Amir “Questlove” Thompson plays us Christmas recordings – some favorites and some unusual ones. He’s perhaps the most popular DJ in America, in addition to being the co-founder of The Roots, the houseband for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” This year he won an Oscar for his documentary “Summer of Soul.”
"We think it's all a bit vulgar, you know, cashing in on Christmas," Lowe says of the British. He says he took it as a challenge: Quality Street tackles old classics and adds originals to the mix.
Whether glossy and heartfelt (Clarkson's Wrapped in Red) or earnest and playful (Lowe's Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family), these albums can help conjure a holiday mood in the month before Christmas.
In his new book, the guitarist, singer and songwriter shares stories from life growing up in a musical household and talks about collaborating and sharing the stage with the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney.
Thorn has recorded a holiday album, Tinsel and Lights, that critic Ken Tucker says might just work for warmer weather, as well. Tucker praises Thorn's voice as "bolstered by a firm intelligence," and says she avoids the fatty treacle that often weighs down Christmas albums.
Songwriter Hugh Martin, who co-wrote the classic song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for Judy Garland's 1944 movie, Meet Me in St. Louis died on Friday. He was 96. Fresh Air remembers Martin with highlights from a 1989 interview.
Every holiday season brings a new batch of seasonal pop music, some of it from unlikely or obscure sources. Rock critic Ken Tucker has listened to most of the new holiday collections released this year, and has chosen three albums that ought to make your season a bit more festive.
Two kinds of people consume Christmas music: those who actually like the stuff, and folks who need something listenable on hand in case seasonal visitors insist on some ornamental mood music. For both groups, two new jazz brass albums should do the trick. Critic Kevin Whitehead reviews.
The news that Bob Dylan was making a Christmas album came as a surprise. Now that Christmas In The Heart has been released, with the announcement that all profits will go to charity, it's caused even more consternation, with commentators divided as to whether it's an earnest effort or one big put-down. Rock critic Ken Tucker offers his opinion.
Self-proclaimed "broadcasting legend" Stephen Colbert talks about his upcoming Christmas special on Comedy Central. According to Colbert, it will include goats dressed as reindeer and his own original Christmas songs.
With 13 days still to go, some listeners might be crying "Enough!" (already) when the carols play. For them, Fresh Air's resident rock critic offers up two Christmas albums that might help make the holiday chestnuts seem fresh again: It's Christmas, Of Course, from Darlene Love, and Raul Malo's Marshmallow World and Other Holiday Favorites.
Along with Ralph Blaine, Hugh Martin wrote "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The song was made famous in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, but since then, many different versions have been recorded with changes in lyrics. Martin also wrote music for Broadway productions including Best Foot Forward, Look Ma, I'm Dancin' and the stage version of Meet Me in St. Louis. Martin is 94.
Director John Waters, known for making art from sleaze, has a new CD for the season, A John Waters Christmas. It includes such songs as "Here Comes Fatty Claus," "Little Mary Christmas," and "Santa Claus is a Black Man." Waters was once crowned the "Pope of Trash" by William Burroughs.
Apart from being the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and playing mob guy Silvio on The Sopranos, Steven Van Zandt is also a radio DJ. We talk with Van Zandt about creating the music for the new movie Christmas with the Kranks.