Tag Archives: Melanie Thornton

The missing Christmas hits

Fascinating to read in the Milwaukee paper the other day that no Christmas song has been a hit since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” in 1994.

My pal JB over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ also took note of that story, which prompted him to ponder the state of Christmas radio then and now.

All that said, there certainly are some Christmas songs that should have hit the charts in the last 17 years. Here are some of them.

“Who Needs Mistletoe,” Julie Roberts, from “Who Needs Mistletoe,” 2011. A country song every bit as filthy as Clarence Carter’s great “Back Door Santa.”

“Oi To The World,” Severe, from the wonderful Punk Rock Advent Calendar, 2009. Well, it’s reverent as far as UK punks go.

“We Three Kings,” Blondie, a 2009 holiday release. Always fun to find Debbie Harry under the tree. Always fun to hear Blondie’s classic sound.

“Merry Christmas Baby,” Melissa Etheridge, from “A New Thought For Christmas,” 2008. Blistering vocals and blistering blues guitar. Move over, fellas.

“Silent Night,” the Blackhearts and special guests, from “A Blackheart Christmas,” 2008. Some sound bites from that year’s presidential race make it a bit of a time capsule. It once had a bit of a valedictory feel. Now it has the feel of opportunities lost.

“Silent Night,” Bootsy Collins, from “Christmas Is 4 Ever,” 2006. A sweet mashup of reverent narration, funk, R&B and gospel.

“Winter (Basse Dance),” Blackmore’s Night, from “Winter Carols,” 2006. It’s out of print but is available digitally. If you can get past that Ritchie Blackmore is no longer rocking out as he did in Deep Purple and Rainbow and not cede all the elegant guitar work to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you might dig this instrumental.

“Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming),” Melanie Thornton, from “Memories,” 2003. It’s an import that has gone out of print. This tune was used in a Coca-Cola ad after the R&B singer’s death 10 years ago, but its back story transcends marketing.

“It’s Christmas And I Miss You,” .38 Special, from “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night,” 2001. It’s out of print but is available digitally. A gentle ballad reflecting the loneliness the season can bring. It’s co-written by guitarist Don Barnes and our friend Jim Peterik.

“Little Drummer Boy,” the Dandy Warhols, from “Fruitcake,” 1997, a Capitol Records promo EP. It’s out of print. In which the Little Drummer Boy takes a psychedelic trip.

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ (In A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train),” the Tractors, from “Have Yourself A Tractors Christmas,” 1995. It’s out of print but is available digitally. This fine bit of country swing actually was a modest hit on country radio in in 1995 and again in 1998. After all, it’s just their 1994 hit “Baby Likes To Rock It” retooled with new lyrics for Christmas.

“Soul Christmas,” Graham Parker and Nona Hendryx, from “Christmas Cracker,” 1994. If there were any justice, this scorcher would have been the hit from 17 years ago.

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under December 2011, Sounds

Three under the tree, Vol. 27

Today’s three under the three are among the Christmas tunes I discovered in the last couple of months. They may not be new, but they’re new to me.

villegasguitarrascd.jpg

“Jingle Bells,” Luis Villegas, from “Guitarras De Navidad,” 2005.

The SoundRoots blog featured this terrific tune — an instrumental salsa version that cooks — in early December. I’m going to have to track down and check out this album.

Villegas self-produced this album a couple of years ago and sold it at his shows until getting a distribution deal with Tenure Records this summer. A first-generation Mexican-American, Villegas lives in his native Los Angeles and has put out four albums in the last decade.

yuletidezeppelin.jpg

“Yuletide Zeppelin” and “Yuletide Zeppelin II,” Mojochronic, from “Santastic III in 3-D,” 2007.

Christmas tunes mashed up with Led Zeppelin songs. Hey, it works. Way better than you’d think. And it’s fun. According to his MySpace page, Mojochronic is a 46-year-old guy from Berkeley, California.

“Yuletide Zeppelin” is just one of 20 cuts on “Santastic III in 3-D,” the third in a series of holiday-themed mashups from a variety of DJs and mashup artists, all compiled by dj BC, also known as Bob Cronin, from Boston. “Yuletide Zeppelin II” is a bonus track.

melaniethorntonemoriescd2.jpg

Then there is this song and its story.

“Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming),” Melanie Thornton, from “Memories,” a 2003 import.

As first listen, it doesn’t seem like a Christmas song.

But when you put it together with these memorable images …

… it becomes a Christmas song.

And when you add its remarkable backstory, it becomes unforgettable.

Melanie Thornton grew up in South Carolina wanting to become a singer. She got her big break in Germany, where she eventually gained dual citizenship. She became the lead singer in La Bouche, the European dance group that hit it big in the ’90s. She left the group in 2000 to pursue a solo career, and she had some success in Europe.

In late 2001, she cut “Wonderful Dream” for use in a Coca-Cola ad in Germany. It also was included on her new album, “Ready to Fly.”

On Nov. 24, 2001, Thornton was among 24 people killed in a plane crash in Zurich, Switzerland. Their plane went down in the woods on its approach to the runway. She was 34.

Despite her death, Coca-Cola went ahead with the ad campaign. It’s since aired in the United States and Europe. Two years after Thornton’s death, “Wonderful Dream” was re-released in Germany with a memorial video.

I never knew any of that until I read Steve’s post over at I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday earlier this month, then did a little digging on my own.

And now I can’t get it out of my head.

Enjoy. More to come, but …

Just four days until Christmas …
and just two more days for “Three under the tree”

We’re going to wrap up this series on Sunday. When it ends, I’ll post a list of all the songs and provide links to the posts in which they appeared. The tunes will be available through the end of the year, if you’re just too busy to go get them now.

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas music, December 2007, Sounds