"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" - Gregory Porter and Samara Joy
Here’s a partial list of the artists who have recorded Frank Loesser’s 1947 classic request for a holiday date:
Barbra Streisand, Harry Connick, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Kacey Musgraves, The Head and the Heart… even the aforementioned Straight No Chaser. You uncle has probably recorded his own version. (Actually, that may depend on who your uncle is.) The point is, this is a true classic.
Want to know how good this Porter-Joy duet is? For my money, it takes over the number spot on the list of best versions, second only to Ella Fitzgerald. If you come in second to Ella in a singing competition, you have led a charmed life.
The beauty here comes from Porter’s warm baritone blending with Joy’s classical jazz stylings. It has a lush string and piano background, and a beautiful sax solo from Tivon Pennicott, but the power comes from the vocals. The song is perfect for a duet, but most of the best-known versions have been solo efforts. I suspect Porter and Joy may inspire other duos to give it a go.
"Auld Lang Syne" - Dollyrots
The Dollyrots are always good for an upbeat take on Holiday tunes and this year is no different. Singer/bassist Kelly Ogden and her guitar-playing husband Luis Cabezas released a 12-track Christmas album (A Very Dollyrots Christmas) back in 2020. It featured cameos by their kids River and Daisy, neither of whom had yet turned five, as well as a holiday version of their biggest hit, “Because I’m Awesome,’ – rechristened as “Because I’m Santa.”
Now the pop-punk love story continues with a hard-charging “Auld Lang Syne,: with the Dollytots making their typical cameo toward the end. River, who is now an old man of about 7 or 8, routinely joins his mom and dad on stage to tell jokes, do yo-yo tricks, and strike guitar-god poses. I expect that pretty soon, he’ll be a full-fledged member of the band. I hear he’s learning piano.