Toronto cabaret performer Ryan G. Hinds loves the glitter and warmth of Christmas but not its soundtrack. “Bad Christmas music is a great way to torture your guests,” he laughs. Hinds once endured James Brown’s “Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto” at a party and don’t get him started on what Christmas has done to Barbra Streisand: “All these Christian carols when she’s the biggest Jew ever! It’s sad.”
“There’s so much heinous music out there it overwhelms the good stuff,” Hinds says but he recommends “A Christmas Cornucopia” by Annie Lennox. “It’s so pretty and not overly Christmassy — nice traditional music that sets the mood without all the clichés.”
“As an adult,” Hinds says, “Santa Claus imagery just makes me sad because I don’t believe any more.” Religious holiday music, he says, “is easier to connect to somehow. We may have walked away from it (or been driven away from it) but the old feelings are still there. ‘O Holy Night’ brings back memories of going to church with my family and I like that.”
For me, there’s no better Christmas music than the sugar-frosted jazz Vince Guaraldi composed for the classic Charlie Brown Christmas special but, should I wander near Hinds’ church, I do love this version of ‘O Holy Night” from an odd source: the soundtrack to Home Alone. Composer John Williams found a children’s choir that really makes the carol a thing of beauty. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas, Ryan!