Mad Men Christmas
With a few notable exceptions, the best versions of Christmas songs were set down before the ’70s. The marketing executives at AMC realized that this would be a perfect tie-in with Mad Men and created a nice little Christmas CD to provide Target shoppers with the perfect mix of joy and melancholy, much like the show itself does.
Like the show, the CD starts out with “A Beautiful Mine” by RJD2. It’s a bit strange hearing the song go on longer than the usual snippet used in the opening credits. It’s also a bit strange to realize that “A Beautiful Mine” is over five minutes long, and pretty much repeats the part viewers are familiar with, with a bit of heavy percussion there in the middle.
But that’s not what people are listening for in a Christmas CD. They’re looking for some staples, possibly a few newer songs, and an overall theme or mood. Mad Men Christmas ably delivers.
The newer songs are Jessica Pare’s version of “Zou Bisou Bisou,” here remixed by IAMX. Turned into a space-age exotica outing, you can pretend to be a dismayed and uncomfortable Don Draper at your next holiday party while this plays. Nellie McKay does a wistful version of “Christmas Waltz” with subtle instrumentation. Hitting just the right notes of sadness and hope, McKay turns the little-known Christmas tune into her own.
The rest of the CD is stocked with era-appropriate heavy hitters. You’ve got Dean Martin doing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Tony Bennett with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and Johnny Mathis singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Not always the Christmas songs associated with the performers, but they work well, and add a freshness to the mix.
Rosemary Clooney’s intro to “White Christmas” will strike a chord with those of us in warmer climates, and Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas Baby” delivers a soulful take on the season. And if we have to have a novelty song, Teresa Brewer’s version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is a good one to include.
Wrapping up with Vince Guaraldi’s spooky “Christmas Time is Here,” Mad Men Christmas will fit in nicely with your other holiday favorites. A nice balance of Christmas cheer and end of the year melancholy, Mad Men Christmas is exclusive to Target, and a good sampler of the era’s Christmas tunes.