One year ago today I was sit in my room, hungover, on a comedown, confused, upset, worried and generally “not in a great place”. On the fourth of July last year I spent the day with my friends; enjoying the sunshine and getting very drunk. It was a great night which I blogged about – but I missed out some of the background details of that time; details that were not fun, or joyous, or celebratory, and therefore had no place on my blog.
A Christmas Song For Somebody
I’ve written a lot of songs for people in my life. I’ve written some songs for people that aren’t in my life, and some songs for people I’ll never meet but have impacted my life in a big way anyway. I’ve written songs for friends, lovers, exes, family, idols, teachers. But as far as I can remember, nobody has ever asked me to write a song for them. This Christmas, somebody asked me to write them a song. I gave myself half an hour and sat down and wrote a song. This is the song for somebody.
Blue Blue World
Here’s another song I wrote. It’s odd recounting a lot of this songs because of the real life outcomes, but I’m glad I’m doing it. If I’m honest, I feel like a lot of this year has been a brick wall.
I purposely recorded this song with a moving tempo because I wanted it to feel a bit lopsided and crooked. James reckons it just sounds like I don’t know what I’m doing. I will re-record it.
For Under the Mistletoe
If I was a full-time blogger I would have photographed my record player covered in tinsel (it’s red and white anyway), but I’m not, so you’ll have to trust me. This is kind of a weird title for a blog post but hear me out! We’re all very familiar with Christmas music as it’s been blaring out of most shops since August, but there are some absolutely cracking tunes out there that don’t get enough airplay and I’d like to introduce them to you.
Seeing as my job for about 3 months has been curating the best Christmas songs for this event I thought I’d share some of the underrated festive (and suggestive) hits. I’ve also made a playlist featuring these songs as well as youtube links for individual songs in this post, so if you have Spotify you can listen and save along. So here we go with the top bangers for banging! (Sorry)
The Man With The Bag – Jane Monheit
This isn’t the original version, but it’s certainly my favourite. Jane has quite a soft voice and her cool delivery on a relatively fussy tune makes for a song full of anticipation. Perfect for a cheeky party peck.
The Christmas Song – Chicago
Lay those funk grooves down, boys!! This is such an overproduced arrangement of this song but I LOVE it! It’s so different from the original and there are some banging horn lines on this track. A good one for all those festive lounge parties you’ll be hosting in your penthouse flat. (?)
Back Door Santa – Clarence Carter
I don’t know if it’s the overly suggestive lyrics (“I ain’t like the Old Saint Nick… he don’t come but once a year”), the sleazy horns, the fat funk guitar in the background or the honky-tonk keyboard… but this song is SO hot. It’s just an absolute banger of a song. I’ll actually be singing this on Sunday (for Quizmas) in full bed voice, so wish me luck with those frustrated growl sounds! *gulp*
I’ll Be Home For Christmas – The Carpenters
It basically invites you under the mistletoe, it’s that sweet and coy. Believe me, as somebody who has studied Disney music to academic level over the last 7 years, the production on this value of the popular festive ballad is PURE 50s Disney. The choir, the high winds and strings, the percussion. It sounds like it’s from a vintage Disney Christmas film that never got made. Add in Karen’s super-sultry voice and it’s a Christmas winner.
This Christmas – Donny Hathaway
I love this song. Donny has the best voice ever, or at least one of the sexiest voices ever. It’s so warm! His voice is like a brandy for the soul: add in how desperately he wants to have a good christmas with you and his talk of “carolling” through the night and it’s just a deeply sensual christmas tune. Cracking horn line too. This is another one I’ve been learning for Sunday so let’s REALLY cross our fingers I can channel my inner goddess for the whole set!
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Pearl Bailey & Hot Lips Page
Before you skip over this really overplayed/over-covered song, give this 1949 recording a go. It is HILARIOUS, I absolutely love it. There’s just so much character and atmosphere in the song! The ad-libs from both performers are hilarious, and Pearl is just such a sassy broad (there’s no other word for it) that it really makes the song. There are several times they almost miss the cue to sing because of the crazy improv over the top. I think my favourite bit is right at the end where she says “I don’t got no fur coat or nothing, I really can’t”, and then about 10 seconds later “I’ll tell her to go about her business” with a clear smirk. Brilliant.
Ole Santa – Dinah Washington
Dinah can’t help but sound sultry, and though this song is ostensibly about waiting for Santa to arrive, it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to imagine Dinah, dressed in feathered gown, sat at the dressing table and gazing longingly out of the window waiting for her guy to arrive.
Let’s Make Christmas Merry Baby – Amos Milburn
The gentle piano suggest a late-night home alone, the slightly fuzzy production suggest a couple of egg-nogs, and the lyrics suggest… well, what don’t they suggest? He wants to slide our chimney and fill our stockings full of toys! Oh Amos. There’s even a sultry sax solo. It’s all very, very mistletoe.
Dear Mrs Claus – The Barr Brothers
What girl doesn’t want to be wooed at Christmas time? Promises of gifts, holding our hands and distracting the elves for the night, it’s all very sweet and coy. 6/8 is by far the sexiest time signature and the innocent vocal delivery coupled with the humming harmonies in the back, leading into a well-placed guitar solo make this perfect mistletoe fodder. Probably in front of a log fire. Maybe even in matching Christmas pjs. Adultery never seemed so sweet.
I’d Like You For Christmas – Julie London
Julie London has such a soft and sultry voice anyway that she could probably sing the phonebook and it would sound perfect under the mistletoe. But this sweet ballad has some well placed syncopated backing vocals (god knows I love a thought-out backing vocal) and coupled with the high melodies it’s all very intimate and delicate. More of a prolonged smooch than a quick peck under the mistletoe.
Trim Your Tree – Jimmy Butler
This is so, so, so deeply unromantic. But it’s just so hilarious I had to include it in case you hadn’t heard it. The lyrics are ridiculous, the musicians sound like they’re having a ball – the keys player is loving it – and Jimmy is just absolutely going for it on the vocals. Have a sleazy Christmas!
So there you go. A very brief guide to some of my favourite christmas tunes! I haven’t done many music-based posts but this could have been a LOT longer, so let me know if you’d like to hear more.
This is a song I wrote in the summer. Like most of my songs, it’s about a situation I didn’t understand which I mentioned in passing at the time. There was a lot going on. I wrote the lyrics when I was still optimistic about the situation, but I wrote the music later when I knew where I stood.
I thought about typing the full lyrics out into this blog post but I think it’s better to just listen and interpret them yourself. Thank you if you do listen and please let me know what you think!
Day 4 of #Slogmas! Hopefully from tomorrow onwards I’ll get out of the habit of posting these at the end of the day.
Today’s “thing” is not a blog. It is a rough demo of a song. Here you go.
As I said in my post the other week I’ve decided to try and share more of my work! My big focus at the moment is Quizney – a live band karaoke and pub quiz event based on Disney. Our next event is Sunday 15th so it’s Valentines themed (red sequin dress; check) and we’ve moved to a new venue: Proud Camden. It’s one of the more fun places I partied at during my teens so playing there is like closing that little loop in my life!
I’m not the hugest Disney fan in the world so it’s always novel having to immerse myself in the Disney world for each event! Having the chance to study the music in depth is really much more interesting – I studied music for film and musical theatre at Masters Level so analysing the scores and songs of Disney films is hugely satisfying for my inner geek.
Most of my time this week has been based around scheduling promotion, learning the songs, choreographing dances and rehearsing the band. I like to think that despite the poor track record of women writing music for the films (Frozen is the first film to have songs or music written by a woman – Frozen! In 2013!!!) I’m flying the flag by directing and leading the whole night (incidentally the only female in the group). My favourite songs from our upcoming set have to be the Hercules and Aristocats soundtrack – motown and jazz inspired, respectively. They’re just such fun to play!
If you’re in London on the 15th and would like to come then you can get tickets here – you’ll get to hear my host voice…!
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Boarding Pass II
Hello from Heathrow! Almost exactly a year ago I was sat in this very restaurant, blogging in Terminal 3 with James before we went to Mauritius. Whilst we were over there I decided that of all the many things I do my absolute favourite was writing and playing songs, and I should try and carve out more time for that. One year later and I’m off to visit the other half of my family in America for 4 weeks of playing songs!
I love planes and I love New York and I really love seeing my cousins, so the next few weeks should be pretty awesome. It will be the longest time James and I have been apart since we met but seeing as he’s book-ending my trip with lifts to the airport I can’t complain!
I might not be blogging so much but I’ll be around on Instagram (@lailapictures) and Snapchat (@tapeparade) which I’ve recently started using properly (how great is the my story function???), so let’s keep in touch! X