The Twelve Songs of Christmas: “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy” (Bing Crosby & David Bowie)

It’s hard to believe that the unlikely pairing of an iconic glam rocker and an award-winning actor and influential singer worked so well. Crosby was arguably one of the earliest crooners, predating and inspiring Frank Sinatra and his contemporaries, which makes this duet even stranger, in some ways.

If you aren’t aware, Bowie had quite a vocal range, surprisingly so at times. But here I think it was the right choice to stay in the higher register. It complements Crosby’s low baritone perfectly and adds a depth to the arrangement that wouldn’t have been present otherwise. Bowie provides a soaring, powerful lead over Crosby’s low rhythm. But while I do think it sometimes feels as though it’s more Bowie’s song than Crosby’s, that bass rhythm shouldn’t be disregarded as a cameo. It’s an integral part of the song, and it just wouldn’t work without it.

Plus, even though “Peace on Earth” was written for Bowie, who asked if he could sing anything other than “The Little Drummer Boy,” it was still Crosby’s show. Bowie may shine out more in the song, but technically he’s the guest singer.

This is far and away my favorite Christmas song, and one of the few that has never been soured for me despite the commercialization of the holiday and the incessant replaying of the same tired songs recorded by every artist with a microphone and a record deal. It’s a beautifully performed reminder of what the holiday season is supposed to be about. Gifts and decorations are all well and good, but it’s all become less about giving and more about making money and trying to outdo one another. It shouldn’t matter who can give the best gift or put up the most decorations. It should be able love, and peace, and sharing the world with one another. And that’s something don’t seem to remember often enough these days.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas today, or another holiday this season, we here at 13/31 are sending you all of our best wishes for a happy holiday full of love and joy. And we’d like to take a moment here as well to wish you a very happy and healthy New Year. We’ll see you all in 2017!

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