An International Flavor, by Rich Paschall

As you are driving around in your car or walking through the mall, you may be hearing the same holiday tunes you have heard for years, decades perhaps. While I enjoy hearing, Bing, Nat, Burl, or Andy as much as anyone, how about something a little different. We can add in some holiday spice from around the world for a new take on old favorites. We can also mix in a couple of songs you may not know at all.

Pour yourself an Egg Nog, spiked or not, your choice. Get some gingerbread cookies. Take a seat by the Yule log and listen to some favorites from singers and artists from around the world.

The Christmas Song, Ko Woo Rim, South Korea. Ko is a graduate of Seoul National University College of Music. He is currently studying for his master’s degree. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of the K-Pop group, Forestella. We recently featured him singing the French version of Autumn Leaves, Les Feuilles Mortes. The K-Pop group was formed through the singing competition, Phantom Singer, and they debuted together in 2018.

What’s Christmas Anyway? Darin, Sweden.  The Swedish superstar is one of the best-selling artists in Sweden. At age 16 he was runner-up on Swedish Idol and his career took off. The pop singer records in English as well as Swedish. In 2021 he released his first Christmas song.

Christmas Songs (medley), Layers (Jay, DMK, Dae-Youn Kim), South Korea. The classical music trio has played with symphony orchestras. They also played concerts of pop music. Their popular YouTube channel is a wide selection of classical music, standards, and pop favorites. Their Autumn Leaves video that we used earlier this year has over 3 and a quarter million views at this writing. The Christmas Medley is Jingle Bells, Look Out The Window, The First Noel, and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

Christmas Medley, Henrisoul, Nigeria. With a bit of soul, a little gospel, and an Afrobeat Henry Ifeanyi Orji has mashed up some lines from well-known carols to give us this soulful tune. He is a celebrated gospel singer in his part of the world.

Christmas Dreaming, Cody Simpson, Australia. Not only does Cody sing, but he is also a member of the Australia Swim Team and picked up a gold and a silver medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. He began his music career at the age of 12 by recording songs in his bedroom for his YouTube channel. He also has picked up some acting assignments, playing a high school student on Cougar Town and having a role in Nickelodeon’s One Crazy Crusie. He was also the leading male character in the Broadway musical, Anastasia. This Christmas song was recorded live with Jordan Reifkind on guitar.

Hold Me, Alexander Rybak, Norway. Rybak was born in Minsk, Belarus. His father defected to Norway while on tour with a chamber orchestra. Alexander and his mother arrived in Norway while traveling on a tourist visa and refused to leave. They were eventually granted citizenship. Rybak is a classically trained musician and has performed in Russian, English, and Norwegian. His success in music competitions helped make him a pop star in Europe. Wanting to improve his skills in film music composition, he sought his Master’s Degree at Columbia College in Chicago, graduating in July 2022. This holiday tune was written and performed by Rybak last year in Chicago.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Johann Vera, Ecuador, featuring Sebastián Silva, Colombia. Johann Vera started at age nine and became a finalist on “X-Factor,” Colombian Edition. He was also a finalist in 2015 on the Univision show “La Banda.” His popular YouTube channel has over a million subscribers. Silva is an actor who has studied cinema and television at the National University of Colombia. His YouTube following is at 1.3 million. The following high-energy production was filmed in Miami.

(Because) It’s Christmastime, Chicago, USA. When we came back around, you might have guessed Chicago would be my choice. They may have been “The Last Band on Stage” when the pandemic started, but then what did they do? A band that had been on the road for over 5 decades found a way to carry on from their own homes. Modern technology allowed for this performance from 10 different homes while performance venues were shut down:

To play them all, see our Christmas playlist HERE.

See also: “What Am I Listening To?” Christmas Edition, SERENDIPITY, December 23, 2021.

Categories: Celebrities, Entertainment, Holidays, Music, Rich Paschall

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