Thursday, December 23, 2010

Worst. Carol. Ever.

Music is undoubtedly my favorite thing about the Holiday season.   The music NOT coming from concerts that I'm involved in planning, running, or conducting, that is. My lesson plans this week involves student-made bingo boards listing 24 carols the school picked, and my iPod - on shuffle.  Literally, my "procedure":  I press play, they  mark the song on their card, and we sit around and sing.  Yes, for 50 minutes.  In younger children, sitting around and singing together for the simple joy of sitting around and singing together is still alive and merry.  It's been a festive little tradition, and they are actively engaged and quite spent when the class over.  They do get holiday stickers for bingos, of course.

Our family prides itself on our vast and varried collection of Christmas music.  We are at, I believe, 500 + songs in said collection.   Last time I checked.  The collection is expanded throughout each season as well, through gifts, rare finds on Amazon, and friends who contribute awesome versions of Feliz Navidad by acapella Puerto Rican vocal groups.  I was thrilled a few years back to be able to score a used copy of "Dr. Demento's Greatest Christmas Novelty CD Ever" for Bob's stocking.

"Christmas Dragnet" alone made it worth the search.

We have a playlist called, "Christmas, Alphabetically" in which you can hear no less than 13 "Silent Nights" in a row, ranging from Glen Miller's rendition to John Denver and the Muppets singing in the original German.  And ask me about my North Jersey-inspired "Winter Wonderland" by the Roches.  Not to be outdone by the fabulous Bob Dylan Christmas album, obviously.  We have some very good stuff.   We will NOT play one of these 500 songs before Thanksgiving day.  And even then, only on the ride home.   Honestly, we say that if you hear Christmas too much, it loses its meaning and magic.

Bob Dylan - Christmas in the Heart [Audio CD]
In case you didn't hear bout Dylan's album from last year, YES, it does exist, and YES it does sound gloriously gravelly. 

On the other hand, some Christmas songs are already in the doghouse. Apparently our local "Christmas" station, B101, which I have had extra special cause to listen to of late (go Chorus!), has exactly 20 songs in their playlist.  They are  trying to kill me, Ray Coniff and Percy Faith-style.  I won't even go into the whole "Last Christmas" debacle.  Really, Taylor Swift?

These are the Christmas songs that I and mine NEVER want to hear again.  At least not until we fill up on enough of Karen's holiday punch, if you know what I mean.

Christmas Songs that Make Us Want to Stick Gingerbread in our Ears:

  • Me: Mariah Carey: All I Want for Christmas is You. Heard it 40 times in the week my students were played on B101.  Ok, we get it, you have a nice whistle register.   
  • Me: Christmas Shoes.  Is this a true story? Cause if it is, I'm very sorry for the family and I hope the proceeds of this piece of schmarm at least went in part to them.  If it's not: what a formulaic, blatant attempt at some Christmasy pathos.  Boo. 
  • Me: Baby, It's Cold Outside.  Used to love it.  It's swingy, jazzy, and you gotta love Dean.  Then I started actually listening to the words and realized it's the script for a health class movie about date rape.  
  • Me: Anything sung by Spike Jones. *Shudder* Nails on a chalkboard.
  • Bob: Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmastime?"  Yes, most of them do, because Ethiopia is about 60% Christian.  This was a very nice project, which hopefully sent all its proceeds to African famine and farming communities.  In 1984.  I am aware that there are new versions.  Unless the royalties are still going to those in need, give us a break - what an ear worm.
  • Both of us: Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town": It was cute when Michael Jackson changed the rhythm of the chorus.  It was not cute when you asked Clarence if he's "Been practicin' real hard so Santa bring him a new sax-uh-phone".  They must have cut the part where Clarence told Bruce that he's a real musician and not to patronize him.
  • Bob: Anything by the Ronettes: To quote him, the background music "sounds like somebody threw up on a drum set".
Bah-humbugy enough for ya? 
What's the Christmas song you can't do the tree/cookies/presents without?  
Which one makes you want to put an icicle through your brain?

Here: Best rendition of Silent Night ever.  John Denver and the Muppets, a Christmas Together:

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Cait: did you know it was actually a Christmas special, not just an album we decorated the tree to every year??? I've been Youtubing it all week!  Ah, the memories.

And here's one for my Mom, Dad, and sis:  in our book this is tied for the best Christmas album ever with the above.


Brenda said...

Don't forget that gaggy Last Christmas I gave you my heart song.

Thomas said...

Any Christmas song Celine Dion does is ear-stuffing worthy.

I do recommend She-Daisy's Christmas album, esp. "Twist of the Magi" which is more like "War of the Roses". It's not a country album, all very eclectic styles and clever arrangements.

Also "Christmas Songs", a collection of mostly Canadian singers doing carols and wintry songs in novel ways-Sarah MacLachlan and the Barenaked Ladies, Dido, a nice "It's in All of Us" and it closes with a wonderful Keillor-like monologue (only funnier and not somambulatory).

Thomas said...

Another fun thing is to use mog to listen to most any album straight through so a search of Christmas albums will turn up a lot of music you've probably not heard yet.

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