Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One of my favorite modern Christmas songs: SNL's "I Wish It Was Christmas Today"

"All I know is that Santa's sleigh
Is makin it's way to the U.S.A.
I wish it was Christmas today"

In a recent post, I talked about Saturday Night Live's history of original songs about Thanksgiving. SNL has also given us one of my favorite modern Christmas songs.

On December 9, 2000, this simple title card appeared on screen :

Several cast members then appeared on a stage with fake snow falling in the background.
The song features Horatio Sanz on guitar and lead vocals, Jimmy Fallon on keyboard and back-up vocals, Chris Kattan holding the keyboard and dancing, and Tracy Morgan dancing. Sanz and Fallon also wrote the song.

Here's the first ever performance of "I Wish It Was Christmas Today":

It's a very happy, up-tempo number, Sanz's vocals give the song a very charming child-like quality. "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" went over so well that it was brought back for an encore performance on December 16 that year (I haven't been able to find a clip of that performance yet).

The song returned in December 1, 2001. As you'll hear from the crowd reaction, this song had already become a fan favorite.

On December 14, 2002, Sanz and company upped the ante. They busted out of a giant gift box and performed the song in costumes that represented popular toys given at Christmas that year.

If you're keeping score, that's Sanz as a teddy bear, Fallon as Harry Potter, Kattan as a soldier and Morgan as Chicken Dance Elmo.

The song was not performed in 2003, perhaps due to the departure of Kattan and Morgan.

On December 18, 2004, Sanz came on stage, guitar in hand and called out for Fallon, Kattan and Morgan to join him. They didn't, because they'd already quit the show. Sanz was a bit dejected, until Kermit the Frog showed up and offered to help sing "I Wish It Was Christmas Today". They were joined by Kermit's Muppet friends, Fozzie, Gonzo and Animal for a truly memorable performance.

The song wasn't performed the next year, which also happened to be Sanz's last season on SNL. It seemed that "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" would soon be forgotten.

And it was , until Julian Casablancas (lead singer of The Strokes) recorded a rock version of the song in 2009 that featured electric guitars, drums, etc. Here's Casablancas's version:

Finally, we got a special performance of "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on December 21, 2009. Sanz and Fallon sang the first verse of the song. Suddenly the camera panned over to the center of the stage to Casablancas, backed by hip-hop legends The Roots (who also serve as the Late Night house band). Sanz and Fallon eventually join Casablancas, it's a great once-in-a lifetime performance, nicely punched up by the Roots' brass section.

I Wish It Was Christmas Today from denisedahlin on Vimeo.

I'm a little disappointed to say that I've never heard this song play in any store or on any "All-Christmas" radio stations during the Holiday season. "I Wish It Was Christmas Today" should be hailed as a modern Christmas classic. I can even imagine Bing Crosby, Darlene Love or Rankin-Bass characters singing the song!

But we may get another performance on SNL. This week's (December 17,2011) host will be none other than Jimmy Fallon. Will we get cameos by Sanz, Morgan and Kattan? Will "the band" back together for one more Christmas performance? I certainly hope so!

And after typing this up, I do, indeed wish it was Christmas today!


1 comment:

tom said...

you got your wish :)