Friday, December 24, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Merry

Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year.  This year, I believe I heard the first notes of Christmas music around October 15.  Shortly after that, red, green, and gold started adorning windows and counters and just about anything that wasn't able to run away on its own.  I really love Christmas, but I have to say, this oversaturation is getting more and more out of control each year. 

The one Christmas phenonmenon that really drives me bananas is "Christmas music." I don't mean O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, or even Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  I'm talking about such earsplitting dittys as Christmas Shoes (the story of a poor child who wants nothing more than to buy his dying mother a pair of new shoes for Christmas -- a real spirit-lifter), Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses (which tells about the near misses of a silver-tongued woman and "the guy I'd been chasing all year"), and my personal favorite, the vomit-inducing  "Christmas Eve in Washington."  This last one is really trite and pompous, and that's coming from a Washingtonian.  With such astute lyrics as, "It's Christmas Eve in Washington, America's hometown. It's here that freedom lives and peace can stand her ground." No. I didn't make that up. 

Some of the truly awful songs aren't about the actual song, but about the delivery.  For example, Madonna's version of Santa Baby is particularly cringe-worthy.  Also bad is Barbra Streisand's manic Jingle Bells, where it sounds like the record is skipping . . . but no, it's just Babs having a musical seizure.  And any song by Josh Groban, Celine Dion, or Amy Grant. 

Of course, this is all subjective, and I realize that two of my most favorite Christmas songs are universally poo-pooed.  I can't help it, but I love Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer . . . not for its clever lyrics ("She'd been drinkin' too much egg nog. And we'd begged her not to go. But she'd forgot her medication, and she staggered out the door into the snow") but because my own, now-departed grandmother got such a kick out of it.  Another of my favorites is the condescending Feed the World, which was an anti-hunger anthem of the 80s and brags "There won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime," and "Well tonight, thank God it's them instead of you." But despite it's lyrical offenses, there's something pretty cool about all those stars coming together for a common cause (before Michael Jackson dreamed it up for We Are the World). 

But really, the issue isn't what songs are good and what ones aren't . . . because none of them are good when played nonstop for 2 1/2 months straight (I'm looking at you WASH FM) and then put away suddenly on December 26th as if they'd never existed, only to return sometime in the late-summer the following year.  I'll leave you with my favorite Christmas song of all time, Judy Garland from Meet Me In St. Louis with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. If that doesn't get ya, nothing will.

What are your favorite (and most cringe-worthy) Christmas songs?


  1. The Waitresses Christmas Wrapping is one of my favorites :) But i don't want to hear it until about December 7th ....

  2. Agreed...overplay and too early are the biggest problems. I can take most of it at least once, but I do have my favorites.

  3. I heard the beginning whines of Madonna's Santa Baby, gagged and quickly turned it off.

    At the end of October I was talking to a stranger at the store and stopped, mid-conversation, and asked if she heard Christmas music. She said she did. I said, "thank god, I thought I was having a seizure!"