BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “White Christmas”

BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (BOTB Top Photo)

Welcome to another Christmastime edition of the Battle of the Bands!

Today’s song should be familiar to anyone who read my post from last week about Christmas songs written by Jewish composers

Bing Crosby first performed Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” on The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas Day 1941. A year later, it was featured with a number of other Berlin songs in the movie Holiday Inn, with Bing, Fred Astaire, and Marjorie Reynolds, whose singing was dubbed by Martha Mears. It became popular during World War II, with its images of home and all that it meant, particularly with servicemen. In 1954, it was the title song for the movie White Christmas, a postwar version of Holiday Inn (that’s what I’ve always heard, anyway) which starred Bing, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen.

It’s a classic song, and has been done time and again by such artists as Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Taylor Swift, Andrea Bocelli, and the two singing groups that will be squaring off in this battle.

CONTESTANT #1: The Drifters

This was recorded in 1954 and reached #2 on the Billboard R&B chart that year. The following year, it crossed over to the Hot 100 and peaked at #80. It was played mostly on R&B stations until it was featured in 1990’s Home Alone, with Macaulay Culkin, Catherine O’Hara, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern et al.

CONTESTANT #2: The Barberettes

I was looking for a version of the song on YouTube and turned up this version by a Korean singing group called The Barberettes. Their Facebook page tells us that the singers are Shinae An Weaver, Grace Kim, and So Hee Park, backed by Sae Ha Lee on piano, Hyun Park on bass, and G. Young Kim on drums. They refer to themselves as “the time traveling girl group” and refer to their music as “Doo Wop/Vocal Music/Korean Retro.” I think you’ll enjoy them.

Now, it’s time to vote: which did you like better? The classic R&B stylings of The Drifters from sixty years ago, or the more updated harmonies of the three young women from Seoul, South Korea? Let me know in the comments below!

And, as always, after you’ve made your pick, the other participants in the Battle of the Bands have worked hard to come up with battles of their own, and would consider it a great honor if you would stop by their blogs and listen to what they have in store.

Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
DiscConnected
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Creative Outlet of Stratplayer
Mike’s Ramblings
Curious as a Cathy

Results next week!

13 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “White Christmas”

  1. the ladies have a nice harmony, but I get a kick out of that version by the Drifters. As STMc mentioned, it is background in the movie ‘Mixed Nuts’ (which I also get quite a kick out of). So give my vote to The Drifters.

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  2. Hi John. I think Bing and Martha would beat out any contenders with this song. Good thing they are not in the voting 🙂

    The Drifters sound really good; but the harmony of the Barberettes captured me from the first instant. Even during the du-wop moments. So the girls get my vote.

    Hope your Christmas is a Merry one.

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  3. This is a lesser-of-two-evils vote for me-while I like the Drifters, I am not in love with their version here, but the Barbarettes were kind of barbaric to my ears….

    So score one for the Drifters.

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  4. I did not expect to like the Barbarettes as much as I did but they get my vote! I love their harmony which works so well and it is more traditional which I love. The Drifters were good until the one started singing as if he got kicked in the groin and it went all over the place for me. I can see why it works so well in Home Alone.

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  5. Gosh I was so hoping someone would spin Bing – not to be. In that particular scene at the piano he taps his pipe stem against some tiny crystal glasses to accent the song. So romantic! Back to the BOTB:
    Drifters forever!

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  6. Gotta be honest. I like the original best.

    There were problems with both of them (for me) that would keep me from listening to them apurpose. (Yeah, I just made up a word.)

    The Drifters. I was really digging it until the really high tenor took over lead vocals. Then, I just got through it until it reverted back to the main singer.

    The Barbarettes. I didn’t mind how slow it was (unlike some other commenters), but I didn’t like the “background touches” that StMc referred to above. Those little flourishes can be difficult to pull off (and they didn’t in my opinion). The song would’ve been better without them.

    So, which did I dislike least? Hmm. That’s a tough call. I guess The Barbarettes. Their flourishes didn’t last as long as that tenor’s takeover of the main vocals.

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  7. I’d never heard of the Barberettes before, and I like their voices, but I’m going to have to vote for the Drifters, too. I just prefer their version. However, thank you for introducing me to the Barberettes – I think I’ll look for more of their music!

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  8. Two interesting renditions.

    The Drifters version is one I’ve heard for years. It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek doo-wop piece that always makes me smile.

    The Barberettes are new to me. They’re OK, and they have excellent harmonies. But the song is slow and done basically straight other than the two insertions of the “Oo-whee-ooh-whoo / Wah-wah-wah-wah” parts. I find it too hokey to be serious, and too “trying-to-be-serious” to be considered a fun, playful song.

    So I’m giving this one to the Drifters.

    Have a merry Christmas!

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  9. JOHN ~
    As I type these words, the score is 2 to 0 in favor of The Barberettes. At least I’m going to put an end to a potential shutout with my vote.

    I do like Doo-Wop somewhat, but only like The Drifters a wee bit o’ so-so. A couple years ago my friend FAE (‘BOTBer’ of the blog ‘Far Away Series’) loaned me her copy of the Steve Martin Christmas movie ‘Mixed Nuts’, and if I recall correctly, this Drifter’s version was also used during the title/opening credit shots. And it seemed to work because it was an enjoyable but nutty movie.

    The whole “Dup-Dup – Duppy-Duppy-Dup” background vocal chant makes the song seem kind of hokey to me. That’s why I was sure I would vote for The Barberettes but… no… can’t do it.

    Their version was so slow and lifeless, and then they’d toss in those strange little, out-of-place background touches that only made me long for the “slow and lifeless” again.

    Sorry, Brother, but this is a so-so vote for The Drifters.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

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  10. Do-woppy style is not so much a favorite of mine so the guys lose points for that. The girls keep things a bit more traditional and I prefer their voices on this tune. The instrumentation is pretty simple, but I do like that bass with the jazzy sounding piano and drums.

    Barberettes for me.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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