Episode 29: Sad, Gentle, and Recorded Before 1985

There’s a lot of music of one particular genre populating the bottom of our list: country music. This week we give country its fair shake by reviewing two country Christmas songs we actually like, “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton and “Pretty Paper” by Willie Nelson. Grab your harmonica and get ready to get melancholy, y’all.

Episode 28: Happy Birthday Mara Wilson

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What do Summer Glau, Karl Malone, Lynda Carter, Banana Yoshimoto and our co-host Ian all have in common? They were all born on July 24th! In this week’s episode, we celebrate Ian’s birthday by listening to Christmas covers by The A-Teens (member Dhani Lennevald was born July 24, 1984) and actress Daveigh Chase (born July 24, 1990). Also mentioned in this episode: Jingle Bell Rocks, the documentary about Christmas music and it devotees, which we liked a lot! See the trailer here: http://jinglebellrocks.vhx.tv/

Episode 27: Deez Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire

We’ve covered a number of crappy pop songs from the late 1990s and early 2000s on HARK. But the world of crappy original pop holiday music from this era is vast and diverse, as illustrated by this week’s songs, requested by Katelyn. Hilary Duff gives us the uninspiring but possibly science-fictional “Santa Claus Lane”, while Canadian wunderkinds The Moffatts deliver the maddeningly catchy “Earl the Christmas Squirrel”.

Episode 26: All I Want for Christmas is Two Bunnies and a Reindeer Dog

How did we decide to follow up our 50-song milestone extravaganza? With a double dose of Mariah Carey, of course! We cover the pop songstress’ modern Christmas classic (you know the one), as well as her more recent – and more peculiar – take on the New Year standard Auld Lang Syne.

Episode 25: A Christmas Classic and a Whole New Low

In this very special milestone episode, our list hits 50 songs and we celebrate by attempting to knock out the top and bottom songs on the list! Ian and RJ surprise each other with their picks for the very best and very worst holiday songs, and joy and rage abound.

Episode 23: Hug Your Loved Ones

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With the summer solstice approaching, Ian and RJ take this new dawn as an opportunity to discuss two songs about a thus-far neglected winter holiday – the New Year! Ella Fitzgerald undersells herself in the charming “What Are You Doing New Years Eve?” while Sufjan Stevens’ “Auld Lang Syne” sounds as Sufjan Stevensy as you expect, complete with banjo and theremin (or perhaps a saw). Also, Prince is issued a lifetime ban from the podcast. Your move, Prince.

Episode 21: Miracles and Ill Reindeer

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RJ & Ian review two holiday hip-hop songs. While the genre hasn’t got a lot of love on the show so far (Busta Rhymes’ collaboration with Bieber notwithstanding), we have a lot of good things to say about these two – one an endlessly endearing Christmas classic, the other a surprising Hanukkah romp. You can read the NPR article we reference, “Light a Fire for Hanukkah Music”, here: http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2010/12/02/131699442/matisyahu-light-a-fire-for-chanukah-music

Episode 20: The Elf on the Shelf Works for Big Brother

You know the tune: the one in which we tell children they are being watched while they sleep. You probably also know the beloved Bruce Springsteen version of it. But which version do we think The Boss might have been inspired by? Listen in to learn about Springsteen’s cover, its antecedents, the Elf on the Shelf conspiracy, and much more.