Episode 241: Science Gone Wrong

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By request, we’re covering two songs that feel like experiments. “Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year” by Rosie Thomas feels like a blend of Christmas music conventions tweaked and polished into uncanny twee perfection, while “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by Rhan Wilson is a shambling nine-minute-forty-five-second abomination.

Thank you to Travis for these requests!

Episode 240: Once More, With Canada

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This week on HARK, it’s Canadian Thanksgiving, and while we’re always thankful for all of our listeners, we’re feeling particularly thankful for the ones who live north of the U.S. border. To celebrate, we cover two songs suggested by a long-time Canadian listener making his first request. “Jacob Marley’s Chain” by Aimee Mann is interesting, if only vaguely Christmas-related, and “Jack Gets Up” by Leo Kottke is perhaps even more interesting (and perhaps even less Christmas-related).

The ranking music this week is “Springtime” by Jeffrey Lewis.

Thank you to Ben for the requests!

Episode 239: Hanukkah Noir

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As we did last week, we’re adding two more Hanukkah songs to our list – but this time we’re contemplating some more solemn selections. “Light the Lamp” by Emily Kurn is a folk tribute to family connections, while “Chanukah Prayer” by Carole King offers tradition mixed with atmospheric jazz.

The ranking music this week is “Eight Candles (A Song for Hanukkah)” by Dave Koz.

Episode 238: It’s December 22nd, FYI

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Shanah Tovah! The High Holy Days are here, and as per tradition, we’re adding some Hanukkah tunes to our list. We appreciate the sophisticated indie-rock elements of “I Won’t Be Home for Chanukah” by TeamMate, such as the claps, and the beep-boops – and while “(When is) Hanukkah This Year” by Mêlée may have a catchy hook, it asks more questions than it answers.

Episode 237: Astronomical Phenomena

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In honor of the upcoming Autumnal Equinox, we listen to two songs of exactly equal length! “A New Year” by Stars has a hopeless sort of hope, while “Sunshine” by Sia perhaps overshoots on the optimism. And also Santa’s elves are involved somehow?

A note: our pre-song banter contains some bummers this week!

Episode 236: How to Make Toothpaste

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This week on HARK, we tackle two requests for which the requester provided very little context. The resulting episode includes discussions about mass incarceration and toothpaste jingles. “Everybody Deserves a Merry Christmas” by Ronnie Fauss is a type of twangy jailhouse rock, and “I’d Like You for Christmas” by Julie London has old-timey musical theatre vibes. You can guess which one prompted which discussion.

Thanks again to Brenda for the requests!

Episode 235: Eggnog Watch 2019

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September is here and you know what that means: somewhere in Canada, cartons are being filled with eggnog. Soon these cartons will make their way to grocery stores, and the eggnog within, to RJ’s tummy. But for now, we quench our nog-thirst with two songs about this holiday treat. Unfortunately, “Give the Gift of Egg Nog” by Samantha Bee (featuring a full Do-They-Know-It’s-Christmas-style chorus of celebs) turns out to be pretty eggnog-negative – luckily, “Nutmeg” by John Legend (featuring Stephen Colbert) delivers all the sweetness and spice we were looking for.

Episode 234: Inparsable Nonsense

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Everything is fine. Nothing is ruined. This week’s episode sees our stressed-out hosts taking comfort in the company of some old friends from Free Country, USA. “Santam’n is a Blade Man” by Homestar Runner and “The Decemberween Thnikkaman” by Strong Bad are both vestiges of the internet of our youth, and also, y’know, vaguely related to winter holidays.

Some corrections: Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People was definitely on the Wii. Christmas Tree Shops still exist, and are owned by Bed Bath & Beyond. “Inparsable” is probably not a word. As aforementioned, Homestar Runner and his companions live in Free Country, USA. Cut us some slack; we’ve had a week.

Episode 233: Jingle Horse 4: Lost In New York

With a Home Alone reboot apparently on the way and Macaulay Culkin’s birthday falling this week, we’re feeling nostalgic – and so we’re celebrating this classic torture-porn Christmas franchise with two requests from the soundtrack of Home Alone 2: Lost In New York! “All Alone On Christmas” by Darlene Love is a memorable jam that features assistance from the E Street Band, while “Somewhere in My Memory” by John Williams is a suitable score performed by the Boston Pops and American Boychoir.

Thank you to Brian from Ohio for the requests!

Episode 232: Semi-Ironic Hair Metal

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This week, we tackle some requests for songs belonging to that most 1980s of genres: Hair Metal. And yet, the two songs we’re covering were recorded in this millennium. Could it be that the artists who performed them did so less than 100 percent seriously? It’s kind of hard to tell, which is kind of the charm of both “O Come All Ye Faithful” by Twisted Sister and “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” by The Darkness.

Thank you to Matt for the requests!