Come January, I’ll be singing a different tune
December 15, 2004
by Joey Crandall
So, I have acquired a few bizarre habits along the way.
And by bizarre I basically mean bad, but for the rest of this column, we’ll just refer to it as quirky, OK?
The “quirk” I get called out on the most is the fact that I actually listen to the All Christmas Music All The Time Radio Station (Which shall remain anonymous to protect the safety of the stations’ managers) from the week before Thanksgiving to the week after New Years’.
Now, as we all know, there have only been 20 Christmas songs ever written. So, the trick to providing a month’s worth of radio programming is to get every artist in the history of music to weigh in with a cover of at least one of these songs.
Thus you end up with every jazzed-up, double-timed, tooled-out version of all 20 songs in every possible key and mode of the sonic spectrum just about every two hours.
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The funniest misconception about Christmas music is that it somehow puts people in the Holiday spirit, filling them with cheer and good will toward men.
Seriously, has anyone ever actually listened to these songs?
It would seem that sometime over the last 40 years, songwriters started using the guise of a sweet Christmas carol to pour out their left-over childhood angst from having to see one of those terrifying Mall Santas every single December until they were 15 years old.
This is some traumatic stuff. A couple samples (Go ahead, sing along … You know you want to!):
“Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house Christmas Eve.”
“And when that blue heartache starts hurtin’, you’ll be doin’ all right, with your Christmas of white, but I’ll have a blue, blue Christmas.”
“Please come home for Christmas. My baby’s gone. I have no friends …”
“Frosty the Snowman knew the sun was hot that day. So he said let’s run and we’ll have some fun before I melt away.”
“Everybody pauses and stares at me, these two teeth are gone as you can see. I don’t know just who to blame for this catastrophe.”
“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart and the very next day you gave it away … A crowded room, filled with tired eyes. I’m hiding from you and your soul of ice.”
“Fa la la la la la la la … la.”
So, gathering all of my collective knowledge on the subject (keep in mind that I actually really do enjoy Christmas music, much in the same way I enjoy chocolate Ovaltine or Fourth of July Twilight Zone Marathons … I have no real explanation, I’m just easily amused.), I’ve whittled out the five absolute worst Christmas songs of all time. We’re talking worse than the Outback commercial where John Madden and Dale Jarrett sing “Santa’s got a whole lot of sacks, and it’s only the first quarter.”
So, in no particular order, the winners are:
— Baby, It’s Cold Outside, James Taylor & Natalie Cole. It may have just been me, but this holiday duet goes along beautifully until an instrumental refrain where the normally good-natured and soft-spoken Taylor snaps at Cole in a noticeably annoyed tone, “Hey! What are you doing putting that jacket on?”
— Deck the Halls, Mannheim Steamroller. It honestly sounds like this power-synthesized instrumental was initially recorded for the soundtrack to the never-released ‘Rocky VI,’ where Sylvester Stallone is forced to defend his heavyweight title against Santa Claus, played by a young Mike Tyson, after a gang of elves kidnaps Uncle Paulie.
— Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late), Alvin and the Chipmunks. Come on Alvin, get over the hula-hoop already! Look around the store. Isn’t there anything else you want? An X-Box maybe? Plasma screen TV? Some slot-car racing tracks? A bundle of Celery?
— Winter Wonderland, The Eurythmics. Only this year did it don on me that Parson Brown is not a color. The goal of any artist covering a Christmas carol is to put some sort of new and fresh spin on it. The idea here was apparently to set Annie Lennox singing to background music taken directly from one of those bopper ball machines you see when you’re heading into the grocery store.
— Steve Urkel sings the Macarena. This song has nothing to do with Christmas, and to the best of my knowledge does not actually exist. But I had a nightmare about it the other night doubtlessly due to me having listened to Christmas music for the last 356 consecutive waking hours of my life, so it qualifies for the list.
The dogs barking “Jingle Bells” was a front-runner for the worst Christmas song of all time, but unfortunately was stolen away as an honoree for next month’s Five All-Time Worst Songs Sung By Live Animals or Car Parts list.
— Joey Crandall can be reached at email@example.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.