Monday, December 10, 2007
Lousy Christmas Music: A Seasonal Snark
Bowing to the inevitable, I've spent far too much time lately shopping. Which means...
The aural assault of cheesy Christmas music has begun.
I'll admit, having been raised in a musically unfortunate household (Neil Diamond, Anne Murray, Rita Coolidge, Air Supply), I'm a little jumpy when it comes to awful music. Part of the reason I grabbed onto satellite radio the way drowning people grab onto life preservers was that it offered the prospect of escaping the tyranny of Lite Hits and NPR pledge drives.
But this time of year, there is no escape. And the Lite Hits stations are at their worst, replacing the boring-but-tolerable (Avril Lavigne, Matchbox Twenty) with music so awful that I have an actual physical reaction.
The worst, I think, is “Christmas in Sarajevo,” by Mannheim Steamroller. When I hear this, I actually feel capable of violence. Mostly against Mannheim Steamroller. It's as if you took the soundtrack to a series of beer commercials, ran it through a blender, and added chimes. It's like John Tesh meets Yanni, without the subtlety. Every time a radio station plays this, the baby Jesus cries.
“Feliz Navidad,” by Jose Feliciano, gets my hand to the 'off' button at warp speed. I'm all for cultural inclusiveness, but crap is crap.
And that #*(%&)#% Paul McCartney song – the one where he keeps repeating “simply, simply” -- simply induces nausea. That's not hyperbole. I actually feel sick to my stomach when I hear that song.
Honesty, I'd rather hear the dogs bark “Jingle Bells.”
The Christmas songs that don't bother me are the ones clearly intended for kids. “Frosty the Snowman,” especially the original, is disarmingly sweet, as is “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The Charlie Brown songs are lovely. And there's nothing wrong with “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.”
For adults, the classic carols are perfectly fine, if a bit predictable. And some songs just sound like Christmas songs, even if they aren't. (“Better Days,” by the Goo Goo Dolls, sounds like a Christmas song to me.) I'll even cop to liking Adam Sandler's “Hanukkah Song,” though I think slightly less of myself for it. And Bob and Doug McKenzie's version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a neglected classic.
But if I hear that #*%@)% McCartney song one more time...
What Christmas songs drive you around the bend? What's your nominee for Most Annoying Christmas Song?
"I am Santa Claus" (sung to the tune of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man"
Very bad. Very fun.
"Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt
"Santa Claus got stuck in my chimney" by Ella Fitzgerald
"Zat you Santa Claus?" by the Brian Setzer Orchestra
"Baby it's cold outside" by Dean Martin
There's really nothing like good, old-fashioned big band music. I also like to belt out Handel's Messiah (even though I'm an atheist; the music is just damn good).
And now it's back. Thanks, DD.
Things I avoid during this season:
1. All handbell choirs. Handbells were invented for people who love music but (a) Can't sing; and more dangerously (b) can't count. If you like watching specatcular car crashes, a concert of handbells has your name on it.
2. The Messiah. Over done, badly done, and there are endless drunken versions. Bleh. Unfortunately, pitch is an exact place not a general region--too bad neither the choir, orchestra, or in many instances the soloists, can find it. To me, the musical effect is similar to tossing 50 kittens in a blender. (and JUST as evil).
3. Any office Christmas parties with live music. This gives the drunks in the firm the opportunitiy to harrass the underpaid musicians. Been on the receiving end of this--endless times. Run Bambi!
My Christmas present to the world that year was not beating everyone in the store to death with a frying pan.
Hearing "Feliz Navidad" still gives me ths shakes. Brrr...
Also, Mariah Carey's Joy to the World, which for some reason finds it necessary to launch in to the non-Christmas Joy to the World half-way through (aka Jeremiah was a Bullfrog)
A very close second is the one posted by joea1776 - "The Christmas Shoes".
Since my husband and I are interfaith, my compromise is to listen to very esoteric Christmas music (the Christmas Revels albums are favorites). My latest happy acquisition is a klezmer Christmas album called "Oy to the World".
That said, and this is counter-intuitive I know, but I resent university choirs performing "vespers" on campus. Are we a religious school? I mean, really, vespers?? Ick. I listen to Christmas music on my own time, and in my personal space, not in my state-funded recital hall.
But, yeah, the Band Aid song annoys the hell out of me. Especially the part where they sing "so they even know it's Christmas time at all." So unbelievably condescending and paternalistic.
But "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is a close second.
Oh, and I can't believe nobody's said it yet - the 12 days of Christmas is HORRIBLE.
Speaking of which, ever hear Jorge Jorgenson sing "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas"? It is the perfect song for Black Friday shopping. I should transcribe it to my blog when I find my Round Tuit.
I am, however, quite partial to John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)." Here's a YouTube link
I must be lucky, as I'm not at all familiar with either the McCartney or the Christmas Shoes songs.
I'm a sucker, OTOH, for the handbell choir thing, traditional music, or Nat King Cole. :)
last christmas I gave you my heart, the very next day you gave it away, this christmas, I'll save it for someone speh hu shull.
That song makes me want to throw things. Also, a tune that goes:
I'm the happiest christmas tree ho ho ho hee hee hee, which I suspect is burl ives. Kill me now.
also with you on hating the transiberian whatever the hell it is and the whole simply having a wonderful christmastime horror.
(O Nii-hiight diviiiiIIIIIIIIIIne)
Haven't heard the Sarajevo song though.
Also really good, but resisting my attempts to track it down is the Louis Armstrong "Zat you Santa Claus". I heard an excerpt on some TV show - House or West Wing - but haven't been able to locate it since.
There's a lot cringe-worthy out there too though. One of the reasons I almost never listen to the radio, preferring to set my own playlists.
Songs I like:
"2000 Miles" -- The Pretenders
"River" -- Joni Mitchell
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (the Judy Garland version)
I can't stand the McCarteney, Band Aid, The Italian Christmas Donkey, and some of the new faster versions of Silver Bells
I love Mariah Carey's All I want for christmas, except it has not been playing that much. Martina McBride and Harry Connick Jr. have some good stuff also.
Dean Dad, we must be listening to the same regional stations or the entire country's lite stations are on 24/7 Christmas music.
I shop 100% on line and don't listen to public radio. I do have some cheapo Christmas CDs with Holly Jolly Christmas, the barking dogs, etc. The kids love this obscure Jerry Lewis song where he complains about all his presents!
I guess in comparison I am doing alright. I like all the old crooners doing Christmas songs and of course, the Charlie Brown Christmas album.
Love the Roches Christmas album, though. And also Elvis.
Band Aid's "Do they know it's Christmas?" for the energy and inspiration.
I particularly like the live version from the Live Aid concert when Bob Geldof says "This might be a cock up. But if you're going to cock things up, you might as well do it with the whole world watching!" They hadn't rehearsed the song so the mikes and tunefulness didn't quite work, but who cares!
The line "And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas" is not intended to be patronising, but to remind people in England to think of others (There's a world outside your window)
Christmas begins for me the first time I hear Snoopy's Christmas (Christmas Bells!)
I love the Christmas song from Love Actually. All I want for Christmas, is You.
I would recommend though that you not pass judgment on their tune, separate from the body/album that contained it. TSO likes to tell a story with their music, and that song is no different.
Of course, to each their own. Heck, I heard some people actually prefer Family Guy over Futurama.
(found while looking for something off-the-wall to grade to this afternoon)
The McCartney one sucks as does the "Last Christmas" and Band Aid songs.
I have not heard the Christmas Shoes song, and it looks like I'm glad that I haven't.
But, I hate, hate, hate, hate Bruce String-bean's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" for three reasons: dumbass "The Boss" always looks and sounds like he's constipated and in pain, he cannot sing to save his ass, and he's laughing through the song -- none of which is funny.
Oh, and I hate the version of "Rudolph" where some dumbass calls him Rudy. Gah!
The one stupid song that I find -- much to my shock and horror -- growing on me is the Barenaked Ladies' rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." I'm duly embarrassed by this last point.