It’s Christmas time and as politically incorrect as that may be (as opposed to saying ‘The Holiday Season’), this time, we’re asking questions about Christmas and holiday songs over the years (and decades). Score yourself 10 points for each correct answer and see how close you can come to 100%. Answers, as always, are below the final question.
1. This Christmas album has since become a classic, but at the time of its original release (November 22, 1963), it crashed and burned, through no fault of its own. The death of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on that date far overshadowed everything else that was going on in the world. The album featured different artists singing their versions of Christmas songs. It was produced by a legendary 60’s producer, who’s recently fallen from grace. Do you know the original title of this album?
2. “White Christmas” can be heard everywhere this time of year. It’s been sung by The Drifters, Dean Martin, The Supremes, Otis Redding, New Kids On The Block, Michael Bolton, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and dozens more, including Bob Marley. The earliest version was sung by Bing Crosby. Can you name the movie in which “White Christmas” was originally sung?
3. In 1958, a number one Christmas novelty was performed by Simon, Theodore and Alvin. What was the group name of these three that was listed on the original 45 rpm record?
4. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” are the opening lyrics to an iconic Christmas song. It’s been covered by hundreds of performers, but can you name the writer? He’s a world famous jazz singer and was the obsession of the character of Judge Harry Stone on the hit TV series “Night Court” which aired from 1984 until 1992 and is still in reruns today.
5. Band Aid started a trend in 1984 with the charity record, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The 1985 Canadian contribution to African famine relief, featuring a plethora of famous Canadian musical performers collectively known as Northern Lights For Africa, was called “Tears Are Not Enough”. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie co-wrote America’s contribution, which was sung by Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen among many others. Do you know the title of the record and the collective name for the American superstars?
6. There are literally dozens of Christmas novelty songs. See how many performers for the following holiday songs you can name.
a. “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”
b. “Snoopy’s Christmas”
c. “The Chanukah Song”
7. Bruce Springsteen is certainly no stranger to the record charts, but ironically, his only number one hit was a Christmas song. Can you name it?
8. The following three Christmas songs were ALL number one hits on the Christmas singles chart. Can you name the performers?
a. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” (There are 2 correct answers)
b. “Step Into Christmas”
c. “Blue Christmas”
9. The Band were a successful mix of Canadian and Arkansas musicians, that included Robbie Robertson (Canadian), Rick Danko (Canadian), Garth Hudson (Canadian), Levon Helm (Arkansas) and Richard Manuel (Canadian). They worked with Arkansas rocker Ronnie Hawkins, then left to work with Bob Dylan. Two of their most famous songs are, “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek”. They released the song, “Christmas Must be Tonight” on their 1977 album “Islands”. Subsequently, The Bands’ Robbie Robertson recorded a solo version of that song that was featured in a 1988 Christmas film starring comedian Bill Murray. Can you name this movie?
10. The Beatles never released a Christmas song while they were still together (although they did record many Christmas messages for their fans and in one of those, they sang the original song, “Christmastime Is Here Again”.) In 1999, Ringo Starr released his Christmas album titled, “I Wanna Be Santa Claus”. Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney recorded classic Christmas songs in the 1970’s that are played every holiday season. Can you name both of these Christmas songs?
1. The 1963 original title of the album was “A Christmas Gift For You From Phillies Records” and it featured Christmas songs from The Ronettes, The Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans and Darlene Love. Over the years, the album has been
re-released many times and in 2003, it was # 142 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
2. “White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin and was featured in nthe 1942 movie, “Holiday Inn”, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. Crosby had the hit version of the song, which has been played year after year. The song has sold some 50 million copies. In 1954, Crosby starred in the film “White Christmas”, which also featured Danny Kaye and George Clooney’s aunt, Rosemary Clooney.
3. Simon, Theodore and Alvin were The Chipmunks. In actual fact, they all were the sped up voices of Ross Bagdasarian, who went by the stage name of David Seville. The songs full title was “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late”)
3. "The Christmas Song” was co-written by jazz great Mel Torme, nicknamed ‘The Velvet Fog’ (although Torme himself detested it). Mel co-wrote “The Christmas Song” with Bob Wells. During his career, Torme wrote some 250 songs. He was also an accomplished actor and appeared on “Night Court” 9 times. Mel Torme died on June 5, 1999.
4. USA For Africa was the name of the superstar singers. The title of the song was “We Are The World” and it went to number one on Billboards’ Hot 100 chart on April 13, 1985 where it remained for four weeks. The producer of “We Are The World” was Quincy Jones.
5. The answers to the novelty Christmas song quiz are:
a. Patsy and Elmo sang “Grandma Got Run Over by A Reindeer”
b, The Royal Guardsmen sang “Snoopy’s Christmas”
c. Saturday Night Live alum and movie star Adam Sandler sang
“The Chanukah Song’.
7. Some of Bruce Springsteens’ Top Ten chart hits have included “Hungry Heart”, “Dancing In The Dark”, “Born In The U.S.A.”, “Glory Days”, “The Streets of Philadelphia”, but his only number one single happened in December of 1985 with “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”.
8. a. For “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”, the two correct answers are Bruce Springsteen and The Jackson 5
b. “Step Into Christmas” was sung by Elton John
c. Did anyone NOT know that “Blue Christmas” was by Elvis Presley?
9. “Christmas Must be Tonight” was featured in the movie and the soundtrack for the Bill Murray Christmas movie, “Scrooged”, which is a relatively modern adaptation of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Carol”.
10. In 1971, John Lennon released “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” under the name John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band. Paul McCartney released his holiday conribution, “Wonderful Christmastime” in 1984. Both are play constantly around this time of year.