Musical Interlude, Part 8

As always, Amazon has a handful of free Christmas albums up on, so I decided to download and listen to them. After all, I obviously didn't have enough Christmas music already.

Album: Greenhill Christmas Music Sampler
Artist: Various

On average, this is a bad sampler, primarily containing elevator jazz and new age tracks. But since this is a free album, there's no law of averages at play: all that matters is whether there's anything worth keeping. And fortunately, the answer is yes.

There's not a lot, but there are a handful of good songs, along with (dare I say) one great one. Oddly enough, the great one is from a new age artist, David Arkenstone. It's an adaptation of Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, albeit one that (at least to my ears) sounds like it belongs in a spy movie.

I looked up Arkenstone's Christmas album after hearing this and listened to the 30 second samples. They sounded good, but they're certainly nothing like this Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.

This does bring up an important point: if anyone knows of any Christmas music with overtones of espionage or that sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to an action movie, please let me know.

Album: Truly Tribal Christmas
Artist: The Hit Crew

To the album's credit, Christmas songs played on a steel drum sound different. Is different good? I don't know: aspects of these songs are neat, but I don't expect I'll be going out of my way to hear them again.

Album: Christmas at Home (Free Sampler)
Artist: 101 Strings Orchestra (?)

This is... bizarre. This seems to be mislabeled, as I don't think there's any way in hell this group of kids singing religious songs could actually be connected to something called the "101 Strings Orchestra." That said, I completely sympathize with whoever actually produced this: if I were them, I'd put someone else's name on it, too.

There's speculation on the review page that Amazon might have mixed this up with the next item on my list:

Album: Christmas at Home: Kid's Christmas Free Sampler
Artist: The Countdown Kids (?)

Once again: there's speculation that this might actually be the 101 Strings Orchestra and the above by the Countdown Kids. But I'm not sure that's right: I've actually got another Christmas album attributed to "The Countdown Kids," a corporate singing group, and it doesn't sound a damn thing like either album. That said, since it is corporate owned, the brand's masters could have done just about anything with it. So who knows?

I suppose this could be the 101 Strings Orchestra, since there's clearly an orchestra playing here, but - once again - I'm not sure. The focus seems to be on the singing (pretty straightforward carols), which seems unlikely for a orchestra.

Ultimately, it doesn't seem all that significant. The music's fine, but it's absurdly easy to find free choral music.

Album: Free Must-Have Christmas Masterpieces
Artist: Various

This free album contains four songs: three are classical pieces and one is Jingle Bells being performed by kids. Unlike the Christmas at Home sampler above, at least these kids are professional singers.