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?