A Blog post in today’s New York Times which discusses which Christmas songs should be put out to pasture got me to thinking about which traditional songs, shows, etc. could be considered the most annoying – from my own point of view, of course. Please feel free to comment freely and often – let’s get this debate party started!
First of all, there should be a moratorium placed on the playing of any festive music before the 15th of November – even if some of it is good, by the time xmas rolls around we are so psychologically damaged by the repetitive playing of good tidings that we would probably welcome the relative solitude of Guananamo Bay. Brainwashing us to be happy is still brainwashing.
When I was young, my family had a simple tradition: light the tree, start a nice, roaring fire and turn the winnebago-sized console stereo to our local radio station to enjoy some nice xmas music. I’d sit with my hot chocolate, waiting for the NORAD Santa tracking reports, ready to dash for my bed at the slightest hint of sleigh bells. Inevitably, something horrible would intrude on ths most peaceful and pleasant night of family togetherness: a little spoken word recording of something called The Littlest Angel, or something like that. The single most depressing collection of words ever, read by a deep-voiced narrator who seemed on the verge of tears, it was a recording that nearly every year drove my family to the brink of mass suicide – would you like a little arsenic in that hot chocolate? Yes, please. I don’t even remember what it’s about, other than a dead child and a box full of his possessions that got sent to the wrong destination or something – yes, even in heaven, there is lost luggage. If this is still being played somewhere, it’s no wonder more people are reputed to kill themselves during the holidays.
Frosty the Snowman – there’s no better cartoon to motivate me to turn up the heat in my home. While the Grinch and Charlie Brown (except for the Linus speech) remain treasured memories that make me want to watch them every year, Frosty is just saccharine enough, with just enough uncomfortable subtext, to render it unwatchable for me. For starters, none of these children apparently have parents – Karen’s trip north with Frosty seems to be nobody’s problem in particular. Sure, no issue at all – someone’s daughter has just illegally jumped on board a train with an inhuman snow homonculus – what’s to worry about? That, combined with the fact that every adult in the cartoon is incompetent or borderline retarded, makes this utterly unwatchable. Don’t even get me started on the ‘sequel’. It’s a sad tribute to the talent of Jonathan Winters that this is ever repeated. Oh, and while I’m at it: was there anyone ever who actually thought Jimmy Durante could sing? He would have been right at home with Rod Stewart and Kim Carnes in Laryngitis Theatre.
The following list of songs will be those banned immediately upon the inauguration of my administration:
- Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: Is it just me, or does Brenda Lee sound like her sinuses have fallen into her neck? Completely cringe-worthy, in my opinion;
- Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: c’mon, this one is self-explanatory. Somewhere, there’s one guy who likes this – let’s give him a copy and spare the rest of us the agony;
- Santa Baby: By all means, let’s reinforce the association of Charistmas and naked, unfettered greed! Ho, ho, ho.. and I do mean ‘ho’;
- Any song with “Christmas” in the title that has nothing to do with Christmas, e.g.: Last Christmas by Wham! The need for a two-syllable word does not justify the inclusion of the name of the holiday in your lyrics;
- Baby it’s Cold Outside: while not technically a Christmas song, it was pointed out by a commenter in the NYT as being a great date rape song – so, it’s out;
- The Twelve Days of Christmas, and no, sorry, not even the Bob and Doug version will be saved. Ok, you can play that one once on a designated day at a designated hour, then it goes back in the sleeve – this will be known as the “Take off and take it off” rule;
- Silent Night: seriously, is there anyone who isn’t sick of this? The new jazzed-up version on the commercial will be shot and burned, along with whatever his name is, De’Angelo or whatever. Just don’t tell him we’re responsible, as I think he may be a good fella, if you know what I mean;
- Blue Christmas: Elvis is dead. Accept it, and stop pissing on his corpse by playing this over and over;
- Anything, and I mean anything by Boney M;
- Jingle Bell Rock: No it isn’t, and no, it doesn’t;
- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Let’s not celebrate children witnessing extramarital affairs, that just seems wrong. It strikes me as odd that the kid seems ok with it. Come to think of it, is this the kid who shortly thereafter requires the replacement of two front teeth? Dysfunctional families are not festive. Plus, They Might Be Giants did it better with Santa’s Beard;
- Snoopy’s Christmas (Snoopy vs. the Red Baron): If I may, I’d like to (ahem) shoot this one down for good;
- Any “All-Star” songs, like those performed by Band-Aid or Northern Lights have long since stopped serving any useful purpose. The sole redeeming moment is in the televised documentary for Northern Lights, after legend Neil Young sings his line, and the engineer (or whoever) says from the booth that it was a little flat. Neil Replies: “That’s my style, man.” Yes it is, Neil, yes it is;
- Whatever that atrocity is that describes the heroic deeds of “Ding-A-Ling the Christmas Bell”. All copies, and Ding-A-Ling himself, will be melted down and the resulting ingot dropped on the composer;
- Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town: no, just…no. The band sounds like it is laying in wait for Santa with knives;
- Do You Hear What I Hear: If so, you are obviously not drinking enough;
- Feliz Navidad: I heard this recently and realized just how annoying this was. Ok, I appreciate other cultures and other languages, but come on! This is the same phrase repeated 300 times – that’s not a lyric, that’s a vocal compulsion;
- I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas: trust me kid, no you don’t. Those things are vicious;
- The Little Drummer Boy: even as a child, my family were primarily using this as a basis for obscene versions (the fact that ‘drum’ rhymes with ‘bum’ being the height of comedy styling when I was eight), so let’s just play this one off for good;
- That idiotic Christmas song by the Beach Boys, Little Saint Nick or some such. I am particularly annoyed by the refrain “Christmas comes this time each year”. Thank you, Brian Wilson, for your insight, but I have a calendar, and it was working properly when last I looked.
Now, there’s some stuff that needs to stick around, for example, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, which may strike some readers as an odd choice, given my atheist leanings, but it is a beautiful tune (and is thus responsible for my capitalizing the ‘G’ in god, which I generally refuse to do). Plus, it hasn’t been done to death – the version in Mr. Bean’s Christmas special shows how well it still works. The animated Robbie the Reindeer specials are hilarious and should be classics – and shall be designated so once my regime takes office. Also, there was one on a week ago about Santa’s elves who were responsible for securing the scene before Santa’s arrival, that was a hilarious pastiche of Christmas cheer and Mission: Impossible-style antics. If anyone remembers the name of this, I’d appreciate it.
Anyway, this is a partial list at best, and I invite everyone to vent their anger and put in two cents’ worth of cheer or venom, whatever works for you.
Oh, and what do I want for xmas? The opportunity to write for publication. A column, a commentary, whatever – I’d just appreciate the opportunity. I’m hoping one or more of our readers could help me out with that. Pointers, names, or just a straight up chance to establish myself, that’s all I need. Blatant plug complete, thank you for your patience.
Happy Holidays to my esteemed colleagues, and particularly to our readers, without whom we would just be talking to ourselves.