Category Archives: Cool Yule

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

White Christmas: The 10 Best Versions

Billboard Magazine
10 Best Versions of ‘White Christmas’
by Xavier Piedra
11/30/2018

Bette Midler - White Christmas

“White Christmas” is known for being one of the most covered songs of all time. The track was originally written by Irving Berlin in 1942, and since then has become the world’s best-selling single of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

With so many covers by dozens of artists, it’s hard to keep track of which versions of the song do the original track justice. To make things a little more easier for you, here are our picks for some of the best covers of ‘White Christmas’ to play at your next holiday gathering. Read More

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

‘Mele Kalikimaka’: A Holiday Humblebrag

The Atlantic
‘Mele Kalikimaka’: A Holiday Humblebrag
BY LENIKA CRUZ
December 20, 2015

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There are two ways to interpret the lyrics of “Mele Kalikimaka,” the 1949 classic Christmas tune that’s been covered by everyone from the Honolulu-born Bette Midler to Seth McFarlane. The first is to view the song through the lens of aloha, a Hawaiian word that essentially means love, peace, joy, and compassion. That is, the well-wishers are simply sharingtheir culture with non-islanders.After all, this feeling of warmth and hospitality comes through in Bing Crosby’s version with The Andrews Sisters, perhaps the most famous and beloved cover(Crosby’s voice is basically synonymous with the sound of Christmas, anyway). It’s there in the slower, sleepier, and lesser-known version by Don Ho, the Hawaiian singer better known for his song “Tiny Bubbles.”

The second interpretation finds a bit more quiet hubris in the lyrics, which have an undeniably humblebrag-y component to them:

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas day
That’s the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway

Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun will shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say Merry Christmas to you

Those words—softened by the gentle, dreamy twang of the ukulele, by the peppy cadence—come off as a challenge, even if unwittingly. What, the song might as well ask, exactly is so great about your “White Christmas”?

Because you know what else is white and many orders of magnitude better than snow? Sandy beaches.

Even if its intent is totally pure, “Mele Kalikimaka” at least lays bare the winter-weather masochism endorsed by other holiday songs—most of which can’t even bring themselves to fully gloss over the unpleasant reality that is subzero temperatures:

“Winter Wonderland” acknowledges that, though snow is “thrilling,” that won’t stop your nose from getting “a chilling.”

“Oh the weather outside is frightful / but the fire is so delightful.” Translation: Cold is bad. Warm is good!

“Baby It’s Cold Outside Read More

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cool Yule – Rockefeller Center – Bette Midler

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bette Midler Talks About ‘Cool Yule’ 2006

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Bette Midler

It was a dark and stormy night…no, that’s not right!  Actually, it was a sunny summer day when I finally decided to knuckle down to do a Christmas album.  I had recorded “White Christmas” with Barry Manilow, on our tribute to Rosemary Clooney, and it reminded me of how much I love that music, and how much a part of American life those songs had become, even for this Jew.

I worked with Robbie Buchanan again (he had played keyboards in the band featured in “The Rose” and was my music director when I went on my only world tour), and we had a great time.  He called in wonderful arrangers, including Jonathan Tunick, William Ross, and Patrick Williams, and we tried very hard to achieve a warm, familiar sound…the kind of sound that transports one to a much simpler time.

Working with Johnny Mathis was a thrill and a shock.  He arrived in a big white fur coat, chewing gum, looking exactly as he has for the last 50 years!  I looked older than him!!  You can imagine how that white fur flew.  And when he opened his mouth, it really was as though time had stood still; the same timbre, the same tone I remembered swooning to in 1955.  The result is a medley of Winter Wonderland, and Let it Snow, which still gives me goosebumps.  How does he do it?

Before I got the answer, he was out the door, and I had to tackle Mele Kalikimaka, a song from my childhood, and one of my favorite songs on this record. Jonathan Tunick’s wacky arrangement that suits the song down to the ground, and swings it into outer space.

Speaking of swing, the title track was inspired by the great Louis Armstrong, who cut the first version of the song.  I have been a fan of all things Louis for years; I have even visited his museum/home in Corona, New York.  The whole house is brilliant, but the turquoise kitchen is to die.

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Looking back, a great time was had by all.  Add to that a wonderfully silly video, a red feather hat, and some fake snow, and  you have my offering for the season, and my best wishes for the coolest of Yules…

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