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Smackdown: Holiday Double Feature

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On today's Soundcheck Smackdown: twice as much debate. First, two seasonal favorites go head-to-head as music critics make their case for “White Christmas” or “Silent Night.” Next: no one does Christmas pop quite like the British. Two Brits duke it out over their favorite hits. And later: Jazz drummer Matt Wilson and his Christmas Tree-o perform live in our studio.

Smackdown: White Christmas vs. Silent Night

Some dream of a "White Christmas"...others prefer a "Silent Night."  Jody Rosen of Slate.com and Rolling Stone debates WQXR host Jeff Spurgeon over which classic Christmas tune really puts the shine on Santa's shoes.

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Smackdown: Battle of the Brits

It's a British tradition--a race to top the music charts each Christmas season. Music critic Sophie Harris of Time Out New York and BBC contributor Gary Burton square off on their favorite seasonal hits from back home.

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In Studio: Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O

Jazz drummer Matt Wilson has been getting into the holiday spirit. He brings his Christmas Tree-o to our studio to perform some traditional – and not-so-traditional – holiday songs.

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Playlist: Smackdowns + Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O

Click through to see today's Soundcheck playlist.

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A Song For Xmas

John Schaefer dislikes all its recordings, but still thinks Silent Night is a great song.

Gary Burton: Top of the (Christmas) Pops

Music writer and British radio personality Gary Burton joins us today joins us today for a Soundcheck Smackdown on a British holiday tradition: the race for a "Christmas No. 1" on the country's pop charts. Here's a list of his top-five UK Christmas songs:

5. Kate Bush, "December Will Be Magic Again"

4. Paul McCartney, "Wonderful Christmastime"

3. Jona Lewie, "Stop The Cavalry"

2. Slade, "Merry Xmas Everybody"

1. Greg Lake, "I Believe in Father Christmas"

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Sophie Harris: Top of the (Christmas) Pops

Music critic Sophie Harris of Time Out New York joins us today for a Soundcheck Smackdown on a British holiday tradition: the race for a "Christmas No. 1" on the country's pop charts. Here's her list of her top-five UK Christmas songs:

5. Shakin' Stevens, "Merry Christmas Everyone"  / Frankie Goes to Hollywood "The Power of Love" (not strictly a Christmas song, but a memorable Christmas No. 1)

4. Jona Lewie, "Stop the Cavalry"

3. Band Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

2. Wham!, "Last Christmas"

1. John and Yoko, "Happy Xmas (War is Over)"

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GIg Alert: Koliadnyky

Koliadnyky plays traditional music from Ukraine's Carpathian mountains on hammered dulcimers, fiddles, and flutes Tuesday night at Barbès. Download a track here.

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Gig Alert: Helen Sung

Helen Sung and her quartet play the Jazz Standard Tuesday night, the club where she recorded her last album Going Express. Download her "Hopes Springs Eternally."

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Gross Relations

Gig Alert: Gross Relations

The Brooklyn pop band Gross Relations delivers laid-back fuzz, washed out vocals and distortion petals with a pretty insistent lo-fi vibe on the track “Fuzzy Timelines.” Download the song here.

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