With the holidays upon us once again, once again we collectively face retail propositions—thinly veiled as holiday spirit, if at all—at every turn as consumerism surges towards its perennial peak in one week. So too are flesh-and-bone shoppers invariably subject to a brick-and-mortar experience that predates the web-enabled phenomenon of 'showrooming' (which has now met its match with neologisms such as 'webrooming,' 'e-rooming,' and 'RoBo'; look 'em up if you're curious): the ineluctable IRL soundtrack to the season, piping through the internal airwaves of stores as though preordained—paeans to Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, et al part and parcel to unflattering fluorescent lights and cranked-up HVAC. Hackneyed holiday classics and the ever-lengthening tail of covers, remixes, etc. alike serve as foregone background music that falls like light flurries on one's ears; sure, it melts instantly, but it also has a weird way of seeping into your cerebellum. Tis the season indeed.
Here's one that you won't be hearing at your local Best Buy or [insert big box electronics store here]: James Houston's take on "Carol of the Bells." The director / animator / graphic designer tuned his obsolete-device orchestra—which include an iMac, a Commodore 64 and a SEGA Mega Drive, among others—to the telltale motif of the Ukrainian folk chant. Check out "Season's Greetings from The Glasgow School of Art" (Houston's Alma Mater):
Some of you may remember Houston's similar rendition of Radiohead's "Nude," which I included alongside Amanda Ghassaei's 3D-printed records at the very beginning of this year (it dates back to 2008). This time around, he's also taken some liberties with the lyrics—the machines chirp and drone, with semi-deciperable 8-bit gusto, cheeky lines such as:
Bleep bloop beep bong / hear our sweet song
If none of our / coding is wrong...
Just ignore that our casing is all mucky
We'll still load for you if we are lucky
Give us a thought / blow in the slot
Tighten the screw / we will come through...
New gifts embraced / we've been replaced
Phone in your hand / best in the land
Can't take you back / to wonderland
But we can bring / back everything
Just reminisce / digital bliss
Think I might get a new model this year, the one I have is so 20-12...
Hat-tip to the Creators Project, which has a full transcript of the lyrics.
Rather less seasonal is a new mixtape of original music from IDEOers: "Off the Record" is a side project from a handful of moonlighting designers, researchers and marketers at the multinational consultancy, including sometime (fiction) writer Matt Brown. It's a diverse mix of self-recorded, mostly guitar-driven ditties and jams—no Beyoncé, perhaps, but a winsome effort all around. Head over to the microsite to rock out to the soulful sounds of IDEO.