Tag Archives: die hard

Non-traditional Holiday Tunes

This time of year it’s hard to go out into the world without being bombarded by holiday music; whether you’re a fan or not, it can get tiring hearing the same tunes over and over again. As a balm for the holiday music assault, our music and film specialists at the Main Carnegie Library offer these suggestions for seasonally appropriate music that’s a little off the beaten path. Read their suggestions below!

Tara

james

Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” / James Brown

Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin” / Albert King

Back Door Santa” / Clarence Carter

Purple Snowflakes” / Marvin Gaye

A Five Pound Box of Money” / Pearl Bailey

Christmas in Jail” / The Youngsters

I’m actually a fan of holiday classics like Nat King Cole’s Christmas album. But when I need a change of pace, or want to put my dancing shoes on, nobody gets me in the holiday mood like James Brown. We also have a lot of soul holiday compilations, available on CD or through Freegal, with hidden gems like Pearl Bailey’s “A Five Pound Box of Money.”

 

Rebekah

duke

Hansel and Gretel / Engelbert Humperdinck

Three Suites / Duke Ellington

Though Hansel and Gretel does not have a Christmas theme, it is often staged by many opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, at this time of year.  It does have gingerbread cookies… well, ok, children turned into cookies.  The music is fantastic and instead of Santa you get a creepy witch.

If you think Tchaikovsky needs a little swing, then Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite” from his album Three Suites  is for you.  Ellington and Pittsburgh’s own Billy Strayhorn put their stamp on a holiday classic.  Try the “Sugar Rum Cherry” track for a sample.

 

Amy

rundmc  diehard

Christmas in Hollis / Run D.M.C.

“Christmas in Hollis” is a cheerful song about the benefits of not stealing Santa’s wallet – though now that I think about it, the song never does tell us how Santa got his driver’s license back (it must have been a Christmas Miracle). It also mentions macaroni and cheese, and is featured in my favorite Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard.

 

Tim

mercyfulfaith

I made my feelings known about the month of December in my Deathcember blog post a few years back, but I am still happy to help you find either the wholesome Christmas with Perry Como album or a blasphemous album by Mercyful Fate.

 

Kirby

xtina

My Kind of Christmas / Christina Aguilera

Whenever I need a break from traditional Christmas song fare, I listen to the fabulous remix version of Mel Torme’s “Christmas Song” (you know…”chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”) as conceived by Christina Aguilera on her My Kind of Christmas CD!  It’s a thrilling combination of driving rhythm track with a smooth, slow melodic line on top! How about combining a traditional Latin text with a non-traditional 20th century poly-tonality (different keys + major and minor all at the same time), sung by a choir?  Check out Daniel Pinkham’s joyous “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” from his Christmas Cantata with the Washington Chorus and National Capital Brass on CLP’s Naxos Music Library streaming site.  Listen for the tremendous high B in the tenor section on the last chord!  

 

Julie

americanfolk

Traditional Christmas Carols / Pete Seeger

American Folk Songs for Christmas / Mike, Peggy, and Penny Seeger

These CDs include seasonal folk songs collected and arranged by Ruth Crawford Seeger which were first published in a songbook called American Folk Songs for Christmas in 1953. Ruth’s children, Mike, Peggy, and Penny Seeger recorded a double CD of these carols (released in 1989). Ruth Crawford Seeger’s step-son Pete chose three songs from her collection for his 1967 recording of folk carols. 61 years since the songbook was published, the selections and arrangements remain fresh and uplifting.

 

David

pogues

Fairytale of New York / The Pogues

This story of a man spending Christmas Eve in the drunk tank, thinking about a relationship torn apart by alcoholism and addiction, is one of the most popular Christmas songs in the UK. Performed in the style of an Irish folk song, the duet is sung by the Pogues’ lead singer, Shane MacGowan, and Kirsty MacColl, daughter of legendary English folksinger Ewan MacColl.

~ Happy holidays from the Music, Film & Audio Department

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10 Non-traditional Holiday Movies

‘Tis the season for holiday movies. Some viewers prefer traditional heart-warming holiday classics such as It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. For the rest of you—who prefer your holiday movies with explosions—there is probably no better holiday movie than the 1988 action classic Die Hard.

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I’ve rounded up a handful of seasonally appropriate movies below, with something that should appeal to even the most discerning cinefile and/or saccharine-adverse.

aboutaboy

About a Boy
Hugh Grant convinces a lonely adolescent to pretend to be his son so he can score with attractive single moms. There’s some Christmas thrown in there too, and maybe even a little bit of redemption.

theapartment

The Apartment
An insurance employee loans out his apartment to managers and their mistresses, with the hope of getting a promotion. Everything is going along swimmingly until the aftermath of the office Christmas party.

christmastale

A Christmas Tale
A bone marrow transplant, mental illness, self-injury, alienation, general family dysfunction, and Catherine Deneuve. It’s a very French holiday film!

diehard

Die Hard
A holiday party is in full swing at the Nakatomi Plaza building in Los Angeles, when suddenly the building is taken over by Hans Gruber and his henchmen. It is then up to our hero, police officer John McClane, to save the day and restore holiday cheer.

frozenriver

Frozen River
It’s almost Christmas time, and two single mothers bond while smuggling illegal immigrants across the New York-Quebec border.

gremlins

Gremlins
A perfect lesson in why it is never acceptable to give a pet as a gift without the recipient’s consent.

inbruges

In Bruges
Two hit men lay low in Bruges, Belgium during the holiday season and develop a love/hate relationship with the city. One loves it, one hates it.

lethalweapon

Lethal Weapon
On a recent re-viewing, I discovered that this quintessential buddy cop movie is also a holiday movie—if for no other reason than a fantastic scene taking place at a Christmas tree lot.

rareexports

Rare Exports
A Finnish film that reimagines Santa as a supernatural creature that punishes naughty children instead of rewarding nice ones. (Side note: I still haven’t seen this one yet, but numerous co-workers have told me it’s excellent.)

tradingplaces

Trading Places
This one counts as a Christmas movie due to one memorable sequence about halfway into the movie—Dan Aykroyd dons a Santa suit and sneaks into his former employer’s Christmas party to destroy the man (Eddie Murphy) who replaced him. It goes poorly to say the least, but, he does manage to make it out of the bash with a full side of salmon which he then consumes on a city bus.

tradingplaces

Ho, Ho, Ho. Image taken from the site: http://www.latimes.com

How about you? What sort of classic (or non-classic) holiday movies will you be watching this season?

Yippee-Ki-Yay Happy Holidays,
Tara

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Sentimental Favorites

It’s hard to knock someone for their favorite Christmas movie. I think more than any other films, these are the movies we have the biggest emotional connection with. They’re tied to very specific memories, especially those from our childhoods.

Mine?

Absolutely, yes.  (I recommend the 2005 release for the re-addition of the “When Love is Gone” number. Schmaltzy? Sure. Necessary to the story? Yes.). You can’t beat the combination of Muppets and classic literature. But more than Muppets and a timeless story, this movie is also about spending time with my sister, giggling at Rizzo and Gonzo, singing along to the music and rooting for Robin as Tiny Tim.

Christmas Vacation is a close runner up (Did you know that the actress who played Aunt Bethany, Mae Questel, had a pretty amazing career as a voice actress with two iconic characters to her credit – Betty Boop and Olive Oyl!) I think it gets funnier with every viewing, really.

I can also appreciate movies that don’t immediately jump out at you as traditionally “Christmas Movies.” My best friend would say his favorite is Batman Returns  and I know plenty of people swear by Die Hard. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I also think of Little Women, especially the 1994 version, as a holiday movie.

Are there any you feel strongly loyal to?

       

– Jess, who is singing Muppet songs to herself now

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