Some people, my own mom included, are just not music people. They're just not. Those of us who are find this to be a hard concept to grasp: a drive in the car sans musical company? a jog without a motivational beat? a night out without music drowning your conversations? All crazy notions, indeed. The Christmas season, however, seems to unify the musically naive and crazed alike under one common front.
As it is a celebration of many other things--like family, good food, and of course, our Savior's birth--the holidays are also a celebration of music. Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is emerging as just as much of a Christmas staple as stockings dressing the mantle and milk & cookies for Santa.
Amidst all the poppy tunes thanks to Mariah and the like (Taylor, J. Biebs, Hil Duff--your holiday album was epic back in the day), we mustn't forget the church choirs that remind us of the First Noel and bringing Joy to the World. Now, on that note, during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, I was reminded of a group of singers who do just that: bring joy to the world, or rather the ear.
I know they're old news, but y'all, I love the PS 22 chorus. They legitimately bring tears to my eyes. Although they've dabbled in Christmas music, they specialize in covers of today's popular music--everything from Katy Perry to Eminem and Michael Jackson, making these secular sounds the most harmonious, angelic melodies you have ever come across.
The director of the bunch, Gregg Brienberg, is one of the people I'd answer in reply to that question: "dead or alive, who'd you like to have dinner with?"
What started as an innocent attempt to make a half-decent chorus at the Island's largest elementary school, turned into a wild success after mentioning their covers of Tori Amos's songs on her website's message board.
After that, in just about as much time as it takes to read a Perez Hilton post (another supporter/attributor to their fame), Brienberg was getting calls from Passion Pit for his kids to be featured as background vocals on their new album and the Academy Awards requesting a special performance from the group at the award show.
This, along with their total of 50 million YouTube views, are just a few testaments to their success.
Each video is worth watching, but I'll make my best attempt at narrowing down my top three.
3. Viva La Vida - already epic in it of itself, but made all the more so by Public School 22 Chorus
2. Ho Hey - this song by The Lumineers has made a more recent statement in the mainstream music world and the kids absolutely nail it
1. Lisztomania - one of my favorite songs, but I think after umpteen listens, the PS22 version tops the original Phoenix version
And my favorite Christmas one just for fun - O Holy Night
But, seriously, watch them all. I dare you to not cry and/or smile.
My next task is to watch the documentary on the group, Once in a Lullaby, which was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.
The New York Times declared it "the best-known elementary school choir on the planet." As it rightfully deserves to be.