Holiday Music – The Classic, Wacky And Just Plain Bad

Welcome to day ten of Partners in a Pair Tree as Kelly McKenzie and I celebrate December. Today it’s my turn to add an ornament to our tree.

For many of us, including me, this is about day 20 of almost non-stop Holiday music. I may have cheated and started listening a tiny bit before Thanksgiving.  The fourth Thursday in November came soooooo late this year. It was nearly impossible to wait until Black Friday to crank up the tunes, right?

I divide holiday music into three groups: Old and New Classics That I Love, Weird or Wacky Tunes That Make Me Smile and Oh No You Didn’t.

Old and New Classics That I Love

Under this category you have, among others, “Silent Night”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and the best of the best – “Oh, Holy Night”.

“Oh, Holy Night” is the one song that really, really makes me wish I could sing (without making people’s ears bleed). This is one tune I crank up on the car radio and belt out with gusto, taking advantage of my little automotive soundproof booth.

It’s a bit awkward if I’m stopped at a traffic light and the driver of the next car sees me in full “OH NIGHT DIVINE…”  I’m sure they think there is something terribly wrong with me. Too bad – I love it.

I also love many of the seasonal-not-religious songs of the season. Songs like “Let It Snow”, “Jingle Bells”, and “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” (an odd choice for someone who was born in Florida and now lives in California).

Then, of course you have the songs that have joined the mix because they are part of classic holiday shows.  A holiday music collection wouldn’t be complete without the Grinch’s personality being described as having the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile.

Or hearing about the life span of a snowman named Frosty.

Or the tale of a reindeer, treated badly on the playground just because of a shiny blinking nose, who turns out to save the day. If only Rudolph had opposable thumbs, he could thumb his shiny blinking nose at all those other reindeer that used to laugh and call him names!

After my post about holiday shows, I’ve heard from many like myself who are huge fans of the film Love Actually.  We have the uber-talented Mariah Carey to thank for the signature song of the movie, “All I Want for Christmas is You”. It’s one of my absolute favorites in the pop Christmas genre and one I also belt out at every opportunity. Usually in my car.

Fun fact, according to the infallible folks at Wikipedia, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is one of the top selling singles of all time.

Just ahead of “Y.M.C.A.”

Weird or Wacky Tunes That Make Me Smile

Dominic the Donkey

We have a lot of Dominics in our family. So the first time we heard “Dominick The Donkey” we were hooked. You’ve got to love a song about an Italian Christmas donkey that starts off with “Chingedy ching, hee-haw, hee-haw”?

An oldie, but a goodie, I just heard this morning is Eartha Kitt’s version of “Santa Baby”.  Who doesn’t need the deed to a platinum mine? Or a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments from Tiffany?  I like Taylor Swift, and her version of the song isn’t too bad, but there is something about Eartha’s beautiful, sultry voice that gives this song the appropriate sense of a “wink”.

Show of hands, how many of you have the ‘N Sync ornament on your Christmas tree like I do? The ornament that plays “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”?  Pretty freaking awesome, right?

Just the other night, on the Saturday Night Live Holiday Special, I saw Adam Sandler perform his “Chanukah Song”.  This completely irreverent song honoring “eight crazy nights” includes a rhyming list of famous people throughout history who light a menorah instead of a Christmas tree. The first song was so wildly popular that Adam has written part two and part three.  True example of weird and wacky but makes me smile.

As a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen, I love to hear The Boss and The E Street Band sing “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”. In my opinion, their rendition is by far the best since this song debuted in 1934. Not that I was around in 1934, but still…

I love the beginning of the song when Bruce asks the band if they’ve been good and if Santa is going to bring “The Big Man” a new saxophone. But best of all is hearing The Big Man – the late, great Clarence Clemons – in his gorgeous deep bass voice, echo Bruce to sing “You better be good for goodness sake…”

I know I’ve left lots and lots of songs off my list. I’m sure I will hit “publish” and think of a dozen more that I ABSOLUTELY should have included.  But I wanted to leave space here to talk a little about two songs that fall into the category of what I call:

Oh No You Didn’t

“The Christmas Shoes” by Alabama, in my opinion, is just a thinly disguised attempt to rip our emotional heartstrings to shreds.

Am I the only cold-hearted Scrooge who is annoyed by the over the top-ness of this tragic story?

“I only have a couple of pennies to buy these shoes for my mom and I have to hurry in case she meets Jesus tonight.”

Then a children’s choir chimes in for the arrow straight to the heart? No, no, no.  Just too much.

The next song gets a bit of a pass because it was written and recorded for charity, raising millions and millions of dollars toward famine relief in Africa.

But what bugs me about “Do They Know It’s Christmas” is the odd contrast of the peppy and festive music with lyrics like “it’s a world of dreaded fear where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears”. (As my son points out, this line is ironically sung by Sting.)

The song continues, “And the Christmas Bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom. We’ll, tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you.”

What the what?!?!

We are further invited, in the song, to raise our glass in what sounds like about the most insensitive toast ever.

Here’s to you and your suffering. Cheers! I’ll just write a check then pop open another bottle of Dom Perignon.

And let them eat cake!

Of course there is pain and sadness, even during the holiday season of joy. But I think that, especially at this time of year, we look to music to lift our spirits.

Just because a song mentions the word “Christmas” doesn’t mean it should get constant air play on the 24/7 holiday music channel.

Holiday music in its best form, celebrates the themes of hope and joy and love.  So, at this time of year in particular, I prefer songs that make me smile and want to sing.

What songs did I leave off the list? Do you have any others that make you say “Oh no they didn’t”?

Partners in a Pair Tree Day 10

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Comments

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Josh Groban singing “Oh Holy Night”. WOW. I’m so glad you embedded that video. I’m practically in tears!
    I love “Carol of the Bells” in every form. I think I’ve even heard a version with whales singing that I liked. There is just something about that one that gets me.
    I’d have to say my all time favorite is “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by The Boss. It’s not the holiday season until I hear that song and I smile every time I do.
    Don’t even talk about Christmas Shoes with me. I might fall into a sugar induced coma just thinking about it. I cannot go there. BLECH! –Lisa
    The Dose of Reality recently posted…Dear Santa, Please Make My Children Smile On Command Just Once!My Profile

  2. I have lots of favorite songs but the one that brings tears to my eyes is Angels We Have Heard on High. When we were little daddy used to take all the neighborhood kids caroling to get us to sing “in excelsis deo” correctly he told us it was in eggshells, I think of that every time I hear that song! I love Christmas music, I wish we Catholics didn’t wait until after Advent to sing it in church.

  3. Before I started working at a mall I’d gone YEARS without hearing “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and never missed it. Sadly, it’s in regular rotation this year, and Tte ones I never get tired of aren’t showing up.
    Kathy G recently posted…Snowman, Snowman, Who’s Got The Snowman?My Profile

  4. Josh is belting it out as I type this. Thanks for him Mo.
    Oh Night Devinnnnneee!
    I had the fortune of being the organizer for Gray Line of Vancouver’s Christmas Light Tour charters. I’d seek out the best light displays in the city, equip the buses with hot chocolate and hand the driver and hosts Christmas song sheets. Each year I went along on a tour as well. When I sang – folks would stop and stare. Not in the heavenly way of “Gavin – my copper” Love Actually Way but in the rusty door way. As my grandmother used to say I “have other talents …” Love Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song, too!
    Nice job yet again Partner!
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…Songs of the Season from the Classic to the WackyMy Profile

  5. This is such a great post, Mo…it made me want to turn up the Christmas music while I sit at my desk today. I especially love your tribute to Bruce and the great Clarence – my faves! Here is a “oh no you didn’t” song – “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”…

    Have a wonderful day! xoxo

  6. It Must Have Been Ole Santa Claus by Harry Connick. And if course on if our favs is Dominick. Need to pull out my Love Actually DVD – live that movie.

  7. Oh Holy Night – really any version of it – is one of my favorite Christmas tunes. It’s just so captivating!
    Amy Powell recently posted…My Health Journey in 2013My Profile

  8. Mo! We are song twins. O Holy Night by Josh Groban is my all time favorite, which is kinda funny because it’s a religious tune…when I saw him in concert last month I was hoping he would sing it, but I guess early November was too early for Christmas music. And that Christmas Shoes song came on the radio earlier today and I made my daughter change it – who needs to listen to something so depressing? But your list is perfect – I wouldn’t change a thing!
    Dana recently posted…The time I was in a Christmas flash mobMy Profile

  9. Josh G singing this (and several other songs) moves me to tears. My daughter and I were just having our Ah, Clarence moment when we heard Santa’s Coming to Town at Thanksgiving time. And-yes, absolutely! The Christmas shoes song has always just made me angry from the very first time I heard it. Cheap attempt to play on the emotions. Cheap!
    And for the record, if you need a chance to hear some of these fine tunes as early as October 2014, you just come on over. They’ll be playing at my house!
    May recently posted…Christmas Must-HavesMy Profile

  10. I totally wish I could have raised my hand when you called out for the N’Sync singing ornament. I WANT that! That’s such a great pop Christmas song, but a far second to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you.” The version with the Beibs ain’t so bad, and I’m not even much of a fan of his. You didn’t list that song that goes a little something like “all I want for Christmas is a hippo-pot-a-musses” – I don’t know the name of it, but it always brings a smile to my face when I hear it on the radio.
    Gracielle recently posted…{Wordless Wednesdays} Waiting for SantaMy Profile

    • Oh my gosh Gracielle, I know just the song you are talking about! I haven’t heard it yet this year. Clearly I am not listening to enough holiday music. I better step up my game!
      Just hopped over to You Tube and watched a couple of videos of this song – including one with Shirley Temple. Thanks for reminding me about this song. It made me smile, too!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Partners In A Pair Tree – Day NineMy Profile

  11. I love the Chieftans and “The Bells of Dublin” for some beautiful Irish Christmas music, but there is one song that I skip over: “St. Stephen’s Day Murders”. Kind of ruins the uplift from the rest of the album.

  12. my favorite christmas song is the little drummer boy. and i want to find that n’sync ornament. that is so awesome!
    catherine gacad recently posted…Money Monday: I’m a Belieber!My Profile

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