While Lennon and Ono’s original is a simple holiday song with an affecting message bolstered by the beautiful children’s choir singing in the background, the Flaming Lips turn the track into a striking psychedelic carol. Anchored by spiraling synth lines and frontman Wayne Coyne’s blown-out vocals, Ono descends from the sky with an ethereal rendering of the song’s refrain amidst classic Christmas song traits like par-rum-pa-pum-pum drumming and big, booming bells.
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is one of 43 holiday tunes collected on “All is Bright,” which is available for free for Amazon Prime members. The collection boasts numerous renditions of holiday classics from artists like Lucinda Williams, Amanda Palmer, the Tom Tom Club, Ladyhawke and Brandi Carlile; while Liz Phair, Anna Nalick, Blondfire and Ruby the RabbitFoot all contributed new songs.
Amazon also plans to release a number of videos to accompany the playlist, including live performances, behind-the-scenes footage from the recording sessions and interviews with various artists.
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Plenty of other musicians have holiday treats in store for this season, especially in the world of country: Darius Rucker’s collection Home for the Holidays saw release in October and boasts a duet with Sheryl Crowe, while the cast of the hit show Nashville cut Christmas With Nashville, which dropped earlier this month. Even Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat got into the Christmas spirit, releasing Home for Christmas, which features “Johnny, It’s Cold Outside,” a bromantic spin on the classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”