[Updated and Revised from Last Years list; Now with More Snark!]
It's ten days until Christmas, and you may have been inundated with Christmas music for the past month or so. It doesn't bother me as much these days. I used to be a real Scrooge when it came to Christmas music, but I think a lot of that was just posturing, trying to be "too cool" for Yule. Suffice it to say, if I had to pick a favorite holiday song in college, it would have been "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" by Sixpence None the Richer. (Which is a great track, by the way.)
I can now appreciate Christmas music a bit more. Age will do that to you. Plus, it seems these days like i'm losing touch with the excitement that the holidays always brought, so I try to hang on to it where i can. I'm not quite at the "non-stop carols from Thanksgiving to Christmas" level yet. (My mother lives at that level.) But I can definitely appreciate Christmas music a whole lot more.
However, that doesn't mean I like all Christmas music. In fact, certain songs still annoy and anger me--so much so that I feel it's my duty to unofficially indict these musical crimes and misdemeanors.
Here they are, then: PBB's List of Christmas-themed Musical Crimes.
[Disclaimer: If you like these songs, that's cool. If you think I'm being unnecessarily grumpy or negative, that's fine. Whatever, maybe I am, so what? These are the five songs that I avoid like the plague. Songs that make me turn the radio dial immediately, or off completely if they keep popping up. I'd rather listen to my truck engine idle than sit through these cheesefests ever again. But maybe it's just me, so whatever.]
Dishonorable Mention #1: "Jingle Bell Rock" by Billy Idol
Normally this song would be okay, but I take offence that it turned Billy Idol into this.
I hear he wanted to rewrite the first few lines:
I need a check
So many child support bills, I'm wrecked
Shredding my image
One song at a time
I'll do stupid things for a dime!
Dishonorable Mention #2: "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Dr. Elmo
Why is this song popular? Please, someone, anyone explain the appeal. Because what i've got is geriatric alcoholism and nearly-dead relatives. Not quite a laugh a minute. How has this song survived for almost 30 years?!?
Now the List...
#5: "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano
I almost didn't list this one, becuase really, it's harmless. But the sad fact is that this song is the "Margaritaville" of Christmas carols--everyone knows the words, everyone sings along with the song, and then everyone is deeply embarrassed afterwards. No Christmas carol should cause this much shame. And honestly, the lyrics aren't that inspiring. No magnificent angelic host, no inspiring star, no world laying pining in sin and error, no captive Israel. Just some dude saying Merry Christmas over and over and over. He doesn't even wish us a prosperous New year "from the bottom of his heart." What's up, Jose? Did you run out of sincere sentiment halfway through?
#4: "Santa Baby" by anyone who thinks it's still sexy.
With this song, you get one or two possible outcomes: the singer comes off as trashy and/or just plain sad. (Or in Kylie Minogue's case, able to speak dolphin.) Seriously, this is just painful. Memo to everyone singing this song ever: You are neither Cynthia Basinet nor Eartha Kitt. You will never sound like Cynthia Basinet or Eartha Kitt. Attempting to sing this song as if you were Cynthia Basinet or Eartha Kitt only demonstrates how ridiculous and incredibly annoying this song sounds. Plus, it makes you look sad and desperate. Please stop. For the love of Christmas, please stop.
#3: "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney
First, take everything remotely awesome about 80's synth music. Okay, ready? Now smash it with a candy cane until it's completely unrecognizable and repulsive. Once you're done with that, let it rot for about a year, and then set it on fire. Put out the flames with old pondwater, and then smother it with about 15 gallons of watered down vanilla frosting. What you'll have will still be more palatable than this turd, produced by one-fourth of the greatest band of the twentieth century.
The video is frightening and may in some subconscious way be intended to dissuade kids from doing drugs during the holidays. The disembodied piano-playing hands and the star people freak me out. At about 1:45 into the video, the Spanish Inquisition shows up (unexpected, natch). There's duelling Pauls, some kind of fire, angels vandalizing buildings. I'm giving you the high points here.
What stinks is that there is actually a decent version by Jars of Clay, but I can't enjoy it, because Sir Paul's original is forever tainted.
#2: "Happy Birthday Jesus"
Now at this point, you may be taken aback. "C'mon, Dave, really? You're taking shots at a song sung by sweet little kids?" Yes I am, and I'll explain why.
The main problem is the age paradox. This song could only be sung by small children, because the thought of adults singing it is ridiculous to the extreme. On the other hand, you suffer from the cloyingly sweet little girl's voice, with the thlight lithp of mithing teeth--including one point when she ventures into "Junior-Asparagus" land. Then you have the sweeping orchestration over the children's choir, repeating the EXACT SAME LINES before coming back down into the shaky-voiced (oh, i'm sorry, i meant tender) solo finale.
Obviously, if I were this child's parent, I would be beaming with pride. But it's hard to beam with pride at other people's kids. Have you actually tried going to an elementary school Christmas production lately? It's painful. You only care, you can only stand it, if you have a stake in the endeavour. I don't know this little girl. I'm sure she's a sweetheart. But just like I don't make a habit of seeking out bootlegged soundtracks to every elementary-school Christmas production starring cherubic little tykes in construction paper and cotton ball costumes, I don't want to listen to this dear little child sing a birthday song to Jee-ZAHS, makes no difference that the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir produced it.
I'm sorry, that's just the way I feel.
And now, the biggest Christmas stinker is...
#1: "The Christmas Shoes" by Newsong
If there were ever a tune deserving of criminal prosecution, it's this one--and I say this with absolutely no exaggeration. I can't even express how much I loathe this song. Some of these tracks annoy me, or stick in my mind like a burr that I can't remove. But this one makes me angry, to the point of minor violence. Why? Because it's expressly created to make you cry. A little boy is buying new shoes for his mother, so she'll be pretty when she dies and goes to Heaven tonight.
Holy. Freaking. Crap. And the kid can't afford the shoes, and a stranger buys them for him. For his mom who's dying of some unspecified disease. Because apparently Daddy can't get his butt to the store with his young son to buy the frigging shoes.
The stage-whispery vocals. The telegraphed musical swells at the bridge. The FREAKING CHILDREN'S CHOIR SINGING THE CHORUS AFTER THE BRIDGE!
AAARRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!! MUST SMASH!!!! MUST SMASH!!!!!!!!
I still hate you, Newsong. I still hate you very very much.
Up Next: "PBB's Top Five Favorite Christmas Songs." Because I'll need to prove that I do actually have a heart, after this tirade...