Carol of the Bells is in my mind three very different songs (all of which are awesome).
The bell version is one — the whole thing played on a bunch of well-coordinated handbells. That’s not only a feat in composition and arrangement, but a feat in the coordination of a group of bell players.
The vocal version is great because of the harmonies. I recently saw a live (and sing-along) performance of Handel’s Messiah, and there too the vocal arrangements kind of blew me away. They share the sheer power of a choir, coupled with four distinctive vocal lines that each complement and build on each other without just being different notes of a chord singing the same rhythm, but rather an interweaving of different parts. The lyrics of the bell carol are also nice, and impressive in their speed and rhyming.
But my favourite version has to be the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s. There’s something about a cello and an electric guitar complementing each other that gets me every time.
This is part of a series of posts I’m writing every day of December until Christmas, musing on my 25 favourite Christmas songs. The first one is here.