Wednesday, December 15, 2010

kimmie's kristmas karol kountdown

I am bracing for backlash with the following statement: I am not generally a huge Christmas carol fan. This was not always the case, I used to love them and the warm and fuzzy feelings associated with them [Tangent: To this date...one of the only songs I can remember to play on the piano, after years of lessons, is Up On The Housetop.], but then I worked in retail, and the songs I loved soon became associated with long hours and bitchy customers. Even the most well written tunes, when played on heavy rotation for two months will burn one out on the sounds of jingle bells and drummer boys.

My office mates all think it is some form of blasphemy to not enjoy Christmas music, so they have intervened. One coworker is burning me a box set of Sufjan Steven holiday songs, trying to take the approach that any cheesy carols sound better when indie-fied. Then today, another sent me Neil Diamond's holiday album via email, in hopes that perhaps hearing "the Jewish Elvis" sing songs about Jesus may reawaken my love of Christmas music with its utter ridiculousness.  [Tangent: I must say until you have heard Diamond's cheesetsatic take on Santa Claus is Coming to Town, you haven't celebrated the holidays appropriately.]

I mean...look at this picture. I can't even look at it without giggling. 

It has started getting me thinking about what are the best and worst holiday songs out there,  at least in my humble opinion [Tangent: Granted, my taste is questionable. In addition to the critically acclaimed, I also really like a capella music, hair bands and John Denver.] Because I am a tremendous hack, I am completely ripping off my friend Beth's hilarious blog about this very subject, while of course adding a Kimmie twist. I give you my creme de la creme and poop de la poop of Chrismas music.


The Good.

1. Up on the Housetop




This is the more peppy indie version of the old holiday pageant favorite as sung by Pomplamoose in a Hyundai commercial, but c'mon how is it possible to be cynical when listening to this song. Moreover I've a pushover for the "Click! Click! Click!" part.  Hooray for Onomatopeia!  If I close my eyes I can picture the hand motions hammered into me by every teacher I had in kindergarten through third grade.

2. Carol of the Bells



Aren't all songs more fun when sung in rounds? I think so [Row, Row, Row Your Boat et al.]. Moreover this is the ultimate A capella song, it actually sounds 400x better with no musical accompanyment. Adding a layer of enjoyment is the fact that you are basically shouting at times, making it a great way to release frustration while spreading holiday joy, killing two very different birds with one stone. It may not be as peppy as the previous selection, in fact to me it always feels like it should be sung in a very creepy old church that is kept at a very low temperature, but it will always be a favorite.


3. All I want for Christmas is You (Mariah Carey)





A quality and lasting carol hadn't been penned since people donned top hats and kerchiefs, and then out of left field butterfly loving professional exhibitionist Mariah Carey comes out with an original Christmas song that was actually worthy of being called a "classic." Everytime I hear this song I immediately envision the ending of Love Actually, one of my favorite British movies involving Hugh Grant (either that or a young Mariah Carey prancing around in the snow wearing a slutty Mrs. Claus outfit.)


4. Must Be Santa (as sung by Bob Dylan).




A polka beat with emphatically shouted lyrics like "BEARD THAT'S WHITE! SPECIAL NIGHT!"...instant crowd pleaser. 


The Bad.

1. Do They Know Its Christmas? (by Band Aid)



This song can be be put in the same category as So This is Christmas [Tangent: In fact I get them confused 99% of the time.] as songs that make for real downers at any holiday party. Yes, we are aware that children in Africa are living in terrible circumstances, I am carrying the white man's burden, so don't try to play this while I am shopping for a neck pillow at Brookstone:

Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you

Really, Bono? "Thank God it's them instead of you???" Get off your high horse. I have enough misplaced semi Catholic guilt, please don't add genocide and malaria to the list of things I have no control over, yet feel guilty about.

Also, its so clearly of the We Are the World/Hands Across America school of video making. Lump as many current celebrities into one studio at once and shoot it. Extra points for ardent hand motions, closed eyed head nodding and clenched fists.


2. Baby, Its Cold Outside



I have faced some strong opposition whenever I tell people that I think this song is creepy and verges on the date rapey. This tune is one of those songs, not unlike I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, that I thought was all well and good until I started listening closely to the lyrical content. [Tangent: The tipping point is the lyric "Say, what's in this drink." Seriously...how can this not be misconstrued.] Clearly the protagonist woman in the song is trying to come up with any lame excuse to leave, and the relentless male lead will not let her. Clearly she knows its cold, but it seems she is willing to brave it to get away from him. She said repeatedly that she can't stay. Take a hint:  NO MEANS NO, Rapey McRaperson.

[Tangent: I wanted to put up the Zooey Deschanel/Will Ferrell version from Elf, but because I think both of those performers are composed of chocolate and rainbows, I can't hate on their arrangement, so I have submitted the most terrible one I could find on youtube.]


3. Tender Tennessee Christmas (Amy Grant)




This is one of those songs people in other geographical regions are not familiar with, but if you are a native Tennessean and have sung it or heard it sung ad infinitum every year since it was released- you are mildly tired of it at this point. Don't get me wrong, I was a HUGE Amy Grant fan back in the day [Tangent: Heart in Motion was one of my first tapes. Also, I may or may not have done a rythmic ribbon dance from my wheelchair to Every Heartbeat at some point in my elementary school career. I wish I had video evidence of this, but you will have to trust that it was an amazing sight to behold.] and it does make me feel special that she is singing about my home state...but it still gives me hives.


4. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (Dr. Elmo)




This may be the most cringe-worthy of all awful Christmas music offenders. Nothing says holiday spirit like having a beloved family member trampled by a wild beast, right? Upon closer listening, however, you realize this chirpy redneck anthem is more about this drunken grandfather's plotting to kill off the Mrs. and blame it all on Santa. Wow, Dr. Elmo, you are a twisty individual!

2 comments:

  1. Nice work. And, trust your friend's instincts. You'll love the Sufjan stuff. It is indie gold. . . that has been dipped in yogurt and covered in chocolate buttons. . .

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  2. i really think we did the ribbon dance together! totally remember one move for the line "every heart beat belongs to you"...hilarious. I also remember singing an aladin song with christine and cameron in music...were you in there too? Miss you kimmie!

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