02 December 2006

The Christmas Song(s)

I love Christmas something fierce. I come from a long line of ridiculously silly Christmas-lovers. But in spite of - or maybe because of - this, there are a few things that are just awful about it. And worse than mall parking, or Bath & Body Works gift sets, or the unaccountable lure of candy canes ... worse yet than all of these are bad Christmas songs. Like these.

"Little Drummer Boy". It isn't possible to sing "barumpapumpum, rumpapumpum, rumpapumpum" with a straight face if you have any sense of humor. It's weird. And it's even weirder when it's Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing it to each other.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Exactly how is parental infidelity so cute and festive? Plus, it was covered by Michael Jackson. Creepy.

Band Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" 1984, 1989, 2004: all of them. I've written about this before, but it remains hateful. No, there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas. Or the next one. No, they don't know it's Christmas. And they don't care. They're too concerned about starving to death to be interested in meteorology or your Anglo holiday. Shut up.

Newsong, "The Christmas Shoes". Band Aid is bad, but this one is the worst ever. See, I'm stupid mushy. I'm a sucker. But when you beat me bloody over the head with the most awful schmaltz in the world, I'm not going to cry, I'm just going to hate you. What kind of little kid buys his mother shoes? And is it really a good message to imply that Jesus is going to care about your footwear? It's weird, and poor theology, and hateful, all wrapped up into one. Awful.

Also, "funny" songs. By which I mean, songs that think they are funny but aren't. Dominic the chingity-chinging donkey knows what I'm talking about. So does that guy who sings the 12 days of putting up Christmas lights. And Grandma definitely knows. I hate these songs.

(And I also kind of hate people who think they're funny. These are the people who buy Maxine cards from Hallmark and send email forwards with animated sparkles and cutesy animal clip art. We can never be friends. But I digress.)

There are definitely Christmas high points, musically, though.

Like funny songs that actually are funny. South Park, "Merry Fucking Christmas". Or Veggie Tales, "Oh Santa". Or really their whole specials. South Park and Veggie Tales can make all the funny Christmas songs they want.

And the good stuff: classics sung by people who know what they're doing. Anything by a choir with an orchestra. Anything by people who made everything sound good, like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett. Anything by Christina Aguilera, Charlotte Church, or pre-Bobby Whitney Houston, because they just sing like angels. Anything from Motown. And anything by those people who I think only made Christmas music, like Burl Ives, Perry Como and Mitch Miller.

And extra-specially, either Mariah Carey or Olivia Olson, "All I Want for Christmas Is You". The first version reminds me of my very first concert ever. (It was the pre-show video loop at the Z100 Acoustic Christmas at Madison Square Garden, December 5, 1994, where I saw Green Day, Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Hole and Weezer. Yeah. Mock away; it was great. But I digress again.) The second is from one of my favorite movies ever. And both are on really good albums. If I had a favorite Christmas song, this might be it.

Or maybe Melissa Etheridge's cover of "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)". Or anything from the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas CD. Or... well, the point is, there's lots of good stuff. Anyway. Go get Christmassy. Scoot, now. Only three more weeks!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My favorite is Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Carol of the Bells

Beth said...

Here is a great essay on Christmas songs if you haven't already seen it (I suspect you have)...

http://www.tomatonation.com/xmassongs.shtml

best ever.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah said...

Oooh, I don't remember seeing this - thank you! Sarah Bunting is a genius. The Girl's Bike Club is fantastic, and her Thanksgiving essay was hysterical.

beth said...

Yay, glad I was able to share something new. She is a genius. I used to read TN more regularly when I had time on my hands. Not so much anymore.