Monday, December 10, 2012

The Worst Christmas Songs

We're in that time of the year where you can't escape Christmas music. Whenever you drive in the car, it comes on the radio. Whenever you turn off the radio, there's music playing in the store. Whenever you leave the store and go back home, there are holiday jingles playing on the television. Whenever you turn off the television, you have the horrible songs still bouncing around your head. I've experienced quite a bit in my life, but there are certain things that make me want to claw at my face whenever I hear them.
And just to clarify, I claw at my face every single time I hear these songs.
1. "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"
    Every little girl's dream is to have a wild, dangerous African animal for Christmas which is notorious for being extremely aggressive and flinging its feces everywhere to mark its territory. Oh? It's not? Well apparently it is for this horribly misinformed little girl. I don't understand how people think this song is cute. What the hell kind of a Christmas would they expect if this actually played out? What the hell kind of sicko parents or Santa would allow this to happen? I have a horrible image of a house with gaping holes in it, people flattened like pancakes, and feces absolutely everywhere. Street hardened policemen would poke their heads in to get a glimpse of the carnage, and immediately turn away to start puking and yell "OH THE HUMANITY!" Plus, what's with the creepy girl's voice? I know it's a child singer, but it still freaks me out. I'm pretty sure I know the reason why. After studio executives spent a day and a half of being told "that's a stupid idea for a song" by 8 year-olds, they clearly went with plan "B" and got an adult female to sing the song with a mask of helium hooked up.
2. "Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey"
   As if to differentiate that the song is NOT about a reindeer, the singer drove the message home with all the subtlety of a Mel Brooks' comedy. "HEEEEEE-YONK! HEEEE-YONK" is peppered throughout the song along with "JIGGITY JIG!" which isn't preceded by the old standard, "Home again, home again!" And then the singer can't remember the first words to each verse, so he just randomly fills empty air by yelling "LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAAA!" which apparently are sounds that only Italian Christmas donkeys make as opposed to those other jackasses. To be fair, Italy's Santa Claus legend does have him riding a donkey.  But if the Italian Santa had to ride a donkey named Dominick that sounded like an animal version of Ned Flanders ("Hidely ho! HEEYONK JIGGITY LA LA JIG!"), he would've traded him in for a Ferrari. Or a Fiat.
3. "Santa Baby" by Madonna.
   Madonna had a string of hits in the 80's and then 90's, but she's successfully transformed herself from an 80's sex icon to a real-life walking mummy these days. This song was recorded in the 80's by her, and she naturally wanted to try something different than her usual sultry approach. So she sung like a person who's just come out of a wisdom tooth extraction and still fully feeling the effects of the anesthetic. It really is different as a Christmas song, but you only listen to it halfway before you find yourself wishing that you could tell her, "Madonna, look, an 'A' for effort, but maybe you could just try singing it normally?"
4. "The Christmas Shoes"
    There's just something about this song that makes me want to crawl into bed and stay there for a week. I can't quite put my finger on it. It could be the street urchin protagonist in the song attempting to buy some sort of nice shoes, (he doesn't say what kind, but I always picture Air Jordan's or whatever Kobe Bryant's hawking these days) for his terminally ill mother, while his father is so overcome with grief that he's oblivious to everything and allowing his Oliver Twist of-a-son to roam around the city. It could be that the protagonist doesn't have enough money to buy the shoes and has to resort to begging instead of picking up aluminum cans and taking them to a recycling center. It could also be that the song sounds suspiciously like Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"
5. "Happy Xmas (War is Over)"
    I understand what peace is fully. It's the absence of war. And I understand what Yoko Ono is. It's the absence of singing ability. Japanese and Chinese music sound atonal to me but that's because their musical scales are different from the western twelve note scale. And yes, the women singing do sound a tad like cats singing. But it works with their music. What doesn't work in this song is Yoko in the background warbling "WAAAAAR EEEEES OOOOOVAAAAH! EEEEEF YOUUUUUU WAAAAAAN IT! WAAAAR EEEES OOOOOVAH! NAAAAAAAAAAOOOOAAAAA!" I see it in my mind right now. John's hunched over at the console of his recording studio and the sound engineer is listening to the playback and says, "I don't understand, John! We've recorded this fifteen times and every single time once it gets to the chorus, I hear a high pitched whine in the background! It's not the equipment...but what is it?!"
6. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
    Don't get me wrong. My issue with the song isn't the lyrics but with Brenda Lee's vocal cords which seem to be suffering the same debilitating disease as the little girl who sings "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." I mean, the Hall and Oates cover of this song was fine. Except for the video where John Oates gets all gussied up in a dress for the holidays. And the long, personal gaze that was shared between Darryl and John. That just makes me feel voyeuristic. And then I hear their cover and I start thinking about John in the dress and the stares that they gave each other. Actually, you know what, my beef is with the whole song in general, past to present and future.
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