Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Christmas Eve (and these shoes are just her size)

With Christmas virtually upon us, no doubt many of you—myself especially—have been flooded with Christmas music at all turns. As the number of days before Christmas have become shorter, an inverse proportion of Christmas songs has risen both in number and ubiquitousness, starting as simple musak instrumentals playing over the PA in the mall and culminating in the 100 Hours of Christmas on 100.3 FM, "Utah's Official Christmas Radio Station"—a claim that is as perplexing as it is unfounded, as I doubt FM100 has endorsement from either the state of Utah or the holiday of Christmas. How one even gets an endorsement from a holiday is beyond me.

Utah's Official Arbor Day Stud
During the barrage of Christmas music, we are occasionally exposed to a legitimately good tune. The Ukranian Bell Carol is probably the coolest thing to come out of eastern Europe, and Handel's Messiah is phenomenal—especially when given the fact that it was written in 24 days. Sadly, for every good Christmas song out there, there are a bevy of horrible ones. And while discussing songs such as Have a Funky, Funky Christmas by New Kids on the Block would be fun, the real problem is not songs like it; for they come and are forgotten quickly. Nay, dear readers, the problem lies in the songs that are absolutely wretched, but are still played every year.

Pictured: the best version of Carol of the Bells
Wonderful Christmastime
Paul McCartney, 1979
While it is a well-known fact that the Beatles are dying in reverse-coolness order—and, as such, Paul McCartney will live forever, as he never had even an ounce of cool—there are some things that Sir Paul has done that are beyond reproach. While the project known as Wings was quite possibly one of the worst "bands" ever, McCartney performed the ultimate sin against mankind when he released Wonderful Christmastime. I understand that synthesizers were getting big in the late 70s, but Wonderful Christmastime has more synth than the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Paul, Paul, Paul... even The Simpsons couldn't make you cool.
Last Christmas
Wham!, 1984
Wham!, the band made of George Michael and the other guy, have a very interesting song repertoire. They have released some really good music (Careless Whisper comes to mind), and they have released some really bad music (Bad Boys, I am looking in your direction). But they took the plunge in 1984 with Last Christmas, a song that is not only one of the most annoying songs of all time—a statement proven by the fact that anyone, anywhere can hum the melody, even if they hate it—but being a completely vindictive and harsh song with the theme of "You are a cheating ho and I am the one who is too good for you!", it completely detracts from the Christmas spirit.

"Maybe it was the other George Michael. You know, the singer/songwriter."
Do They Know It's Christmas?
Band Aid, 1984
Imagine you gathered all of Britain's greatest musicians of the 70s and 80s into one room. Who would you have? Amongst the ranks you would find Freddie Mercury, Phil Collins, Sting, and Jareth the Goblin King himself—David Bowie. If you had all these greats gathered together, what would you do with your never-before-been-topped concentration of talent? Well, if you were the creators of Band Aid, you would write one of the most horrible—and horribly depressing—songs ever and have them sing it. Yes, Band Aid was created to help raise money for a famine in Ethiopia, and yes, famines in Ethiopia are by definition not very funny; but that is no excuse for the travesty of a song that not only uses such great holiday words as "dread", "fear", "bitter", and "doom", but that also suggests that while eliminating the problem would be good, it is equally good to "thank God it's them instead of you". While I think I understand what is trying to be said, something tells me Jesus does not want the celebration of his birth spent by a bunch of privileged white people thanking him that there are the less-fortunate in the world... so that they do not have to be the less-fortunate.

"So two Ethiopian famines walk into a bar..."
The Christmas Shoes
NewSong, 1999
The Christmas Shoes is the worst of the worst. It is specifically written to be as emotionally exploiting as possible, complete with the little-kid-choir singing the refrain at the end. And, believe it or not, the worst part of the song is not when the poor child reaches into his pocket and finds that his meager savings are not enough to buy his sick mother some shoes—or, you know, medicine, which probably would have been a better purchase. No, the worst part comes near the end:
  "I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven’s love/
  As he thanked me and ran out/
  I knew that God had sent that little boy/
  To remind me just what Christmas is all about."
That is right: the narrator of the song is actually so full of himself, he assumes he is so special that God would set a huge chain of events in motion to teach him the small and easily-teachable-in-other-ways lesson of the true meaning of Christmas... a chain of events which, if you did not catch it, ends with the little kid's mother more-than-likely dying.

The Christmas Shoes, a bad movie based on an even worse book based on the absolutely worst song in existence
There are also a few honorable mentions the deserve a bit of attention:

Baby It's Cold Outside
Frank Loesser, 1944
Do me a favor and read the lyrics of this song really quick. Notice anything amiss? Perhaps the fact that the entire song is about a guy trying to get a girl drunk, despite her pleas to go back to her parents? And to think: it won an Academy Award... the first song about statutory to do so, to my knowledge.

Here Come Santa Claus
Gene Autry, 1947
The song ends with the following lyrics:
  "Peace on earth will come to all/
  If we just follow the light/
  So let’s give thanks to the Lord above/
  That Santa Claus comes tonight."
Not to presume what the Savior’s likes and dislikes are, but I am fairly certain he would not appreciate it if people thanked him for the existence of a fictional character whose presence has led to people forgetting why they celebrate Christmas in the first place. And on a similar topic, it is probably not a good idea to blur the line between Santa and Jesus, unless you want your child's faith utterly destroyed when they find out the truth about the former.

Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)
John Denver
Please daddy, don't get drunk this Christmas. Oh my goodness.

You know you are in a bad way when "Please Santa, don't get drunk this Christmas" is the better alternative.
That being said, Merry Christmas to everyone!


Jodi Lou said...


Andrea said...

But, but, but I love all of those songs!

Well, the only one I genuinely love is Baby It's Cold Outside. But I fully appreciate the awfulness of Wonderful Christmastime and Last Christmas, and listen to them at every opportunity during the Christmas season.

By the way, you should check out the Jessica and Ashley Simpson singing Little Drummer Boy, and Jewel and her mom singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.