fall out boy

Why Are There No New Christmas Songs?

Christmas time is unique in that it’s the only time of year with designated songs describing the season. I mean I guess you can make a case for Halloween songs, but when it comes to Christmas songs, they can’t really compete. Christmas music is played way more frequently. The thing about Christmas music though is that every year radio stations, stores, malls, and other entities play the same songs on repeat. Unlike music in general, you don’t often hear new songs when it comes to Christmas ones. But why?

It’s not that new songs aren’t being created. Every year there’s probably several new Christmas songs, but apparently it’s difficult to make one popular to the masses. More often you’ll hear modern artists covering traditional Christmas music rather than creating new songs. In fact, the most recent successful Christmas song came out 22 years ago. It was Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Most of you know the song too. It’s now a holiday staple. You can make an argument for others though. *NSYNC’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” came out in 1998. Then there’s Britney Spears’s “My Only Wish” which was released in 1995.You might hear the *NSYNC song throughout the holidays, but it’s rare to hear the Britney one. Mariah still beats them both.

There’s been a couple of artists who have tried to put out a modern Christmas song in more recent years like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, and Meghan Trainor. I bet you didn’t know that unless you’re a huge fan of a particular artist because none of their songs were that successful. I honestly don’t know what their holiday songs are called or how they go. Do you? That’s enough proof to show their lack of success.

I had a few Christmas songs that I listened to during high school and college that were original songs. Those songs weren’t by bands or artists you’d hear on mainstream radio though. A lot of the songs had sad themes too, which aren’t people’s favorite thing to listen to around the holidays (take “Christmas Shoes” for example). One of my favorites was “Forget December” by Something Corporate. The songs was released in 2003 as part of the album A Santa Cause: It’s a Punk Rock Christmas, an album that was released to benefit The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in which punk bands created original holiday songs or recorded covers of Christmas classics. The first volume was released in 2003 and a second was released in 2006 to benefit a different charity (Cure Autism Now). A decent portion of those songs were on my Christmas playlist over the years.

Now whether it’s lack of Christmas spirit, a desire for something new, or a combo of both reasons, I don’t listen to Christmas music if I don’t have to (because when you go shopping near the holidays you’re bound to hear it). I haven’t for the last 4-5 years. I haven’t been excited to hear it either, even my old favorite songs. I think the reason for that is because I don’t listen to the same bands that I listened to in high school and college. In general Christmas and its music isn’t as exciting anymore, but especially since modern Christmas music really isn’t a thing. We’re mostly still listening to music that came out decades ago.

Last year, LCD Soundsystem released an original Christmas song, “Christmas Will Break Your Heart”. I listened to it, but I wished it was more upbeat like the songs “Dance Yrself Clean” or “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”. It sounded more like “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” and I just wasn’t feeling it at the time (I do like the song “New York I Love You….” though). I listened to it again last month and I liked it a little better probably due to my renewed love of LCD. That’s the only band I can think of that I like that released an original Christmas song in the past few years.

If more indie pop/rock bands released some Christmas songs, I might actually find a renewed taste for Christmas music. It would also be pretty sweet if an electronic artist did one too. I can imagine that would create an energetic Christmas vibe. I doubt any of those songs would make it to mainstream listeners though (not that I’d be complaining) so take that as you will.

Maybe one of the closest things to a Christmas song I’ve enjoyed in the last 4-5 years was a combination of a classic Christmas song and a modern day hit that debuted on the TV show The Real O’Neals last Tuesday. They performed O Holy Night and mashed it with Sia’s “The Greatest”. It was the coolest Christmas related musical piece I’ve heard in a while. It blended an old religious holiday ballad and a newly released non-Christmas single perfectly. It got me so hyped last week when they cut into the carol and started singing Sia. I’ve been promoting it ever since and I wish they recorded a full version.

Something like that gives me hope that maybe soon enough we’ll have more modern Christmas songs so we can stop listening to Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, or even Mariah Carey. I know many people may not want to, but I’ve never been part of the majority. Here’s a few newer-ish original Christmas songs to listen to if you’re looking for something more modern:

  1. Forget December -Something Corporate (2003)
  2. Yule Shoot Your Eye Out -Fall Out Boy (2003)
  3. I Won’t Be Home For Christmas -Blink-182 (2003)
  4. This Time of Year -The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (2003)
  5. Icicles -Punchline (2003)
  6. City Trucks -Paper Route (2006)
  7. My Christmas List -Simple Plan (2001)
  8. Right Where You Want Me To Be -A Day to Remember (2010)
  9. Christmas Will Break Your Heart -LCD Soundsystem (2015)
  10. Not Giving In -Rediscover (2006)
  11. The Christmas Song -Owl City (2008)
  12. Christmas Gifts -Foxes (2009)
  13. Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass -All Time Low (2011)
  14. The Lights and Buzz -Jack’s Mannequin (2005)
  15. Merry Frickin’ Christmas -Frickin’ A (2004)

Also here is the O Holy Night/Sia Mashup from The Real O’Neals.

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When I Say Shotgun, You Say Wedding

I’m always surprised when I hear about bands that I liked in high school still being relevant in the music world. I know most of those bands are still out there making music. Just because I don’t listen to their music or follow them anymore doesn’t mean they cease to exist. What really surprises me though is when those bands reach a level of success greater than the level I knew them at. For instance, take Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Sure, I guess I can argue that the band is new, but Andrew McMahon is no stranger to music. He was the front man for indie punk band Something Corporate and then for Jack’s Mannequin. He even sang about his SoCo life (“been around the world in a punk rock band”) in the Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness hit “Cecilia and the Satellite”. Despite ventures with two different bands who were well-known in their respective scenes, he never bridged the mainstream gap until Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Now another band from my high school years has my attention.

I first heard about this band, by the name of Panic! at the Disco when I was a junior in high school. I got their debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which was released in September 2005, around the time I got my driver’s license. Their debut was the soundtrack to my early driving days where I gained and maintained the independence a driver’s license offers. It played as I drove to pick up friends, grab some Burger King, or take drives on a long strip of road in a nearby town known as The Ave.The first song of theirs that caught my attention was “Time to Dance”. I downloaded a demo version of the song that was different from the album version and received some attention from friends who recognized the distinction. I listened to both versions anyway and loved the rest of the songs too.

Panic! at the Disco was founded in 2004 by childhood friends, Ryan Ross and Spencer Smith, while they were still in high school in a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada. They recruited friend, Brent Wilson to join and Wilson encouraged his classmate, Brendon Urie to join the band as well. Initially the group started out as a blink-182 cover band, but then they recorded three original songs. They decided to send Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz a link to their Purevolume account just for the hell of it, but the tables turned in their favor. Wentz liked what he heard. He met the band and asked them to sign with his very own Decaydence Records (now known as DCD2), an imprint of Fueled By Ramen, which Fall Out Boy was signed with. They signed with Wentz before even playing a live show, which came a few month before their first album was released.

Their debut album had a slow rise to the top, but in a way Panic! at the Disco needed that. They needed to learn how to be a band. They all recently graduated high school (aside from Ross who dropped out of college to focus on music) and were still young kids. In March of 2006, the band announced a headlining tour and by August of that year the album was certified platinum and their single “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” won Video of the Year at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. Pretty amazing for a bunch of teenagers right? However the Panic! at the Disco who had that crazy rise to fame isn’t the same Panic! at the Disco that exists today.

Over the past 11 years the band has had plenty of turnover. Lead vocalist, Brendon Urie is the only founding member still in the band. There’s various reasons for that though. Creative differences was one of the reasons. I totally understand this because the band’s sound has changed drastically from its debut album.

Their first record has an electronic dance punk sound. Their second record Pretty Odd, released on March 21, 2008, sounds like something you’d hear from the Beatles. It was a drastic change in sound. It was one that I, as a huge fan of their first album, wasn’t happy about. I remember looking forward to their sophomore album, but while listening to it for the first time I was confused as to who I was actually listening to because it didn’t sound like them at all. It resulted in my disinterest in the band from then on.

The band released 3 more albums since Pretty. Odd.: Vices & Virtues (2011), Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! (2013), and most recently Death of a Bachelor, which came out in January of 2016. Now Panic! at the Disco’s sound falls into the pop rock genre. I have to admit as a fan of early Panic! at the Disco, their most recent album sounds more like their debut than the second album did. The only consistent thing throughout their five albums is Urie’s signature vocals.

Now back to the first paragraph of this blog when I was saying how it surprises me when bands I used to listen to in high school reach a level of success greater than the one I knew them at. Yesterday I was looking at upcoming concerts on the Bandsintown app, my go-to app for upcoming concerts and music events. I was looking into Saint Motel’s future shows as an idea for a Christmas present for my mom who happens to be a Saint Motel fan. I saw they were playing a few shows next year nearby, but the shows were in arenas. For a band like Saint Motel, that’s not the norm. I figured they must be opening for someone so I did some research to see who they were opening for. Turns out they’re opening for Panic! at the Disco on their Death of a Bachelor Tour. I couldn’t believe it. Only a few of the shows are sold out (who knows if they’re true sell outs or not) as of right now, but it still floored me that this band is currently able to play arena sized venues especially since I haven’t heard of Panic! at the Disco making much noise since “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”. Actually, the last time Brendon Urie came into my life was over the past year at Coachella 2016 when he joined Halsey on stage as part of her set. Panic! at the Disco must be doing something right though, even if I haven’t noticed it.

If you’re interested in listening to this band, here are some of my favorite songs and a few other good ones by the band who got their name from The Smiths’ song “Panic”:

  1. Time to Dance
  2. The Only Difference Between Martydom and Suicide is Press Coverage
  3. I Write Sins Not Tragedies
  4. Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off
  5. Victorious
  6. But It’s Better If You Do
  7. Nine in the Afternoon

Warped

For 7 years from age 16 to age 22, I attended the Vans Warped Tour every summer. I remember finding out about Warped Tour when I was 15 from a friend in high school. It was at the time when I first discovered alternative music. Every year Warped Tour also releases a compilation album containing one song from every artist on that year’s tour. I became super interested in a few songs on the 2003 compilation that my friend had. That’s when she explained to me what the Vans Warped Tour was. I decided to purchase the 2003 compilation for myself and I was stoked to get the 2004 album upon its release (this was in the spring of 2004). More importantly I was extremely interested in going to Warped Tour that summer. Much to my dismay though, the tour wasn’t coming to my hometown. The closest venue that hosted the tour was 1 hour and 40 minutes away. At age 15, without a driver’s license and a car, it just wasn’t happening for me that summer. When the 2005 dates were announced a few months after the 2004 tour finished, I was pumped. The Vans Warped Tour was coming to my local concert venue and there was no way I was missing it.

Warped Tour began in 1995 as a skate punk/ska festival. It was founded by Kevin Lyman. In 1996, the skate shoe manufacturer and clothing brand, Vans, became the tour’s main sponsor. The Vans Warped Tour is the longest running touring festival in North America and the largest touring festival in the United States. In the late 90’s, the tour even went overseas to play dates in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Europe. It returned overseas to play a date in London in 2012 and again in 2015. Through the years, Warped Tour expanded on its music genres to include pop-punk, hardcore, emo, screamo, metalcore, and even some hip-hop and pop bands and artists. Many bands like Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, and Paramore, got their start on the Warped Tour. There’s even one notable pop artist who got her start on Warped Tour, but I’ll tell you more about it as you read on. It’s been said that Warped Tour is an initiation of sorts for bands because its a non-stop, all day touring event with many other bands that goes across the country over the entire summer. It’s intense to say the least, but from what I hear, tons of fun too. From the perspective of an attendee, it’s also fun for the festival-goers.

I attended my first Warped Tour in 2005.  I went with two friends and my mom because of course at age 16 I clearly wasn’t old enough to attend a music event with a chaperone (*sarcasm*). I also didn’t have my driver’s license by then so it worked out to have her as a ride. One thing different about Warped Tour compared to other music festivals is that you never know the lineup until the day of the festival. When you arrive you have to locate the giant board of set times and make a list of when and where your favorite bands are playing. It was always the craziest part of the day because everyone goes to that board upon entry. It gets so crowded on the way to there. At least I knew about the board in advance in 2005 despite being a Warped Tour rookie. That year I saw Fall Out Boy (only some of their set because Relient K overlapped), Relient K, The Offspring, and The Starting Line. I also planned to see Something Corporate, but they cancelled all their dates. It was the year their lead singer, Andrew McMahon (now of Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness and formerly of Jack’s Mannequin too), was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment. I still had the best time and knew from then on I would be making Warped Tour an annual event in my life.

I had some amazing times throughout 7 Warped Tours. I saw tons of my favorite bands play, sang my lungs out, skanked in skanking circles (ska music), considered crowd-surfing (although I never actually did), drank overpriced water and gatorade (hydration was always important), was involved in a torrential downpour, and even saw Katy Perry play. Yeah that’s right Katy Perry played Warped Tour in 2008! Told you I’d tell you more about that pop star who got her start on Warped Tour. Well, it was Katy Perry. It was while she had the “I Kissed a Girl” single out. My friends and I were resting and talking in the amphitheater a decent length away from the stage where a performance was happening and all of sudden I heard the “I Kissed a Girl” song. We realized we were relaxing during Katy Perry’s set. We watched the rest of the song, which happened to be her last one. Thinking back on it now, it’s kind of crazy to be able to say I saw Katy Perry play Warped Tour given the level of popularity she’s reached, but I did. It happened.

I could go on about Warped Tour. My memories of the festival are countless. I could tell you about the time I skipped The Bouncing Souls set for Four Year Strong and missed the first words to “Lean On Sheena” getting screamed in my friends’ faces (it was our song), or watching Hellogoodbye and all their friends parade around in costumes during their set, or skanking to my favorite Less Than Jake song in a giant skanking circle. One year a friend who I attended with asked me if I thought we would still attend Warped Tour as we got into our 20’s and 30’s like some of the older people we would see at the festival. My response was something along the lines of, “Hell yeah! Why wouldn’t we?” At the time, I never thought I’d stop liking Warped Tour style music or wanting to attend the festival. I guess I was wrong about that though.

I attended yearly through 2011. I almost went in 2012 as well but decided against it because I didn’t feel like getting rained on again in the festival like I did in 2008 (plus I would have been going alone). That ended my 7 year Warped Tour run and I haven’t been back since. The reason being is that I stopped listening to the type of bands that play Warped Tour. I grew and so did my music interests. The last year I attended I could tell it was already happening. There were less and less bands I was interested in seeing. My focus instead became attending festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Bonnaroo, ones that played the kind of music I was listening to. Warped Tour was my first festival though (“you never forget your first”). It was also my second, third, fourth, and so on. It prepped me for future festivals and gave me plenty of amazing music experiences a long the way. It also gave me many memories with friends who I attended with and met up with at the festival throughout my years of attending. It was the summer event to attend while I was in high school and college. For all those reasons, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

If you’re interested in attending Warped Tour this year or checking out some bands playing the festival, head to the Vans Warped Tour website. Since this isn’t one specific band that plays the Warped Tour and therefore I can’t leave you a list of songs to check out, here’s a few links to some of my favorite Warped Tour performances and some pictures I took during my years attending the event.

“Rooftops” by Mest, Warped Tour 2003 (Also one of my all-time favorite songs.)

“The Words ‘Best Friend’ Becomes Redefined” by Chiodos, Warped Tour 2009

“I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry, Warped Tour 2008

“Sugar We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy, Warped Tour 2005

“Bada Bing! Wit’ a Pipe!” by Four Year Strong, Warped Tour 2010

“Devotion and Desire” by Bayside, Warped Tour 2009