The A.V. Club - Holiday Undercover

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Episode Guide

    • Video: Holiday Undercover: The Walkmen cover "Holiday Road"
      11/29/10
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      For Holiday Undercover, we did away with the master list of songs and simply asked bands to come to the ol' round room and play a song--with two rules: It had to be a cover, and it had to somehow be holiday related. Perfect timing brought us a return visit from , who if you'll remember were the last band to play in the original Undercover series. They came up with an excellent choice: 's "Holiday Road," which you'll surely recall from its use in the movie Vacation. If you don't already have the ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Vetiver covers The Ramones
      12/27/10
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      We were secretly hoping that someone would tackle the Ramones' not-exactly-classic "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)" for Holiday Undercover, and fulfilled that Christmas wish. As singer-guitarist Andy Cabic notes, the song is from the last halfway-decent Ramones album, 1989's Brain Drain. Rather than remain faithful to the original--which might be tough for an outfit most associated with the freak-folk scene--Vetiver made it pretty, even utilizing the gorgeous sounds of a 12-string Rickenbacker. Enjoy, and please don't fight.moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: The Music Tapes cover "Let It Snow"/"Zat You, Santa Claus?"
      Indie-rock fans might recognize Julian Koster's name from Neutral Milk Hotel's classic In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, to which he contributed banjo and singing saw. Koster also leads , a fantastic collective that records clattering, sometimes kooky music for Merge Records. The Music Tapes also travel around all winter playing shows at people's houses--singing carols, leading games, etc. It was during the most recent leg of that tour that they stopped by The A.V. Club to play us "Let It Snow" with singing saws, and then bust into "Zat You, Santa Claus," a ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Fran Healy covers Joni Mitchell
      12/20/10
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      You might recognize as the singer of Scottish band , who, along with Coldplay, picked up the mantle for thoughtful Brit-rock after that wacky genre "Britpop" died in the late '90s. Healy is a fantastic songwriter who's never been hemmed in by genre tags: His influences certainly stretch back to the '60s and '70s, which he notes here with a nod to . Travis had previously covered Mitchell's "River"--a sad song about spending Christmastime somewhere sunny--but here, Healy does it up acoustic style, and tells us a story about a deceptive teacher. Healy's ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Dresden Dolls cover Neutral Milk Hotel
      12/15/10
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      It's a treat to see the fantastically theatrical stripped down to their component parts, and we were delighted that Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione made Holiday Undercover part of their brief reunion tour. They chose a song that you might recognize from the original Undercover series: Neutral Milk Hotel's "Two Headed Boy," which was performed . The Dresden Dolls' version, as you'll see, is massively different, with Palmer bringing an entirely new energy to this great, great song. What does it have to do with the holidays, you ask? The ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Shearwater covers Randy Newman
      12/13/10
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      To address some commenter concern about song choices for Holiday Undercover: We actually encouraged everyone who participated to think outside the Christmas-carol box. (I was hoping against hope that somebody would do "Holiday In Cambodia.") 's Jonathan Meiburg, an Undercover alumni found a not-quite-Christmas tune to depress all the little boys and girls out there. As you'll see, he did a fantastic job with 's "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)." His enthusiasm even reached theatrical levels, with the lights turned ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Andrew W.K. and Rodney The Mailman cover "Silent Night"
      had just wowed our office with several vastly different versions of "Silent Night," including one with a very somber delivery, and we thought to ourselves, "Which one will we use? They're all great!" And then Rodney, the friendliest mailman on the planet, walked in the door. You might remember Rodney from both the and Undercover videos, in which he made brief cameos. But here, on the spur of the moment, we convinced him to join Andrew W.K. for yet another rendition of "Silent Night." You can feel the holiday spirit ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Andrew W.K. covers "Silent Night"
      12/7/10
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      We tried to rope our old pal into doing the original Undercover series, but our schedules didn't quite mesh. We're making up for that with two Holiday Undercover appearances--the second, which features a very special guest, will air tomorrow. Here, you'll see Andrew deliver a beautiful, harrowing solo rendition of "Silent Night," a classic that dates back to about 1816: Andrew tells us it's one of his favorite songs of all time. What else has Mr. W.K. been up to lately? Oh man, you can see him on the Cartoon Network show ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Kate Nash covers "Merry X-Mas Everybody"
      Recognize this song? Intrepid Undercover watchers whose memories stretch back a few days will recognize "Merry X-Mas Everybody" by Slade as t. But here's a wildly different version by British songstress and her band. We think you'll agree it was so nice, you'll want to hear it twice. Nash's latest album is the spunky, endearing My Best Friend Is You. A.V. Club contributor Marc Hawthorne says it's one of the best albums of the year, and not just because he has a massive crush on Kate.moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Brendan Benson covers "Merry X-Mas Everybody"
      You may know as the rock-solid solo artist whose career launched with 1996's One Mississippi. Or perhaps you recognize him as the singer-guitarist in who isn't Jack White. Mr. Benson was kind enough to stop by The A.V. Club office while on tour with recently to knock out an acoustic version of the glam-rock holiday track "Merry Xmas Everybody," which was a massive British hit for way back in 1973. It's relatively unknown in America, but perhaps Brendan's version will remedy that situation. Also: You should probably pick ...moreless
    • Video: Holiday Undercover: Badly Drawn Boy covers "Do They Know It's Christmas"A
      It's tough to make a star-studded charity single like Band-Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" sound intimate, but if anybody can do it, it's , a.k.a. British singer-songwriter Damon Gough. He nails all the parts--even Boy George's "ooooh-oh." Gough has been making consistently great records since his classic debut, 2000's The Hour Of Bewilderbeast. His latest is It's What I'm Thinking, Part One: Photographing Snowflakes. Enjoy, and remember:moreless