As we hurtle inevitably towards the holiday season and the end of 2018, our usually-jolly co-hosts take an episode to cover some music that speaks to the melancholy that many experience at this time of year. “Reason to Think Aloud” by Dan Mangan is a slow burn of a song containing some poetic lines about loneliness and despair, while “Christmas Lights” by Paul Baribeau is a more frantic tune that uses simple words to deliver its emotional gut-punches.
Warning: this episode gets a little heavy! We hope you will fast forward, pause, or skip this one altogether if you need to.
Hanukkah starts at sundown on December 2nd, and we’re celebrating with two Hanukkah songs perfect for any indie-folk-rock-heavy holiday playlist! “Hanukkah” by The Living Sisters offers pleasing harmonies about the festival of lights, though its message is a bit muddled – while “Rock of Ages” by Ben Kweller is a take on Ma’oz Tsur that manages to sound both hip and classic.
It’s late November, which can only mean one thing – the avalanche week of late-capitalism-borne holidays following Thanksgiving are upon us. This week on HARK we’re not celebrating Black Friday, Giving Sunday, or Dragon Tuesday – we’re highlighting Cyber Monday (nominally, at least) with two songs sprung from the marriage of art and science. The wholesome-sounding “Love’s Not Just For Christmas” is performed by the London Community Gospel Choir, but it was written formulaically by a team of music experts at the behest of a British real estate investment trust that operates a chain of shopping malls. Then we hear the actually-wholesome musings of a computer trying its best – “Neural Story Singing Christmas” by Neural Story Singing, a recurrent neural network model developed by scientists at the University of Toronto.
We cover more listener requests! Warm up your love-lights for the stirring Bing Crosby classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, followed by Relient K’s dirge of adolescent holiday heartache, “I Hate Christmas Parties”.
Thank you to Philip for these requests!
RJ’s birthday is this week, and so it is time again for BIRTHDAY BOI’S CHOICE. Similar to Ian’s 2018 birthday selections, RJ goes for two songs off of the same album – the best-selling holiday album of 1997, Hanson’s Snowed In! In Hanson’s third appearance on HARK, we discuss two more tracks penned by the brothers themselves – “At Christmas” and “Christmas Time”.
Who you gonna call? HARK PODCAST! We indulge in our annual Halloween tradition and listen to some winter holiday music with a spooooky twist. First up is “Christmas Spirit” by Tele Novella, a macabre pop ditty celebrating well-behaved monsters. Then “Buffy, It’s Cold Outside” by Jenny Owen Youngs and Kristin Russo elevates a much-maligned classic tune by mashing it up with the campy homoeroticism of our two favorite vampire slayers.
This week on HARK we dive back in to our repeat-requester pile and take on a needlessly aggressive rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” titled simply (sigh) “Santa’s Coming” by CKY. We pair it up with another strange tune about a scary Santa, “Santa Came On a Nuclear Missile” by Heather Noel.
Thanks to CJ for the request!
How many ways are there to sing that standard of Christmas standards, Jingle Bells? By request we cover two unique takes – “Jingle Bells” as performed by America’s problematic beach uncle Jimmy Buffett, and the intriguingly punctuated “Jingle Bells?” performed by Barbra Streisand.
Thank you to Andy for these requests!
This week by request, we’re listening to DMX’s 2017 cover of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, which – hey! You know what! Could have been much worse! Then we treat ourselves to another rendition of this classic as performed by The Temptations.
Thanks to Anna for the request!
It’s almost Leif Erikson Day, and so this week we’re covering songs from the land of fire and ice, Iceland! Perhaps predictably, we listen to a song by Bjork, whose rendition of “Jólakötturinn” is the perfect spooky song to kick off October. Then we revisit a Christmas standard with an Icelandic twist – “Ég fæ jólagjöf” by Katla María.