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Monday, December 15, 2014

Battle of the Bands: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town




          Christmas is almost here and Santa has made his ubiquitous presence known throughout much of a world who believes in him.   The guy is like a superhero--or a god.  What a power and what a universal symbol of the Christmas season.  And it's  time for my second Christmas installment of Battle of the Bands, the blogging event first introduced by our friends at Far Away Series and  StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th and conveniently these days fall on Mondays this December.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action 

        As I did in my previous BOTB segment I'm racking my brain to figure out why the initials "JC" seem to be such an important part of Christmas.  Santa Claus is "SC" so it's not him even though he seems to have become the most iconic presence of the season.  Plenty of songs have been written about Santa.  In this Battle I offer one of the most well known--"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town".


Jo Ann Castle "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town Boogie" (1985)

      As a boy and into my teenage years I had a crush on Jo Ann Castle, the ragtime piano playing sweetie from the Lawrence Welk Show.  Yes, I will admit that I was a regular viewer of that iconic broadcast of senior citizenry and bubbly champagne music.  After all I grew up on this show that introduced me to some of my first loves--the ever charming Lennon Sisters.   Jo Ann Castle struck me even more with her effervescent personality and energetic piano playing.   I could have sworn she was flirtatiously looking right through the television screen at me in my living room.

       There's a darker side to the Jo Ann Castle story that I won't go into in this post, but you can read more by clicking on the link on her name above in the subtitle of this section.  I'd rather keep this post light and in keeping with the happy holiday spirit.   Here she is with that Christmas Santa favorite performed in her inimitable style.   You might have to watch this video if you aren't familiar with Jo Ann Castle just to get an idea of how she did what she did so well.



Cimorelli "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"  (2012)

      With six Cimorelli sisters in the line-up I figured that at least one of them would have a first name that begins with the letter "J".   I was wrong so I guess I'll cheat on this pick.   Maybe we can say that this version of  "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" is somewhat similar to an earlier version done by the Jackson 5.   Jackson Cimorelli?   Works for me.

        This is a fun video and these girls have some nice harmonies going on.  Check it out.




Time to Vote!

           Which do you prefer?  Please vote on your favorite or you might end up on Santa's naughty list.   Let us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the one you chose.  Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around.   And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.


FAR AWAY SERIES’ 

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

 ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ 

 DISCCONNECTED’ 

 ‘CREATIVE OUTLET OF STRATPLAYER 


 Alex J. Cavanaugh

           The results of my Battle will be announced on Monday December 22nd.  I'm still dealing with my travels back east to tend to the affairs related to the passing of my mother so posting at Tossing It Out will remain a bit sporadic until after Christmas.   I'm now home, but holidays and a visit by one of my daughters and her family will keep me busy I'd say.   But like the Terminator, "I'll be back". 

          Have I come up with the right "JC" Christmas connection yet?    Are you a fan of the Lawrence Welk Show?   What do you think of sibling singing groups?


56 comments:

  1. Not a fan of Welk at all. My boss in WA was distantly related to him though.

    Did you put your word verif on? It seems like it's on everyone's blogs now; just noticed it over the past week or so. I checked my settings and it's still off.

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  2. Interesting match-up, Lee! Quite the generation gap. :)

    I confess that neither one would be a version that would make my Itunes Christmas mix. But both have things to like about them. The voices in the second are good and they do an interpretation that I associate with Mariah Carey. And Jo Ann Castle certainly gives a spirited ragtime-ish piano version (and WHOA!!! What a life story in that link!!! She was clearly a very troubled soul...).

    Between the two, I think Castle's version has a just little more life and soul, so I vote for her.

    And I also hope you're doing great -- sending you thoughts and prayers!

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  3. Like Chris, neither version does it for me. Too many years of hearing the version from the animated Christmas special. I do prefer it with lyrics, so Cimorelli gets my vote.

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  4. I'm going with Castle's version because it's upbeat. The girls'... well, the harmonies are lovely, but it's just too slow.

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  5. I have to go with the second one but Jo Ann is amazing on the keyboard. The Cimorelli voices are lovely and I like what they do with the song.

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  6. JoJo-- I can't figure out what's with the WV. I've tried to fix it, but it's still on there. I wonder how this happened?

    Chris -- Things are getting back to kind of normal, but busy holiday season ahead I think.

    Alex-- Yeah, the lyrics are kind of vital for this song, but I think the melody holds up well on its own.

    Bish-- No doubt that Jo Ann keeps the beat up!

    Susan GK-- Apparently the Cimorelli sisters have been a hit on YouTube though I'd never heard of them before finding this song version.

    Lee

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  7. JoAnn Castle is so darn happy. You can tell she just loves playing that piano. And I understand why. If I could play that well, I'd be smiling, too. (I didn't read her life story. It sounded like it might be depressing, and I just wasn't up for that.)

    The girls. Well, I don't watch the TV Show, Glee, but I imagine it looks something like that. Normally, a group that brings on the harmonies is gonna win it with me... because I love lyrics and harmonies. So, why didn't these gals ring my bell? Don't really know. Maybe it was the antics of the video. About halfway through I quit watching, because I suspected it was influencing my vote, but it didn't really get better for me. It felt teeny bopper. Maybe that was the problem.

    So, I give this one to Ms. Castle and her tickling of the ivories. It made me smile all the way through... and I think that was the point.

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  8. Tough choice - they are very different. :)) Nice battle, Lee.

    I'm a boogie baby! Watched Welk with my Grandfather when I was small.That's what he called, "tickling the keys!" Go JoAnn!

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  9. I don't care much for that song. I'm not too much of a fan of most secular Christmas songs for that matter.

    Oh, wait a minute! That's not my opinion in the least! Actually, when I used 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' for BOTB #9 back on December 1st, 2013, that's what you told me.

    Change yer tune, Boidman?

    Believe it or not, the phenomenal Jo Ann Castle is not new to me. My Pa told me about her long ago and far away, and I even owned a cassette tape of hers that I played fairly regularly for some time. She's really something on that keyboard. (Reminds me of Squeek Steele a little bit, who used to play in the saloons of Virginia City, NV. and who owns - or owned - the world's record for most number of songs memorized and played by heart.)

    Did I ever tell you that my Aunt Jane is the best friend of one of The Lennon Sisters (I forget which one) and that Lennon Sister offered to let us all come to her house on a whim when my Grandparents' renewed wedding vow party plans fell through? What a classy and generous woman!

    Man, I didn't know ANY of that stuffs about Jo Ann Castle. Pretty sad life she led, despite all that keyboard talent.

    The Cimorelli Sisters version was... eh, eh, and mo' eh. I mean, honestly, to me, there wasn't anything about it that made it stand out from maybe a hundred other recordings of 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'. In fact, my Cutesy-O-Meter maxed out at eleven before I even reached the two-minute mark. A glance at the 3:51 running time and I knew it was time I was running, so I shut it down before the sugar overload shut me down.

    Jo Ann Castle gets my vote in a huge, landslide, non-battle way.

    I sure hope you're feeling better, my friend, and can find a little of the Christmas magic in the season.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  10. Robin-- You need to read that life story and then wonder about her happy look. Maybe it was all just the joy of playing that piano.

    Dixie-- Jo Ann is a boogeying baby.

    Lee


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  11. STMcC:

    Change yer tune, Boidman?

    Not at all. Still not a huge fan of songs about Santa, Snowmen, Reindeer, and such, but if done well they are tolerable to me. I used this Santa song mostly for the symbolism of someone coming in the future and to use the JC of Jo Ann Castle--love her playing.

    Jo Ann Castle must have led one heck of a life according to the brief biography on her. Maybe she looked happy because of the drugs?

    The Cimorelli's are cutesy for sure, but the girls have some talent. We'll see if they have any entertainment future though. Britany Spears and Miley Cyrus started out kind of cutesy too and we see where they went.

    Feeling fine on my part. Getting ready for company and all that goes with that.

    Lee

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  12. LEE ~

    >>... The Cimorelli's are cutesy for sure, but the girls have some talent.

    Yeah, they probably have the talent to give a listener/viewer diabetes. If I wind up with it due to my one minute and fifty-one second exposure to them, I'm going to sue you!

    Be sure to see my response to you at my BOTB. I have a suggestion that might fix your Word Verification problem. (Now I'm going to type "358" into the window so this comment will post.)

    ~ D-FensDogg

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    1. I use the embedded comment format on my other blogs. I changed this one for a reason I now forget. Let me see how this goes. The WV is gone. Thanks.

      Lee

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  13. Of course I listened to Jo Ann Castle first and although I kind of liked it and it was very upbeat (my Daddy played a Ragtime-honkey-tonk piano, so I am partial to it), it somehow just didn't seem very Christmasy.

    Next I listened to those girls and I just could not get into their version. The harmonies are nice and all, but it was a little too cute for my taste.

    So, I went back and listened to Jo Ann again. Between the two I have to give her the vote, even though it just doesn't ring my Christmas Bells. I mean, I like it, but not necessarily for Christmas. Did that make any sense at all?

    As a footnote, I should NOT have gone and read that bio on Ms. Castle. YIKES!

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    1. A lot of the songs in the BOTB don't sound all that Christmasy. What does "Christmasy sound like anyway?

      Castle's story is a scary one that I'd never heard until now.

      Lee

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  14. First off, I only acknowledge the existence of ONE version of this song.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhMNq5Ifa7M

    Part of me says that I should not vote for either of your "pretend" versions....however...

    As much as I would agree that Ms. Castle has some keyboard talent, I have always been partial to the Phil Spector arrangement of the song over the more traditional version you heard as a kid, so I'll cast my vote for the Italian girls!

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    1. Spaghetti at my house for dinner tomorrow night. There will be plenty. Why don't you and the girls come over.

      No comment on the Bruce version. There's always the Chipmunks--don't forget their version.

      Lee

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  15. Oh, I have to Joanne Castle. What a personality and what a piano player!

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    1. Joanne makes me smile every time I watch her play.

      Lee

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    1. So I guess it's the sisters for you.

      Lee

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  17. ooooooooo I would go with Bob Dylan every time. . . .

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    1. Hmmm-- guess that's no vote for this Battle.

      Lee

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  18. I grew up with Bubbles Welk as well and would love to watch Sissy dance with? (Ken-he reminded me of the male Barbie doll) and I loved the black guy dancing who I thought was superb! I am bad not knowing his name. I loved Fred Astaire singing it but he is not here. I am not one for the gals as it reminds me too much of the X Factor. They seem to be cut for these type of shows. The original style of Jo-Ann Castle. She seems so at ease at the piano and puts her own spin on this classic which would go well with Charlie Brown Christmas too. Now I will check out the others as well as read up on her

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    1. Welk was such a classic old school show. We still get reruns on our local PBS station here in L.A. Good nostalgic fun.

      Lee

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  19. OK I read her bio-OMG! I did not know that and what a waste of a talent. I would hope people read the bio after they make their song choice. I hope her remaining children are OK. Who knew all the bad stuff behind this wholesome show

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  20. Guess I'm on Santa's naughty list. Sorry, Lee, but I've just been subjected to two nauseating versions of that song. I don't like either version. As for Lawrence Welk, pass me the barf bucket. And a one and a two...

    What next? The Cowsills?

    Gary

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    1. Actually I like the Cowsills. And I think the Welk show produced some wonnerful talent.

      Lee

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  21. I liked both versions at first, but then the Cimorelli sisters started to get on my nerves. Jo Ann Castle deserves the win for her masterful piano playing. She actually made it look effortless.

    Julie

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    1. I'm a sucker for chirpy fun entertainment--not always, but at times. I think the Cimorellis would have fit in well with the Lawrence Welk format.

      Lee

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  22. Not to keen on either as I have never heard of them before,
    Have heard better version,

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    1. I thought you might at least have enjoyed the ragtime piano boogie version.

      Lee

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  23. My mom forced us to watch Lawrence Welk show. *coughs* I didn't always hate it.

    Both these versions of Santa is coming are fun and well done. Those girls have great voices.

    But the piano is probably my first love, and Jo Ann sure knows how to boogie those keys. Loved her attitude also. She gets my vote.

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    1. Castle's stage persona exudes fun, but on the video the Cimorellis seem to be having a good time as well. Thanks for your vote!

      Lee

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  24. I occasionally was forced to suffer through some Welk shows on TV as a kid, though my parents thought he was a square. My uncle called them: "Lawrence Puke and the Harmony Belchers."

    Later on I occasionally would go to plays at the Lawrence Welk Village Theater in Escondido. There is a little tiny bronze statue of Welk out front that stands about 4 feet tall. A buddy of mine had a 2"x6" plaque engraved to say: "Actual Size." He surreptitiously glued it below the sculpture. HA! HA!

    A lot of haters on this battle, Lee. Sorry 'bout that. I LIKED the battle. I liked both versions. The schloshed, drugged-up child molester plays a mighty mean piano! And the cute sisters sing well and are fun to watch. The curmudgeons can go soak their heads! I liked them both, but will agree with LC that The Boss does the definitive version.

    Of these two, I will give my vote to the very cute girls (those over 18 only, unlike JoAnn "Megastore" Castle.)

    Sheboyganboy 6

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    1. Thanks for coming to the defense of this Battle. I was kind of proud of it and sad to see so much dislike of both videos. Love the "plaque" story. I wonder how long it stayed up?

      When I was touring with a stage show in the '80's, we sometimes played a music house (I hesitate to call it a theater) in the Dakotas (I don't recall exactly where just now) where Welk supposedly got his start as a pro musician and bandleader. It was kind of cool, like being in a historical place and I guess it was. I was weathered old place, but then again it was in the Dakotas.

      Lee

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  25. I remember watching the Lawrence Welk Show as a kid and I liked it, too. Who would have ever thought JoAnn Castle lived with such demons? Her bubbling stage presence and gifted piano playing surely do not reveal these dark secrets in the least. I loved JoAnn's version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, but the Cimorelli Sisters upbeat, fun harmonizing tempo won me over! Fab #BOTB pick, Lee! Have the merriest Christmas yet!

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    1. You have a merry Christmas as well!

      Lee

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  26. Neither of those is exactly my thing. I like the Jackson 5 version, but I am really more a Gary Hoey sort of gal. Though my latest Christmas music love is Pentatonix. Not sure if they do this one or not, but I LOVE them.

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    1. A vote for Pentatonix that doesn't count in this contest.

      Lee

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  27. My vote goes to Cimorelli. I guess I just like the modern version more, and they harmonized beautifully.

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  28. I liked the Lennon Sisters for awhile. Some of them perform not far from me in Branson now.

    Have a Merry Christmas, Lee!

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    1. Don't they have a Lawrence Welk theater there or something? Seems like I've heard mention of it when I watch the Welk reruns on PBS.

      Lee

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  29. The Cimorelli sisters were adorable, and their harmonies spot on, but Joanne Castle sure as hell took this one out for a run, didn't she? She gets my vote!

    John Holton
    The Sound Of One Hand Typing

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    1. Castle really puts energy into her performance.

      Lee

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  30. While I have a real appreciation for Joanne's piano version (I too grew up watching Lawrence Welk and I also have a daughter who is a pianist so I know how much work goes into that) - I enjoyed the Cimorelli sisters version more. Their voices were great together and the "fun" really came through.

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  31. I've got 4 daughters and the Cimorellis performance reminded me of the "shows" my girls used to put on for the family.

    Lee

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  32. I'll admit neither one really grabbed me but I'm going with the Cimorelli sisters just because the video was fun.

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  33. Neither grabbed me either, but the Cimorelli girls really seemed to enjoy themselves.

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  34. Talented ladies - but I've got to go with Joanne - the speed and lightness of the song is awesome!

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    1. I don't think I've ever heard Jo Ann Castle play anything that wasn't fast and lively.

      Lee

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee