December 6, 2005

Bad Christmas songs.

They're hating on Christmas recordings over at Lean Left. And don't get all John Gibson about it. They don't object to any of the traditional carols. They're lighting into the Santa Claus-n-chestnuts material. I don't hang around in stores enough to get fed up with these things, so I don't have any particular recordings that drive me up the wall. Do you?


XWL said...

But, then I do my Christmas shopping on the 23rd or 24th.(At a music/dvd/bookstore usually so I don't suffer from over exposure, either)

wildaboutharrie said...

Anyone doing Jingle Bell Rock.

Janet Rae Montgomery said...

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

Richard Fagin said...

Anyone other than Bobby Helms doing Jingle Bell Rock

Steve Donohue said...

The Spice Girls have a number of quite annoying holiday selections. I also dislike the awkwardly sexual "Santa Baby".

Having worked in retail over the Christmas season, I'd be perfectly content to never hear another Christmas carol again in my life. And that is in no way hyperbole

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, "Santa Baby" make the chimney seem to refer to the vagina. Yikes!

Joe Giles said...

When Rosie O'Donnell has two Xmas albums out, oh yeah, the thing has gone too far.

tiggeril said...

I loathe Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.

Hate it. Hate it hate it hate it.

On the other hand, I love Carol of the Bells.

Oh, and whoever came up with those Christmas albums with the dogs barking the songs needs to be strung up by their toes.

reader_iam said...

True story:

A couple of years back, I was out Christmas shopping when "Santa Baby" came on over the rainbow.

Looking puzzled, he asked: "Mommy, why is that singer breathing funny? Is she sick"?

I've always hated that song, but now it makes me giggle.

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

Rainbow????? What the hell is that?

Word salad.

I must not have recovered yet from my rant on one of Ann's other threads.

Ann Althouse said...

"Over the rainbow"? Cool mistake.

reader_iam said...

"He" refers to my son, then 3-1/2.

Wade Garrett said...

The best part about the internet is that I can do my Christmas shopping without having to listen to this stuff.

Steve - I agree with you about Santa Baby, and add that sexuality isn't the only way in which these songs can be awkward. There are also the awkwardly uptempo/hard rock Christmas songs, and the awkwardly sincere hip-hop style songs!

Wade Garrett said...

I don't know how I forgot this one: Alvin & The Chipmunks!

Palladian said...

Hate Christmas songs. Hate, hate, hate. I actually like the more somber, religious ones, like Silent Night or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, but I HATE HATE HATE the happy, chestnuts and gingerbread and sleigh bells ones, and of course these are the ones that are played in retail stores. I actually have to wear my headphones and play "Art of the Fugue" at full volume to cover up the hateful songs because they bother me so much. I heard a particularly egregious one in a store the other day, I don't know who was singing but it was a contemporary one of the sparkling sugar cookie and wooden train variety, and I thought "what relevance does any of this have to contemporary life? Who actually hears sleigh bells? Who eats plates of sugar plums and sits around the hearth listening to the crack, crack, crackle of a Yule log? How long are we going to live in this nineteenth century fantasy Christmas?" Actually, Christmas is not the right term for this, as none of the new sleighing song mulled cider songs seem to call it Christmas. It's holiday time.

Anyway, as an antidote to all the sickening high fructose corn syrup music and atmosphere that's flogged around this "magical" time of year, I recommend the song "We Three Kings", particularly verse 4:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom
Sorr'wing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

I'm actually giving frankincense and myrrh resin as gifts this year. For a more expensive take on this clever gift idea, give the people you love a bottle each of Armani PrivĂ© Bois d’Encens and Serge Lutens' "La Myrrhe" perfume.

reader_iam said...

Oh nonononono--don't be dissin' my chip's!

Me, I want a huuuuuuu-la hooooop!

But then, I'm into the simple pleasures (the cheap ones, too).

sierra said...

No doubt about it: "Feliz Navidad / I Want To Wish You a Merry Christmas" by Jose Feliciano. Interminable.

Dave said...

Hip-hop "artists" "re-interpreting" Christmas music.

I.e., Beyonce Knowles et al shredding choral music.

Don't get me wrong: Knwoles is a very talented singer, when she sticks to her knitting. But she is neither a gospel nor a choral singer.

She should stick to R&B which she knows. Same for the rest of the hip-hop/R&B crew that do the same thing.

PatCA said...

Alvin & The Chipmunks! Aw, I've got a soft spot in my heart for them. Drove the parents crazy playing it over and over...

I like the old somber classical ones better, too.

Best part of being a Catholic kid: singing in the choir at Midnight Mass and coming down to Communion seeing people with tears in their eyes because it was so beautiful.

chuck b. said...

I hate a lot of Christmas music, most especially the Little Drummer Boy. A more monotonous, soul-sucking drone I have never heard. Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum. Me and my drum. DIE, DIE, DIE!!!

The are only two Christmas caroles I have any real affection for: Joy to the World, and Hark! The Herald Angel Sings. I find both totally beautiful, and I'm in no way a Christian. Go figure.

I especially like Joy to the World with kettle drum percussion and very loud singing. The best adjective for a good rendition of Joy should be 'vaulting'. I'd love to hear a Sacred Harp rendition. Does anyone else love Sacred Harp singing? Hmmm. I'm suddenly in the mood for Alan Lomax.

chuck b. said...

I think I mean "carol". :\

Interesting tidbit about Hark!:

“Hark the herald angels sing” was written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley founder of the Methodist church, in 1739. A sombre man, he requested slow and solemn music for his lyrics and thus “Hark the herald angels sing” was sung to a different tune initially. Over a hundred years later Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) composed a cantata in 1840 to commemorate Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. English musician William H. Cummings adapted Mendelssohn’s music to fit the lyrics of “Hark the herald angels sing” already written by Wesley.


reader_iam said...

Well, better a cool mistake than no ...

Wait, that doesn't work.

Anyway, I'll take my curtain calls where I can get 'em.

(Irritating wink emoticon)

Robert said...

"The Christmas Shoes" song. Plays heavily on Christian radio, which I especially enjoy this time of year because of all the old carols that they tend to play.

Makes me want to harm puppies. That's probably how Glenn got started.

PeterVE said...

I went to the optometrist last week for the first time. (Oh My God, I'm Going Blind!) They had a radio station which was playing only Christmas "music", the kind that's inoffensive enough to drive me up the wall. In a sea of holiday dreck, however, the Little Drummer Boy stands proud as the worst of all.

CCMCornell said...

Years ago before I started school, I worked at a Macy's where they started holiday music the day after Thanksgiving until winter inventory in early February! A couple of years later I visited my ex-coworkers. Apparently, there was some fad centered around a singing and dancing Santa. Word was that Walter, a 50-something retired merchant marine, didn't make it until Christmas before he grabbed the running display and smashed it back in the stock room.

These days I'll listen to any carolling for a while just to get into the spirit and avoid winter/holiday depression.

As far as R&B/hip-hop Christmas music mentioned earlier, I like Run DMC's Christmas in Hollis:

It was December 24th on Hollis Ave in the dark
When I see a man chilling with his dog in the park
I approached very slowly with my heart full of fear
Looked at his dog oh my God an ill reindeer

Joan said...

There's just so much to hate out there. Here are my least favorites, in no particular order:

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: My biggest problem with this song is the violent death of a beloved family member on Christmas eve. Next up is that lyric, "Some folks say there's no such thing as Santa," which really tripped up my kids.

Santa Baby for all the reasons already stated.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Not as bad as Santa Baby, but close. Is Mommy having an affair, or what?

I'm sorry to say: Holly Jolly Christmas, just because I've heard it a hundred times already and it's still the first week of December. Usually I like that one.

I love all the traditional carols, especially the minor key ones, like We Three Kings and Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanual, not to mention What Child Is This aka "Greensleeves."

But I have an soft spot in my heart for Emerson Lake & Palmer's Father Christmas, in the (sort of) rock category. Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town is sweet, too.

Best Christmas album? Hands down, Vince Garaldi's Charlie Brown Christmas.

mango said...

My list:

O Tannenbaum -- If you're planning a festive funeral, this is the way to go. Otherwise, No Tannenbaum.

Anything written since 1900.

Especially "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."

I'm also not a big fan of either version of "Away in a Manger."

Generally speaking, I prefer my carols to be of Germanic origin (grew up Lutheran) and I like 'em old. If I can sing them in Latin, or German or minor or madrigals, that makes me happy. If it sounds inappropriate on an organ (or boys choir or handbells), it's inappropriate for Christmas.

CCMCornell said...

I know some are complaining about particular songs they generally dislike, but where are you all hearing Christmas songs a hundred times each already? The malls? I think I saw carol singers once on the Ithaca Commons (a commercial pedestrian area) and that's about it. I guess I haven't been to the mall recently, but I still can't figure out where some of you have already carolled yourselves out.

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

Tiggeril likes "Carol of the Bells" and I have to admit I can listen to that any time of year cause I love it so. I have about seven versions on my mp3 player that I run back to back, including: Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Boston Pops, Vienna Boys Choir, Michael Crawford and Manheim Steamroller (ewe, but I could not help myself, cause it's "Carol of the Bells").

katiebakes said...

This isn't answering Ann's question, but no song gives me goosebumps quite like "O Holy Night" when sung at Christmas Eve midnight mass. The fall on your knees part almost compels me to do so.

bill said...

Worst ever? Gotta be A Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney. I'll take the barking dogs 24 hours a day before I ever listen to that crap again.

Here's a couple I CAN listen to all day:
Christmas Wrapping The Waitresses

The Nutcracker Suite as arranged by Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn

Henry said...

Barbara Streisand's Christmas Album. All of it. Every last song.

Truly said...

Barnes & Noble was tormenting its clientele yesterday with Diana Krall singing weirdly jazzed-up versions of Christmas songs (not carols). In addition to having to suffer through this performance--which finally drove me from the store--I was quite disappointed in Ms. Krall. I thought she had more sense than that.

My favorite Christmas carol/hymn is "Hodie", a Latin hymn by Gabrieli (I think) that I'd never heard until a few years ago. The Cambridge Singers do a particularly lovely rendition.

I'd go so far as to say that not only is it an outstanding Christmas hymn, but one of the finests hymns, period.

Sissy Willis said...

Musak and its offspring are by definition bad. Why can't I shop without someone else's choice of background noise forever polluting the air?

Joan said...

CMCornell: I have physical therapy three times a week, and the office manager has been fighting with the staff over which music to play. She wants the Christmas stuff, but the staff and patients want something else, anything else. On Monday we staged a coup and changed the station in the middle of my session. I don't think I can take another "Holly Jolly Christmas." It's astonishing how many songs can be crammed into an hour, and how often over the course of a few days you'll hear the same songs repeated.

jeff said...

I flat out love Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas stuff - any and all of it. Uptempo, invigorating and still wonderful.

What I hate are when they decide to go with alternate, usually atonal, melodies. Angels We Have Heard On High is one of these - the original version is great, the Michael W. Smith version is catchy.... but one of the worship leaders at church insists on doing what I think is a harmony as the melody, which is annoying.

CCMCornell said...

Joan: It seems that you won your case to change the station, but if it comes up again just tell them that it's detrimental to your mental health and you want a partial refund!

In Ithaca, there's only like...uhm 3 radio stations and I haven't heard any Christmas music on them. Growing up in northern NJ, I don't remember holiday music being on the radio, except maybe Sandler's Hannukah Song on 92.3 krock (Howard Stern's home station). Maybe I've been listening to the wrong - no - right stations.

Performing Bear said...

The best Christmas song of all time is "You Shattered My Christmas" by Phil Gnarly and the Tough Guys. The second best is "Merry Christmas" by NRBQ.

Kev said...

I'm late to the party on this one, so nobody will read it except for Ann, in the email, in all likelihood.

I heard a really bad Christmas album playing yesterday in a CD store; I have no idea what it was (and didn't want to ask), but it mostly involved reggae beats and some sort of sampled farm animals (yes, they had dogs doing "Jingle Bells," but it wasn't the famous recording), most of which were pigs and sheep...weird. My friend who was with me put it best when he said he could've gone his entire life without hearing that.

Denise said...

The best Holiday CD by far is from Kasio Kristmas.

They do the all time coolest and weirdest versions of the classics. People freak out everytime I play it. Especially the Disco version of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer!

My friends are getting a copies as early xmas gifts for sure.