Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
I listened to FM Belfast’s brilliant dance-pop tune “I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep Either” 15-plus times on the first day I heard it, including about eight listens in a row. The frequency was only a little bit lower for the next few days.
This is not unprecedented; I will occasionally become so taken with a song that it will be the only music I can think about for several days. Since 2003, when this phenomenon first manifested (“Fishing the Sky” by The Appleseed Cast, which is now my ringtone), I have not stopped enjoying any of these tunes.
I say all this to back up one seemingly hyperbolic statement that I totally believe: I will be listening to “I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep Either” consistently for the next eight years, if not the rest of my life. It is in the upper echelon of songs I’ve ever heard not because of any meticulous analysis, but because I want to hear it over and over and over. I could spend several hundred words talking about why the goofy charm of the tune makes it addictive, but here’s the music video instead. The visuals are a perfect match.
The balance of “Don't Want To Sleep” is a clear case of naming your album after the best track and going from there.
“American” amps up the goofy factor, with the Icelandic kids murmuring incoherent phrases (“your name is in search of a friend,” “your head is as numb as your face”) and then chanting “I’m gonna learn American!” The perky, fun sounds that compose the song only add to the “don’t think about it, just love it” mood. “New Year” has great synth contributions and a solid melody.
Other tracks try to be taken seriously and totally fail (“In Line,” “Happy Winter”). FM Belfast is privy to what I’m right now dubbing the Architecture in Helsinki rule: If your quirkiness is what enthralls people, forget self-awareness or seriousness and just keep quirking. People will forgive repetition if there are high highs, but they won’t forgive a crack in the veneer.
Really, you shouldn’t be reading this far down in the review. You should be dancing euphorically. You need that song in your life. The rest of the album? Perhaps. But that song? Definitely. —Stephen Carradini