Villagers have teamed up with vocalist Lisa Hannigan for a cover of the Christmas classic ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ – check it out below.
The serene cover of the festive track comes after the Irish indie folk band announced their largest-ever headline show to date at Dublin’s Trinity College on June 29, 2024.
Speaking about the song choice in a press release, Villagers’ frontman Conor O’Brien said: “Since I was a little boy this song by Katherine Kennicott Davis has captured my imagination more than any other Christmas carol. Such a dream to perform it alongside the incomparable voice of Lisa Hannigan.”
Composed in 1941 by Katherine Kennicott Davis, ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ – originally known as ‘Carol Of The Drum’ – has become a holiday staple. Many have speculated that the song is loosely based on the Czech carol ‘Hajej, nynjej’.
In an interview with Claire Fontijn, the Music Department Chair at at Davis’s alma mater Wellesley College, Fontijn revealed that the inspiration for ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ came to Davis in 1941.
“[One day], when she was trying to take a nap, she was obsessed with this song that came into her head and it was supposed to have been inspired by a French song, ‘Patapan,’ and then ‘patapan’ translated in her mind to ‘pa-rum-pum-pum,’ and it took on a rhythm. The result was ‘The Little Drummer Boy’,” Fontijn said.
The most famous cover of the Christmas carol is by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Titled ‘Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy’, the track was recorded in 1977 for Crosby’s television special Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas.
The song sees Crosby sing ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ while Bowie joins in with ‘Peace on Earth’, which was written by the special’s musical supervisors Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman and scriptwriter Buz Kohan, specifically for the collaboration. The duet marked one of Crosby’s final recordings prior to his death in October 1977.
‘Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy’ was released as a single by RCA Records in 1982 and became a commercial success, peaking at Number Three on the UK Singles Chart. It was Crosby’s final popular hit and became one of the best selling singles of Bowie’s career. The single’s total estimated sales reached over 400,000 in the UK.
The duet has become a Christmas staple within the US, UK and Canada and has been called “one of the most successful duets in Christmas music history” by The Washington Post.
In other Christmas news, replications of the snowman scarf that Bowie once wore during his famous introduction to the 1982 adaptation of The Snowman are now available for purchase.
The legendary scarf – which is priced at £19.99 – was inspired by the one seen on Bowie which he wore in his own attic during the filmed introduction to The Snowman when the animation was first broadcast in the US.