The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

Spyglass

The student-run newspaper of Westridge School for Girls, Spyglass strives to build community and evoke empathy through the medium of journalism. Comprised of passionate student writers, editors, designers, managers, and leaders, Spyglass is dedicated to ethical reporting that amplifies our unique voices to inform, entertain, and forge connection in the Westridge community and beyond.

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Sounds For State Street: Pudding Mix & Sugar Plum

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Song

Hello, my name is Carolina, and I am a junior. Growing up, I’ve had a very diverse and unique music taste thanks to my parents. They introduced me to everything under the sun, ranging from Motown and David Bowie to Sade and Dean Martin. 

In this column, I’ll create monthly eclectic playlists full of genres from classical to ’70s rock and R&B to pop with the intention to connect students in the Westridge community through music.  Consisting of 15⁠–20 songs, there will be a brief history of two highlighted songs and their creative significance to me. Additionally, each playlist will revolve around the time of yearfor example, a fall mix or a playlist full of study favorites to get you through exam season. Maybe you’ll listen on your way to school, while you study, or just for fun! Mixed with Taylor Swift and 70s rock, my eclectic playlist may strike a chord with fellow Westridge students, get their toes tapping, and teach them a little about what they are listening to. 

Sugar Plum & Pudding Mix: Carolina’s December Edition playlists

Pudding Mix: Apple Music & Spotify 

Sugar Plum: Apple Music & Spotify

Surprise! This edition I have two playlists for you. Pudding Mix is a collection of my favorite holiday songs. My family celebrates Christmas, and every year I light the menorah with my cousins at least one of the eight nights of Hanukkah. Last year, I discovered a song by Angelique Kidjo that I love for Kwanzaa.

Winter is the mood of Sugar Plum, my second playlist. These are songs for all the cold and cozy vibes the holiday season brings.  

My favorite holiday song ever is “Last Christmas” by the British pop duo Wham!. The song was developed over a visit to George Michael’s parents and was written in his childhood bedroom. Michael was determined to have a No. 1 single and was sure “Last Christmas” would be it. The song was written and sung by George Michael and stayed at the #2 spot in the UK Charts for five consecutive weeks (right behind Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” which also featured Michael). The song finally charted at No. 1 in 2021, 36 years after it was released. 

Born out of Bushey in 1981, the duo consisting of Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael were one of the most successful pop acts of the ’80s. However, their funky club-inspired music was not an immediate hit, as the duo continued playing clubs after the release of their first album Fantastic. The release of their second album, Make it Big (talk about a mission statement) was a worldwide hit and charted at No. 1 on charts in the US and the UK. “Last Christmas” was released as a double A-side which included “Everything She Wants” from their album Make it Big. Wham! became associated with the second British Pop invasion in the United States with the help of MTV, and in 1985 the duo made a 10-day trip to China which was seen as a major turning point for the increasingly friendly relationship between China and the West. 

At the beginning of their career, Wham’s lyrics spoke to the disaffected youth, the unemployment problem in the UK, and the angst over adulthood. As both Michael and Andrew matured, their creative influences matured as well. Fantastic was a collaborative effort between the duo, but as their careers heightened, Michael began to take creative initiative in the studio. Michael was ready to create more sophisticated music and veer away from the primarily teenage audience. In 1986, Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael parted ways, and George went on to become one of the best-selling musicians of all time. 

All my life, I have been exposed to different Christmas songs. The first time I heard “Last Christmas,” I was blown away. Now you may be wondering, why is the song title “Last Christmas (Pudding Mix)” on my playlist? Two Christmases ago, my family and I were decorating the tree, the fire was burning, and KCRW was playing. Suddenly, I heard a twinkle of an intro that sounded so familiar, but I couldn’t figure out what the song was. Then the singer whispered, “Happy Christmas,” and the beat dropped. “Last Christmas” began to play. Completely forgetting this new intro, I began singing along. Fast forward four and a half minutes, the fire was still burning, and I put my first ornament on the tree. George’s voice was ringing throughout the house and I was happily singing along with him. I knew this song faded out after many high notes, but much to my surprise, the song carried on. George was singing lyrics I had never heard before, and I was beyond confused. Once the song ended, I listened to hear the radio host explain that this was the Pudding Mix. That’s when I learned that my favorite Christmas song could last an extra two minutes. Oh, joy!

The members of Wham! from left to right: George Michael & Andrew Ridgeley.
Wham! for the limited edition Last Christmas vinyl 1984.
Last Christmas album cover 1984.

My favorite song on the Sugar Plum playlist is “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas & the Papas. The song was written by John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas in 1963, and originally recorded by Barry McGuire (with the Mamas & the Papas singing back-up). In December of 1965, the Mamas & the Papas releasedCalifornia Dreamin’” as a single, and it became the best-known version. The lyrics tell the story of a character beaten down by an East Coast winter who wishes to leave the dreary cold for the warmth of California. 

“California Dreamin’” is the perfect example of the California sound, which originated with American pop and rock artists from Southern California in the early 1960s. This sound was a blend of pop, folk surf, and country music which was heavy on harmonies. The Mamas & the Papa’s was formed by husband and wife John and Michelle Phillips with Denny Doherty. The last member to join was Cass Elliot, who brought along her amazing vocal range. The quartet spent early spring and summer of 1965 in the Virgin Islands rehearsing and putting everything together for their debut album. “California Dreamin’” opens this album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, which was released in 1966. 

I love the Mamas & the Papas. As a kid, I remember dancing around our living room to Mama Cass and her beautiful voice. From what I can remember, this vinyl was always playing during the early days of December. The wood in the fireplace would be burning, the marshmallows would be overflowing from my hot cocoa and the pine scent of our Christmas tree was all around me. The guitar intro always makes my ears perk up. But my favorite part is the bluesy flute solo that is just so melodic, I can’t help singing along. 

The Mamas & the Papas from left to right: Denny Doherty, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips, Cass Elliot.
California Dreamin’ album art.
If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears album cover, released 1966.

*Joni Mitchell has select songs from her discography on Spotify. River is meant to be the sixth song on the Sugar Plum playlist.

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About the Contributor
Carolina H., Contributer
Carolina is a junior and joins the staff as a first-year contributor. Music is always in her ears: while she paints, embroiders, and collages the walls of her bedroom. Carolina is dancing around somewhere right now.

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