Halftime Leisure

Weekly List: A Sufjan Stevens Christmas, Part II

December 5, 2016

Last year Halftime brought you ten of the best tracks off of Sufjan Steven’s extensive Christmas repertoire. To get you in the holiday spirit once again, we’re back with ten tracks filled with a ton of wackiness, group vocals and Christmas spirit. Halftime presents: The Weekly List: A Sufjan Stevens Christmas, Part II.

  1. “The Midnight Clear” – Silver & Gold

Sufjan Stevens has a knack for imparting the warm feelings of the Christmastime through his music. “The Midnight Clear”, delicately backed by a banjo and a xylophone, is a warm and bright interpolation of the stodgy Christmas classic “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” that will easily get you into a holiday mood.

2. “Christmas Woman” – Silver & Gold

“Christmas Woman” shows off Steven’s ability to make sense out of a cacophony of sound. The first couple of verses come from a chorus of people singing over bells, drums, whistles and guitars until Steven’s clear voice breaks through at the end. The song bursts with joyful noises that make for a unique listening experience.

3. “Sleigh Ride” – Silver & Gold

Starting out as a jaunty cover of “Sleigh Ride”, the track gets the familiar Sufjan Steven’s treatment with a quick musical breakdown and the addition of various Garageband stock noises at the end because, well, why not?

4. “Ding-a-ling-a-ring-a-ling” – Silver & Gold

In an interesting addition to his Christmas repertoire, “Ding-ling-a-ring-a-ling” has Steven’s leading what sounds like a elementary school Sunday class in a jam session. The wacky lyrics about Jesus being the “king-a-ling-a-ling” only add to the song’s odd charm.

5. “O Holy Night” – Silver & Gold

Steven’s livens up an old standby by adding group vocals and a familiar blend of instruments. The track continually builds to an animated climax and then drops to a simple yet powerful end.

6. “Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” – Songs for Christmas

This track off of Songs for Christmas captures the essence to a family Christmas, speaking of sisters cutting bangs by themselves, closed K-marts and watching TV at home. “Come On!” paints a picture of a fun-filled, slightly dysfunctional family coming together for Christmas.

7. “X-mas Spirit Catcher” – Silver & Gold

“X-mas Spirit Catcher” seems to tell the story of Jesus’s life and death in a very roundabout way, but what sticks with you is the tracks frantic pace. Steven’s frenetic backing vocals give the song a punchy feel that will have you feeling festive in no time.

8. “Ave Maria (feat. Cat Martino)” – Silver & Gold

Cat Martino’s lazily roving vocals are a perfect addition to this dreamy track. The track is a nice calm interlude on a cold Christmas night.

9. “Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!” – Songs for Christmas

If your Christmas wasn’t feeling angsty enough, this is the song for you. An intimate duet is juxtaposed with powerful guitars, making for a deceptively sweet track about enjoying Christmastime with a significant other.  

10. “The Carol of St. Benjamin the Bearded One” – Silver & Gold

Starting out with a unique rendition of “Carol of the Bells”, light on the bells, “The Carol of St. Benjamin the Bearded One” later transitions into a beautiful, melancholy song about a made-up saint and the conflict between the emotional and commercial visions of Christmas.


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