By Ukulele Staff
Whether you’re looking for “traditional” arrangements or something with a little more spice, this second week of our 2020 ukulele holiday songs playlist has something for you. This week includes the U3 ukulele trio (Cynthia Lin, Abe Lagrimas Jr., and Ukulenny), YouTuber Patrick Carroll, the incomparable Taimane, and James Hill with Anne Janelle. Check out week one here.
‘Christmastime Is Here’ by U3 Ukulele Trio
This video for “Christmastime Is Here” from ukulele supergroup U3 features Cynthia Lin playing uke and singing, Abe Lagrimas Jr. playing lead uke, and Ukulenny holding down the low end on a Kala U-bass. Professionally shot video synced to the studio recording, it’s hard not to love this soothing rendition. Cynthia’s vocal styling works so well with this tune, and Abe’s solo hints at jazz enough to keep things interesting, but not enough to veer away from the traditional tune. But perhaps the most heartwarming part of this recording is Ukulenny’s bass. It’s so round and full you might think it was an upright, but in fact it comes from an instrument barely larger than the arms playing it. That glockenspiel in the beginning is a nice touch that lingers tastefully throughout the tune.
‘Last Christmas’ by Patrick Carroll
I’ll start off with what you might be asking first: No, this cover of Wham’s “Last Christmas” is not by Adam Sandler. Though Patrick Carroll bears a resemblance to the actor and musician’s early years in both appearance and tone, he is not the same guy in “50 First Dates” and “The Hanukkah Song.” His down-to-earth approach—one mic, hanging with his dog on the couch in front of the Christmas tree—is charming enough to keep us watching this simple strummed version of the catchy ‘80s holiday tune. But as is so often the case, the adorable pet really steals the show.
‘Greensleeves/God Rest Ye Gentlemen’ by Taimane
Deftly plucking her 5-string (doubled G) ukulele and accompanied by acoustic guitar, Taimane injects some spice into these traditional English melodies. As she demonstrates in the video, these aren’t stiff ballroom dance numbers—these are tunes that will have you flowing freely in bare feet. There’s some flamenco influence here, but Taimaine’s recognizable style is what comes through most. Recorded for Hi Sessions, which specializes in Hawaiian music, the sound and camera work is top quality.
‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’ by James Hill and Anne Janelle
James Hill’s strummed soprano uke looks tiny in comparison to Anne Janelle’s cello in this video, but it’s sound is big enough to hold up to those bowed strings, as well as the duo’s harmonized vocals in this one-take rendition of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.” It’s got an Americana-vibe to it that, while simple, really tugs at the heartstrings. The crackle of your fireplace would round out the percussion section nicely.