Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top 10 Crappy/Great Christmas Songs

How many things can you say about Christmas?  Well lots of things.  You can talk about all the good things that happen around Christmas, and frequently I do.  This time.  I think it's time to talk about the songs of Christmas that really need not be there, along with the ones that are completely necessary. The good songs are good because they fit in tone and lyric with the holiday.  Then there are the stupid songs...You know the ones.  the ones that you've heard so many times that they have lost all meaning; or the ones that have had precious little meaning in the first place.

This is the first time I've got no pictures but links to YouTube videos.  Go ahead and click through, they are safe.  Except for that second to last one.  ick.

10. Jingle Bells/Jingle Bell Rock - Traditional Crappy - Originally a cute song sung by children, this song is also one of the first to be re-lyriced to the denegration of the Dark Knight.  Bat-mobile Lost it's wheels my left chestnut.  If that's not enough then we have to take the same song and give it bit of a swing rhythm for a whole new craptacular song.  This song has always been around during the holidays as a means nothing kind of song.  So people can use it and manipulate it a hundred ways and nobody really cares.  This is not as much a song about Christmas as it is about winter anyway. All this being said, the Chet Atkins instrumental of Jingle bell rock is one of my favorites, but all others are abominations.

9. Joy to the world - GREAT - The bigger the choir the better.  The more voices in the mix, the harder it is to screw up.  This song is terrific with or without bells. On the other hand this is another song that is messed up by soloists all the time.  I'm convinced that this song was meant to be sung in chorale.

8. Grandma got run over by a reindeer. - Gosh this song is so clever that somehow it's found it's way into the Christmas radio rotation.  This song just blows.  No wait, that's really not harsh enough to explain what I think about this song.  Ha Ha very clever. The idea that this song got it's beginnings from a Radio DJ.  It's not that I find any aspect of the song offensive.  It's that the song is really pretty inane.  Did you ever think that maybe there is a Laplander in Finland to which this actually happened?  It's not beyond the pale.

7.  God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen - This song seems to go hand in hand with A Christmas Carol, the finest Christmas story told during the season. I've always found it to be a touching song that has a great lyric but will stand without lyrics.  This is a rare thing in music.  I've found that the song can be improvised with pretty good results as well.  The link above is one of my favorites.

6. Rudolph blah blah blah - In America, we love an underdog.  we love him so much that we make up underdogs that win just in case there aren't any real ones to point out.  This song is more about America than it is about Christmas.  If you haven't heard it.  Don't bother.  It's a story about a mutated reindeer.  Some say he was found as a faun on the outskirts of Chernobyl.  Apparently He makes friends with a bunch of other mutants and a dentist.  Fits so far.  Well the mutants convince the mutant reindeer that when you are an outcast, you are simply part of a different group, just not the one you were cast out from.  You can see the analog to Christmas already can't you?  No?  Ok, so Santa Clause apparently can't fly his sleigh when there is too much snow.  I guess it never happens around the end of December.  So they were going to cancel Christmas.  Santa and his rough and tumble bunch of reindeer decide to swallow their collective pride and see if Rudolph would use his mutation to help them navigate to somewhere, I'm not sure where.  It doesn't matter, it was snowing there too.  When they got back in a couple of hours, they all had a fine dinner of crow and Rudolph was accepted as a hero to the group of bully reindeer.  This is the only part that doesn't ring true.  When a group of bullies use you for your mutant powers, they quickly ostracize you again once your usefulness has expired. Now the original song has been peppered with musical asides that turned this song from vaguely amusing to a vapid main course played to Jingle bell's appetizer.

5. Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah - I'm sure Mr. Handel thought this was a pretty hot number once he finished it, but I don't think he figured he would become the subject of countless High School choirs' Christmas programs.  The great thing is, if you have enough people, it will sound terrific (see #9).  This song more than any other reminds me of when I was singing at my best and part of a pretty good sounding choir.

4. 12 days of Christmas - The pyramid scheme of Christmas.  Everyone pays off the partridge in a pear tree.  This musical ponzi scheme is to music what Trivial Pursuit is to games.  Just a bit too long.  11 pipers piping I'll say.  By they time you get to 12, you've payed the piper over and over again. This song is the venison of  Christmas songs.  If you mix it with enough other things and try to disguise it, it just might be palatable.  Best to avoid it all together.  Just stop with 5 golden rings and call it a day.  Most people get the swans, maids and lords confused anyway.

3. Hark the Herald Angels Sing - This song is murder to sing, but if you have a really good choir or a bunch of cartoon drawn kids singing it, it really is one of the markers of Christmas.  The above video link is the Steamroller version.  Not my favorite, but I love the synchronized Christmas lights thing. 

2. Jingle Bells, Barbra Streisand. - Just listen for yourself.  This song sucks.  If you think otherwise.  I'm sorry for you and those around you.

1. Silent Night - With no modification and no personal aria this song is another terrific Christmas song.  one solo soprano with full tone and good pitch it's as good as Christmas songs get.  Any remake of this song is but a distant shade of it's original.

Yes, I know there are a wealth of good and bad Christmas tunes.  I'll probably visit this in a part 2 next year. 

Amazing!  I was sure I was going to peter out this year.  It just didn't happen.  In fact, at this writing, I've got material to last into February already.  It's quality may, of course, be another issue

Merry Christmas to all!  Thanks for reading.  I really very much appreciate it.  Tell your friends!


Anonymous said...

12 Days as a pyramid scheme? CLASSIC!

Bruce Holt said...

The first choreographed Christmas house light show that I saw is still my favorite: Wizards of Winter by the Trans Siberian Orchestra: