It’s our first requests of 2019 (submitted in 2018)! We cover two songs destined for the “mushy middle” of the list, but each one brings us some joy along the way. “Santa Says Relax” by Joe Innes and the Cavalcade is a post-ironic indie tune that makes us wish it was Christmas, while “Christmas in New Orleans” by Rickie Lee Jones is a sad, complex song that merits a second listen.
RJ and Ian are back from their international holiday travels, and they are SLEEPY. In this first episode of HARK recorded on this side of 2019, Ian explains the Julian calendar, RJ coins some new idioms, and we cover two new year songs – “Same Old Land Syne” by Dan Fogelberg and “New Year’s Day” by U2. Yeah.
We have been informed that we do not cover enough songs from the 1980s, and for our first episode of 2019, we are taking decisive action. Unfortunately for 80s fans, that action does not involve covering songs from that decade. Instead, we’re talking about two songs that remind us of the 1980s – “Christmas was Better in the Eighties” by The Futureheads and “Merry Something to You” by Devo.
Matthew’s slideshow featuring analysis of HARK can be viewed here!
Hanukkah and Christmas are done and past for another year, and on this December the 26th we’re celebrating Kwanzaa! We add two new Kwanzaa songs to the list: Teddy Pendergrass’ smooth, catchy, and a little bit corny anthem “Happy Kwanzaa” and Lovely Hoffman’s – well, lovely – “A Kwanzaa Song”.
Our 200th episode is here, and RJ and Ian are once again trying to beat out the best and worst songs on the list! We begin by discussing the safe, reliable picks that we both settled on weeks ago – and then instead present the riskier choices that surprised us in the eleventh hour. Listen in to hear which unique tune by the smooth-voiced June Christy charmed us and what hellish nonsense by Ray Stevens made us very uncomfortable!
The slideshow featuring analysis of every song we’ve ever covered (before last week) can be viewed here! Many thanks to our friend Matthew Murray for creating it!
With Christmas less than two weeks away, we’re trying something novel and only listening to extremely good music in this episode. These two songs – “Mary’s Baby” by Charles Bradley and “Christmas is a Feeling In Your Heart” as performed by Love Colony featuring Six – may not be the greatest holiday songs of all time, but they are definitely honorable mentions.
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”.