Episode 197: Twee Indie Hanukkah

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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.

Episode 196: Cyberpunk Dystopia Monday

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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.

Episode 194: Call Me Isaac or Taylor or Zac

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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”.

Episode 193: Jingle Bones

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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.

Episode 192: UN Declaration on Guns That Are Lasers

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!

Episode 191: Jimmy Babs?

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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!

Episode 189: Feliz Jól

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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.

Episode 188: Hanukkah Pocket

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This week’s episode falls on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, so we’re marking this occasion by adding two new Hanukkah songs to our ever-growing list of winter holiday music. “Pass the Candle” by Michelle Citrin is an upbeat little tune perfectly suited for a Hanukkah montage, while “Not By Might, Not By Power” by Debbie Friedman brings a powerful performance and a message of peace.