I couldn't help myself, I really couldn't. The minute I heard this song it's like I was enlightened. (LOL) I'll try to be back later today for a MuCore recap, but no promises. It's Saturday today, errands day. We'll see.
(continue reading for the edits)
Christmas songs are all about familiarity, about good memories from the past Christmases. They are one of the best examples of the fact that music is half-heard and half-felt -- hearing a Christmas song should make you warm and fuzzy and, well, Christmassy. And how do you do that? With familiarity. Familiar melodies, familiar instruments, chymes and bells, anything that *feels* like Christmas. Why do you think Ray Conniff arrangements/albums still sell big? Because they're familiar, because people already equate them to Christmas.
Christmas songs are as familiar as they are fresh, and so if you try too much to change the arrangements, you lose the feel, and I think I've made it very clear that the feel is everything when it comes to these songs. Pop songs are usually like that - they try too hard to deviate from the formula, but they fail to realize that once you deviate from that formula, you deviate from Christmas. And aren't you making a Christmas song in the first place?
The best Christmas songs are those that can take the formula, take the familiarity, and keep it, while delivering something that much more fresh. Let's just say that "Winter Rose" is exactly that.
The song has this sweeping melody, and it's in waltz-time. WALTZ-TIME. Christmas songs are not just in standard 2-4 or 4-4 time, some of them have really whacked out time signatures, actually. I know. Like I said, I've sung Handel's Messiah a gazillion times. You think he stuck with 4-4 all the way? Hell no!
So the chorus. It's familiar, isn't it? I can't put my finger on exactly what it mirrors, but the time signature mixed with the melody itself are enough to get you all tingly inside. And they're gorgeous. So, so gorgeous. But also, if you were to take this melody alone, without the bells and chymes, it would still actually sound like a Christmas song and not just a random pop song.
The bells, the chymes, THE STRING SECTION, the way they all have a mini-explosion at the chorus when that gorgeous melody takes over, I'm ready to die now. And that middle 8. Holy mother of heaven and earth and maybe even hell that middle 8.
I cannot believe I based this morning's review on what I heard from my crappy MacBook Pro speakers. I cannot believe it. I can't believe I missed what is possibly the most important part of this song - the bass line. You know me, I'm very picky with the intensity of my bass, and when songs become bass-fests they're instantly put on my bad list, but if I hate a certain type of bass, I have to like another, right? Right. As a kid, one of the many things I learned from my dad was that you can identify a song by its bass line, and that, in a noisy crowd, all you have to listen to in a song is the bass line. He was dead-right too.
But what does that have to do with anything? Well, I like very unassuming bass lines, just like the one I didn't hear on my laptop speakers this morning. I *like* looking for the bass line, like what my dad and I used to do to pass time in a noisy restaurant. And I also like bass lines that sound like they were played live then just slapped on to the song with minimal processing. I like REAL bass lines, because they actually have emotion.
The bass line on "Winter Rose" gives the song so much dimension, and it makes it real. Why do you feel all warm and fuzzy? Because you feel real. Because the bass line sets your heart racing. Like I said, Christmas songs are more about what they make you feel than they are about the technical aspects of a song. So close your eyes for a bit and just listen - listen to the real bass line, to the familiar melody, to the gorgeous strings. Don't you feel all nice and warm and fuzzy? Mission accomplished, then.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, THE best original pop Christmas song I have ever heard.