Our kiddo has started to get really into Christmas music. It is wonderful to hear her hilarious renditions of all of the classics and I hope so, so deeply that she will lose all interest at 11:59pm on December 25th. But for the time being, there are a lot of holiday tunes happening at our house.
Recently, she’s been all about “Silent Night”. She calls it “Silent at Night”. In fact, for her, the lyrics go “Silent at night, Holy at night”, which is actually a lot cooler than the real lyrics because it sounds like a tagline from a movie poster or something. We were putting on different versions of this song and it got me wondering. How many version of “Silent Night” are there, even?
Turns out there’s… uh… a lot. More than we need! More than anyone needs!
Given that this was always a favourite of mine growing up, and it really felt like the Christmas Eve song when we were going to Christmas Eve night mass, I thought that it would be nice to take today to do my best to find the greatest version of “Silent Night” that I could possibly find. On YouTube.
A quick search yielded way too many hits to cover, so I picked the first 31 of them that I thought might be worth taking a look at.
Kelly Clarkson ft. Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire
Kelly Clarkson has a great and great-big voice and it is put to pretty good use here. The performance is a little showy, but I guess that’s the kind of the style of this kind of thing. Then Trisha Yearwood comes out and they start to kind of duet, and it doesn’t really work for me. Yearwood is fine, but we just heard Clarkson nail the exact same melody with way more balls, so… yeah. But then Reba McEntire comes out and watching her swagger her way through her verse is kind of fucking thrilling. Partially because it seems like she’s not going to hit the notes every time, but then she guides her voice to the notes using her head as a joystick somehow, and partially because Reba was in Tremors and that movie fucking owns.
The three of them do a final verse in full harmony and it is truthfully very solid work. The audience applauds them and I probably would have clapped too.
Version Verdict: A heavenly piece that you don’t want to sleep on.
I want to tap out on this immediately. I can’t believe a word this guy is singing. His shtick is laid on so thick, all I can think about while listening how much it sounds like he’s trying to make everybody hear that he’s had singing lessons. Then a choir comes in and they only sound so-so. I think this track has both harp and bells in it, which is like… uh… pick a lane, Bubbles.
There are at least three key changes in this version, which… Okay, I guess if you’re trying to stretch out a song where every verse is basically the same and there’s no chorus, you’ve gotta do something, but… I’m not into it.
Version Verdict: Jesus lord, it’s the wooooOOOOOooorst. Jesus lord, it’s the worst.
Probably the only banjo and voice version of this song that I’ll cover, so points awarded here for original arrangement. This is also pretty clearly a live and relatively unvarnished performance, which I find refreshing. Both vocalists are a little off here and there and it actually works to the piece’s benefit overall.
The band is nice. I feel like you could see this at a small club or something and be reasonably happy about it. But then you’d be like “Oh wait, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m out at this Christmas Coffee House with these banjo people instead of at home wrapping gifts very badly at the last minute” and you’d try to leave and the music is so quiet and delicate that everybody hears you trying to leave and they all look at you with angry expressions and it ruins your whole Christmas. So… I don’t know, you’ve gotta take your chances with this one.
Version Verdict: Tender… AND mild.
Jesus Christ, this is a sleepy song. Why did I do this to myself?
I’m not sure that I can slag Der Bingle’s version of Silent Night. I’ll bet he nailed this in one take. While getting fitted for a suit.
It’s classic and it sounds classic. The arrangement is very nice. The background vocals are spectacular. The would be on the shortlist for my “Desert Island ‘Silent Night’s”, if there were such a thing.
Version Verdict: Radiant beams from Bing’s holy face.
Each one of these seems to be starting at a slower tempo than the last and I am fucking cursing myself right now.
Mariah Carey is amazing, so this should be good. She’s got a full choir and this choir doesn’t just sound like a bunch of lame kids. There’s also an organ player taking a fucking walk on the thing throughout, which is fun as hell. This version also goes refreshingly off-book in its back half, which is most appreciated by me at this point.
This one is the current winner for “most sway-inducing version”. It’s pretty great!
Version Verdict: Makes me sing “Hallelujah”.
Winchester Cathedral Choir
I… do not want to look at these kids for three minutes.
The thing I like about this one is that it’s the version that would get used in a movie over a montage of a bunch of gangsters getting revenge-killed over the holidays in slow motion for three minutes (ten in a Scorsese movie). It’s got that church creepiness going for it. Some of the harmonies going on here are downright terrifying.
I just keep thinking that these kids probably all think that they’re a pretty big deal right now, but the gravy train screeches to a halt when you grow some armpit hair and your voices start to crack, dudes.
Version Verdict: Shepherd’s… uh… I’m running out of lyric puns, guys.
Super Simple Songs
I’m not sure that this is a “super simple song”. There’s a lot to unpack here, especially if you don’t know the whole Jesus backstory. Also, this is the churchiest church song you can find and 100% of the animated activities here feature non-denominational non-religious pro-Santa activities. What are these people trying to pull?
The animation is hilarious and the song version is pretty boring and mediocre. This is probably just more evidence that kids shouldn’t be allowed to watch YouTube.
Version Verdict: No redeeming grace here.
Strong contender for best version.
From the forward-thinking lyrical changes (“Silent night, gory night”) to the evocative art work, this is a winner. I also like that Coffin Fuck seem to be just competent enough to be the funniest death metal band I have ever heard. Honestly, this is just terrific.
Version Verdict: This one deserves its own grading scheme, so I’m actually disqualifying it altogether.
This video contains helpful lyrics, in case you were in need of those. Maybe I should have led off with it.
Bocelli has a remarkable voice, which is news to nobody. This version also has some really interesting piano work. You could do a lot worse than this. It’s… it’s no Coffin Fuck, but it’ll do.
Version Verdict: This has only one key change, so it is pretty good.
Very satisfying to hear Tom Waits slur his way though this tune. And then he seamlessly blends it into a song about a letter-writing prostitutes. It feels pretty festive. Drunk folks playing the piano might feel the most like Christmas to some.
I enjoyed this, but it is barely a version of “Silent Night”.
Version Verdict: The crowd laughing at all of the gags makes this clip 10x better.
This is a very nice, if fairly simple solo guitar version of “Silent Night”. This is probably the most educational video that we will cover. I will be honest, I’m not going to watch this whole thing. It is very long and I already play this song differently than this guy.
Wait, maybe this guy sucks.
Wait.. maybe I suck? This is worrisome.
Version Verdict: You could impress your friends and family with this, but not this year because there’s a pandemic and you shouldn’t see anybody. 0 stars.
This sounds cynical, but this version delivers exactly what I was expecting. This is Stevie Nicks singing “Silent Night”. She really, really sounds like Stevie Nicks. Which makes sense, I guess.
They do a very off-book little change-up after each verse that doesn’t work for me at all. I think that I am reaching my threshold for listening to versions of “Silent Night” in a row and actually giving them a fair shake, because I’m just not digging this.
If you like any two of the following things, you may like it: Stevie Nicks, baby Jesus, very slow songs.
Version Verdict: Christ our savior, I’m boooooooored.
This excited me because it said “Claymation video”, but I see now that it is the same 15 second clip of claymation looped and I just wanna punch something.
I am not willing to give further thought to Teddy Swims.
Version Verdict: This video technically is a claymation video, but it still seems like a sneaky lie to me. This sucks.
Just a wholesome gang of Pertersens dressing up like they’re going to go to farmprom and belting out the classics. I wasn’t into this until it panned over to the Mom slappin’ away on the stand-up bass. Then I was all in. Get it, Mom!
Version Verdict: The best version of this song recorded in front of a fireplace that I have seen so far today.
David Archuleta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
This one wins major points for the introduction, which sounds like something you might put on to get in the mood for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. It’s pretty standard after that. The orchestral arrangement is pretty gorgeous, though. These fuckin’ Mormons can jam.
I don’t know who David Archuleta, but he has an adequate “pretty boy voice” to handle this rendition of “Silent Night”. They’re all laying it on pretty thick by the end, but let’s face it – it’s a super melodramatic story in the first place. Sure, kid. You were born in a barn. We get it.
This is more like it! The Dickies fart out a punk version of “Silent Night” that sounds delightfully snotty, just like a punk version of “Silent Night” should. Subverting the song’s title and making an awful racket instead might seem like an obvious joke, but it lands for me.
I may be a sucker, but this does it for me.
I selected this one because I wanted to see what a “raw and uncut” version of “Silent Night” would sound like. It’s really no more sloppy than any of the other versions. Gabriel’s voice is pretty rough and hasn’t been pitch corrected or anything, but that strikes me as his vibe. It’s a feature, not a bug.
Apparently this is Johnny Cash’s eldest grandchild? Makes sense. He seems really bummed out in this video. Again, that might just be his vibe.
I don’t hate this, but this might be the version of “Silent Night” I would put on after getting fired from my job just before Christmas and telling my family that things are going to be tight but we’ll make it through somehow.
All Good Things
Uhh… this isn’t “Silent Night”. This is some shlubs playing terrible four-chord buttrock in a barn-shaped garage with bad lighting. The singer looks like Chris D’Elia, so while I’m listening to this I’m just imagining the singer’s shocked face when he realizes that Snapchats can be saved.
This song is really bad and this band’s name is hysterically ironic. Boooooooo!
Beware of any band name that doesn’t have time for the spacebar. I was actually expecting this to be emo or pop punk, but it’s really more straightforward vocal pop. Instrumentation is pretty tame.
Actually a competent version of the tune, but at this point you don’t really need another okay version of “Silent Night”. You need either a great or a hilariously awful version. Pass.
Oh, there’s a harmonica solo. If that’s your thing.
Fifteen seconds in and this is already the best video that I’ve seen. These costumes rule.
I like the whispery version that she’s doing. This is the version that gets used in a horror movie trailer for sure. Just this version over silent shots of people screaming and aerial shots of the forest. Great stuff.
Creepiest version. Only accompaniment seems to be one bass synth pad. I love this one.
Silent Night Deadly Night 2 Best Lines
This isn’t actually the song at all, but it is by far the most entertaining video in this entire post. This guy is the greatest actor of all time. Ricky is the best.
Yes! This rocks.
It’s the wrong song. But all hail the Jov’! Honestly, I’m just sick of the real song, this might not actually be any good.
It sounds like they borrowed Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” synth, which is somehow simultaneously a miracle and a crime against humanity. Double-necked guitars for us all! Merry Xmas!
Oh, this one is going to be hard to beat. You’ve got GODKING Christopher Lee crooning over a massively detuned double-time chunk-metal version of “Silent Night”? Everything about this just screams winner to me. The fact that it kind of sounds like they recorded the music AFTER the vocals makes it even funnier/more fun.
Rest in peace, Mr. Lee. You probably got a very good room in Heaven for recording this piece of glorious art.
Ahhh, no. Another family.
These people are dressed like regular people and there are kids yelling in the background, so I feel like the gang is more “normal” than that last family. As normal as a bunch of people who record themselves singing “Silent Night” can be, I guess.
The soloist isn’t amazing, but the harmonies when the whole gang comes in are pretty solid! And Dad can really shred the piano. Actually, ditch the lead singer (seriously, take away her mic) and this isn’t bad at all.
I would have a beer with this family. Not those uptight Petersens.
Puddles The Clown
…I don’t know what to say about this one. It’s confusing and vaguely terrifying, but Puddles can really wail. This might be as close we ever get to a Clown Core Xmas song, and I’ll take it.
This is a totally respectable version of “Silent Night” in its own right!
Not only do you guy a version of “Silent Night” done by everyone’s favourite creepy dead-eyed Australian Children’s performers, it’s also a version in German. Also the video keeps cutting to some kids posing as The Wiggles.
This is like a video that they show people trapped in a reprogramming facility every morning.
Boyz II Men
What am I going to do? Make fun of Boyz II Men? Fat chance.
This is impeccable.
This somehow really sounds like going to Christmas dinner at one’s grandparents’ house. There’s something very comforting about it. It definitely sounds like something that was made in a simpler time when people just repressed and ignored all of mankind’s ills.
This makes me wanna sit on a red shag carpet in front of a fireplace, waiting for my turn to open a present that turns out to be socks.
I’m very tired of this song.
More like Man-o-BORE. This only turns metal-ish at the very last minute and it isn’t very heavy. The vocalist is kind of a low-rent Bruce Dickinson. Iron Maiden would have done a better job with this for sure.
This is billed as “Black Metal Silent Night” and it delivers on what it sells itself to be. The imagery leads me to believe that this is just a couple of skinny young guys hanging out in the forest wearing t-shirts and corpse paint and swinging an axe around. Very entertaining material and very much in the spirit of the season, as perhaps they are trying to find a Christmas tree.
This live bootleg recording of Bad Religion covering “Silent Night” seems like as good a place to call it a day as any. The band sounds loose and sloppy and this recording is a lot of fun. The group is clearly having fun, throwing in a little “My Sharona” interlude to mix things up.
This makes me really miss live music, guys. Maybe next Christmas we can all get together and play sloppy covers of all of our favourite Christmas songs.
…Not “Silent Night”, though. I’m good on “Silent Night” for awhile.
Happy Holidays, you filthy animals!