Episode 288: Original Takes on Death

We’re back, and we’re talking about death! To get back into the swing of things after our brief summer break, we listen to two requested songs – “Yes December” by Nerina Pallot and “Lost in the Snow” by Bruce Hornsby – about cooler weather. And also, it turns out, mortality! 

Thank you to Jenny and Daniel the Macy’s Elf for these requests!

Our ranking music in this episode is “Farmhouse” by Phish.

Episode 287: Jim’s Big New Year

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The summer solstice approaches (in this hemisphere), and we’re celebrating the new season with two New Year’s Eve/Day songs! By listener request, we add another song to our list from the genre we are hereby dubbing “TMBGcore “: “New Lang Syne (Thank God It’s Over)” by Jim’s Big Ego. Then by our own free will we add another song by Taylor Swift, “New Year’s Day”. When the genie that only lets you listen to one Taylor Swift song for the rest of your life visits, you can do better than this one.

This episode’s ranking music is “Stress” by Jim’s Big Ego!

The organization that we recommended supporting with a donation is the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

Episode 286: Fake Sinatra

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Hang on to your beep-boops, in this episode we returning to the world of neural-net-generated carols! OpenAI’s Jukebox performs an original song created by fellow neural net GPT-2, under the title “Classic Pop, in the Style of Frank Sinatra”. The Forever Now, a band composed of regular ol’ humans, puts their spin on the same lyrics under the title “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, King of All the Earth”. Man vs. machine! Will robots come out on top or trip on that uncanny valley?

The ranking music in this episode is “Jazz, in the Style of Ella Fitzgerald” by OpenAI’s Jukebox. You can read Janelle Shane’s post about Jukebox here and her post about creation of the Christmas carol lyrics here!

Thank you to Matthew for the request! RJ’s other podcast, Book Club For Masochists, can be found here.

Episode 285: Sword Tweets

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With Victoria Day approaching, we’re once again covering holiday songs from across the pond! By listener request, we discuss “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek” by The Go-Go’s, a British novelty song documenting the mid-1960s Daleks obsession, and “Arthur McBride and the Sergeant” as performed by Paul Brady, an Irish folk song documenting some British recruiters getting their asses handed to them on Christmas morning.

The ranking music in this episode is “Stop the Cavalry” by Jona Lewie.

Thank you to Myles for these requests!

Episode 284: Hard Jazz

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You ever hear a brass instrument doing its thing and you think: that’s jazz, baby! And then in another song you hear a brass instrument doing something, maybe not its thing, and you think: is this approaching the concept of jazz? For this International Jazz Day episode, we explore two songs’ proximity to the category of jazz. First up is “Mary Had a Baby” as performed by Wynton Marsalis, featuring vocals by Roberta Gumbel. It’s for sure jazz, but also, more! Then we make another visit to Bill & Gloria Gaither’s proverbial Christmas cabin with “He Drew the Line” featuring Woody Wright and Mike Allen. Is it jazz? Is it jazzy? Is it (jazzy?)? Well.

Our ranking music in this episode is “I’m Gonna E-mail Santa” by Billy Gilman. Thank you to Andrew for requesting “He Drew the Line”!

Episode 283: O Christmas Weed

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This was supposed to be our annual 4/20 episode, but it also turned out to be a sleeper Halloween episode – though I suppose an anxious, paranoid vibe is not wholly inappropriate. Our first song, “Pudsy’s Christmas” by Jonathan Coulton, manages to give RJ a serious case of heebie-jeebies due to its origin story. “California Christmas Trees” by Mila J doesn’t provide quite the come-down we’re looking for, but it is at least, you know, not cursed.

Our ranking music this week is “Christmas in LA (Instrumental)” by Vulfpeck.

Episode 282: HSM:TM:TS:THS:TS

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This week we’re forgoing our tradition of covering more religious songs for the Easter and Pesach seasons in favor of lighter fare. We dig into two 2020 Hanukkah songs brought to you by that one company that owns most of the things! You know the one. “Hanukkah Medley” performed by Julia Lester of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series packs three traditional Hanukkah songs (including one that we assumed was an original during recording) and several costume changes into just two minutes. “Puppy for Hanukkah” by Daveed Diggs also has a lot going on – including, you know, being a bop.

Our ranking music this episode is “Puppies are Forever” by Sia.

Episode 281: Fun-Fun, Bad-Bad

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It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so for this episode we’ve got… well, one mildly relevant song. By request, we listen to “The Season’s Upon Us” by Dropkick Murphys, a Celtic-punk entry in the “I hate my family” subgenre of holiday tunes. Then we hear No Doubt’s rendition of “Oi to the World”, evoking both nostalgia and regret.

Our ranking music in this episode is “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys. The scene-by-scene breakdown of the “Oi to the World” music video we mentioned is here.

Thank you to Scott for these requests!

Episode 280: She’s a Lady (Reindeer)

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we’re listening to two songs that bring women to the forefront of the Christmas character canon! Uh, sort of. “Good Queen Wenceslas” by Goldstein is an odd take on the classic carol that leaves us feeling conflicted, while “Red Nose, Red Dress” by Christmas Aguilera has us completely hooked. So much so that it’s also the ranking music for this episode!

Episode 279: Más Idiomas

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In honor of International Mother Language Day on February 21st, we’re increasing the linguistic diversity of our list by covering two songs in languages that haven’t been featured on the show before! First up we enjoy “Elu Agogo”, a cheerful Christmas song in Yoruba performed by Ife Ogunwumiju. Then we experience “Marie Te Po”, a Te Reo Maori translation of “Silent Night”, performed by Lucky Boy^ – who brings some delightful surprises to the old standard.

The ranking music in this episode is “Betelehemu” as performed by the African Children’s Choir.