Merry Synthmas! 5 Holiday Classics

US Obscure synth ditties for your festivities      20/12/23

Merry Synthmas! 5 Holiday Classics

Don't worry, we won't ruin your perfect run of #whamageddon greatness. In fact, there won't be any really well-known Christmas songs mentioned here, but they will all feature synthesizers, so lets get started.

1. Bob & Doug McKenzie - Twelve Days of Christmas

Okay, good day, this is our Christmas part of the album
And you can play this at your Christmas parties, uh

Jettisoning the usual "partridge in a pear tree" for items like beer, turtle necks and "three french toast", this heart-warming rendition should give you a chuckle. The somewhat muddled introductory monologue (over howling wind) gives way to delightful beat-box drums, synthesized french horns and magical little sample-and-hold flourishes. The delightfully earnest and heavily reverberant backing vocals add a touch of class to proceedings.


2. R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Yep, there was a Star Wars Christmas Album, no, I didn't know either, and no, it doesn't disappoint! Apparently, a 15 year old Jon Bon Jovi sang lead on this, but synth fans will no doubt gravitate towards the droid's usual ARP 2600-generated bleeps & bloops!


3. Erasure - She Won't Be Home

LOVE THAT SNARE, It pops so 1988 it hurts! This song is unmistakably Erasure - the syncopated synth chords power a song that feels both festive and melancholy. There's some lovely Christmas bells and the nostalgic harmonies are beautifully done - I'm not sure why this isn't played more on the radio at Christmas time?


4. Alison Moyet - The Coventry Carol

Of course, the vocals on this track are sublime, but I appreciate the juxtaposition of old & new (well, new in 1987) within this piece. An accurately-arranged 16th century Christmas Carol is reimagined with sparse percussion, Fairlight Aah's, and plenty of subtle background ambience. One I could get lost in for days.


5. Lisi - My Silent Night

Rabbit hole time? In 1981, Ze Records released the first ever alternative Christmas album. One of the featured songs, The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (which is the greatest Christmas song ever btw - Paulee) became an evergreen festive hit, but the rest of the album makes for interesting listening; especially if you are tired of the usual Christmas fodder. My Silent Night takes the original melody (which has been simplified a little) and super imposes it, in a slightly out-of-time manner, over what sounds like 1981's take on the mid-tempo Dawless eurorack jam.

The key never changes, there are weird modulated sounds, and the whole thing becomes a sort of meditative experience. Just be careful, you might fall into a trance and wake up on boxing day.

I'd also recommend listening to the scathing Cristina - Things Fall Apart and Charlie Couture - Christmas Fever. They're not particularly synthy, but they do rock! From everyone at Sonic State, We Wish You a Happy, Healthy, Safe Christmas. xxx

Posted by MagicalSynthAdventure an expert in synthesis technology from last Century and Amiga enthusiast.

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