmas Ever’
Jamie Cullum – ‘Show Me The Magic’
Matt Terry – ‘When Christmas Comes Around’
Military Wives Choirs – ‘Home For Christmas’
Nathan Sykes – ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’
Oak View Academy – ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’
Rebecca & Fiona – ‘Cold As X-Mas’
Surge Radio – ‘Stay Another Year’