Three Actually Good Christmas Songs: 2017

Well, it’s about goddamn time  I showed up.

Again, I apologize for the lack updates through this past month due to a lack of proper computer. Turns out that my OS got corrupted (likely due to heat damage as a hypothesize), but now I have a much more stable rig that runs much smoother and doesn’t crash every 60 seconds for an hour straight until it completely screws up my screen resolution and kills my audio rendering everything mute and illegible.

But alas, I’m way behind on the Christmas cheer this year as a result of this mess and god knows we need it with the absolute crap-sack that 2018 is starting us off with. Between the rampant sexual abuse stories, tax plans that threaten to loot the country, and the impending death of a free internet, we really need something uplifting to keep morale strong. So let’s kick out the jams and rock around the Christmas tree again this year.

“Run Rudolph Run” – Lemmy Kilmister

I’m one of those weirdos that think that Metal makes an acceptable genre of music for holiday cheer. And why not? It’s a horribly underexplored genre for being a global tribe that unites countries and cultures around the world (note to self: consider writing about country-specific Metal subgenres in the future).

Enter Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister with his cover of “Run Rudolph Run.” Honestly, I never liked the Chuck Berry original or the numerous covers aping him until I found this. If you go back and listen, a lot of Chuck Berry’s stuff sounds EXACTLY the same. Plus, most people that cover this just don’t have the force of character behind their voice to make it fun and interesting.

Lemmy, meanwhile, uses his gravelly tone with a thrashing bass to give the sort of sound you’d want play while racing the clock to the Christmas party. Remember; Motörhead is known for Speed Metal – a subgenre that’s all about going fast.

And since I’m going off on Metal…

“Jingle Bell Metal” – Psychostick

At this point, most of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know I have a soft spot for Comedy Metal. And among the greats like Dethklok, Primus, and Tenacious D,  Psychostick holds a special place; a flickering lighter in the Metal concert of my soul.

While the vast majority of their Christmas album, The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride, is pessimistic towards the holiday, it still manages to be the only Christmas album I can listen to from beginning to end. And their Metal medley of holiday hijinx, “Jingle Bell Metal,” is actually quite celebratory… if only in the over-the-top way people picture most metalheads act.

It’s not the kind of music you put on for the family, but it’s good ridiculous fun.

“Alone On Christmas Day” – Phoenix w/ Bill Murray

One of the complaints I have about Christmas music is that it never changes; it’s just the same arbitrarily accepted canon of songs repeated ad nauseam. Seriously, did you know that “Silent Night” is the third most covered song in the history of music?

I’m of the opinion that, if you’re going to blatantly copy someone, it should be done to preserve the memory of their art – not to ride on their coattails. Hence why I’m so glad this cover of a forgotten Beach Boys song exists.

What’s more, it’s a rarity among Christmas tracks – a sad song about being alone for the holidays that has an uplifting message in the end; pick yourself up and keep moving on because you don’t know how much better it can get.

Plus, who knew that Bill Murray had such a good baritone voice?

Return of the Forgotten Christmas Specials

So, I just realized that I skipped over talking about underrated and forgotten Christmas Specials last year. And that’s a shame because there seems to be more and more of them as time goes on.

As I said some two years ago, we just don’t see proper Christmas specials anymore and the art seems to be dying off. To that end, I’m going to attempt to breath live back into these cheap and cheerful shows and make the holiday jolly again.

Father Christmas

If the art style looks familiar to you, that’s probably because you remember seeing The Snowman once or twice in your life. That movie was directed by Dianne Jackson and she was set to return for this pseudo-sequel. Sadly, she only managed to storyboard the project before falling ill to cancer that would take her on New Year’s Day the following year.

As for Father Christmas, it’s your standard tale of Santa looking to take a much-needed vacation. It’s quite entertaining to see the jolly symbol of the holiday struggle with the usual headaches of traveling abroad and even get tanked on stiff drink (minus the usual trappings of bad Christmas comedy that those words normally follow).

It’s funny, happy, and leaves you feeling great after. What’s not to love?

Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas

You may be too young to remember the days when variety shows existed and would go all out for the holidays to gather talent from all corners of the world to celebrate. Well, this is the stop motion version of that.

Will Vinton, famous for his work with The California Raisins ( and yes, they do appear in the special), gave us this series of comedy skits and classic Christmas carols rendered in the style that only he could produce. His stylized production may be off-putting to some but are more than made up for with great writing and amazing music.

Plus, if you like this one, Will also did a Halloween special that I may go into next year.

Ziggy’s Gift

You thought I was kidding when I said Peanuts didn’t have the market cornered comic strip inspired specials, didn’t you?

This one is kind of odd but in a charming way. The story is just the titular Ziggy just being the genuinely nice and lovable (but not at all talkative) guy his always is – even as other less wholesome people try to trip him up for their own gain.

There really isn’t much to this show, but then again, there doesn’t need to be. It’s just a series of interconnected events that come together to make you feel really good at the end of the day. And that’s exactly what Ziggy would want.

Great Gifts of Song: Three More Great Christmas Songs

So, last week saw a follow-up to last year’s bad Christmas song list. Now, like last year, we’ve come to the flip-side. After all, why would I dedicate a joyous celebration to nothing but the coal that was dumped in our stockings. This is Christmas, damn it. So let’s have some fun.

Christmas is A-Comin’ – Bing Crosby

It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until one of the old crooners shows up at the party.

This one is a new favorite that I just learned of this year. Here, Bing spins the tale of a lone beggar on the streets shortly before Christmas and how, despite his situation, he still manages to be one of the happiest and friendliest men in town; wishing well to others far better off than himself.

This is a happy little tune that manages to put you outside of your own head space to consider others without shaming the listener or painting the less fortunate as pathetic. You’d think that a concept like that would be a no-brainer, but you’d never know it from other Christmas songs like Do They Know It’s Christmas (Don’t worry – Band Aid’s time will come next year).

Christmas In Killarney – The Irish Rovers

Here’s a little treat for those who, like me, are of proud Irish descent.

You never really think of it, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget that Christmas isn’t celebrated just at your home. That said, other homes around the world have their own little touches that make them special and leave us wondering what it’s like on the other side of the ocean.

I like this one for both the pleasant reminder of my own heritage as well as the reminder to think more globally this year.

Now, it’s true that our friend Bing from earlier in this article did this song as well and that version seems to get more radio play. But, in my opinion, you absolutely need to hear The Irish Rovers’ take. There’s just something about having a few of the local boys do it in their style that feels more organic and natural.

Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

I think Tom Petty may rank as one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time. So it comes as no surprise that his contribution to the Christmas arts would make my personal ‘Nice’ list.

Even if I didn’t love Tom, this is a great song. There aren’t any of the overly lavish bells and whistles of most Christmas tracks – no cheesy synthesizers, no obnoxiously loud bells, just a simple sing-along about all of the stuff we look forward to on the holidays.

In that regard, it’s also the most honest song about Christmas as well. It’s not dripping with sickeningly sweet shmaltz nor is it bitterly pessimistic about holiday stressors. It simply tells it like it is; which, in my mind, has always been Tom’s best quality.

Also, I can’t deny that hearing Tom read off his wish list at the end puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.

Three Christmas Songs That I NEVER Want to Hear Again

It was inevitable folks; Christmas time is almost upon us again and that means a return to familiar scenes and trappings. The lights and trees are up, stores are having their sales, and the radio stations are running their Christmas line-ups.

Last year, I went on an exploration of what Christmas meant to me in an attempt to recapture the spirit that I once had as a child. I’m pleased to say that, for the most part it was a success; I’m much more optimistic about the season now then last year and years prior.

However, I still take some exceptions to the canon of Christmas music. While I find myself more tolerant to multiple renditions of Jingle Bell Rock that aren’t even rock music, there are still auditory atrocities that I have no patience for. So, if you’re going to invite me to your Christmas party, please make sure your music playlist doesn’t include the following.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy

Might as well get the obvious one out of the way right now.

This song often tops several peoples lists of the worst Christmas songs made and for good reason – it’s just not funny or, at the very least not funny in the way it should be.

It’s not that I’m offended by the subject; I enjoy dark comedy (hence why I’ve mentioned The Binding of Issac with glowing praise multiple times). It’s just that the joke goes nowhere. It’s says, “Grandma’s dead,” and doesn’t do anything with it. It’s a subject that the now divorced Elmo and Patsy Shropshire clearly weren’t ready to handle.

The droning riff stolen from Jingle Bells doesn’t help matters either. It’s far too blunt and it sounds like it’s trying to pound it’s way through your skull.

If you want a death-as-comedy Christmas carol, I recommend Weird Al’s Christmas at Ground Zero which only delights in becoming more and more grotesque. Unlike this sorry tune which doesn’t know know what to do with the sleigh-hicular manslaughter of a beloved family member.

Santa Buddy – Michael Bublé

I’ll admit it, Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby is my guilty pleasure. I know that it’s a stupid song about a gold digging woman using her sexuality to con Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick out of more presents, but that stupidity is part of it’s appeal to me. To me, sex is an inherently funny act that tends to get a chuckle out of me. Plus, It’s Eartha Kitt – I just can’t say no to Catwoman.

Basically what I’m trying to say is, if I may paraphrase Kitt herself, I used to have a lot of fun with this song… then Michael Bublé sang it.

Bublé misses the entire point of the song. He reworks the lyrics of the song to remove any and all hints of sexuality from the lyrics because he can’t stand the idea of people thinking he may be gay (which is a shame because a gay male take on Santa Baby might have been interesting) and there by removing what little edge the song had.

Also, by removing the sexual humor and changing the perspective to a male one, the song becomes a story about a greedy douchebag begging Santa for stuff he probably doesn’t deserve. Yup, Bublé unintentionally made the theme song for Jeremy Creek from The Town Santa Forgot.

So, just to clarify, Eartha Kitt was sexy and funny; Michael Bublé is rude and pathetic.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Various Artists

There exist no words to accurately describe the level of discomfort and blind fury I feel every time I hear this song. It is, quite simply, the worst Christmas song ever made and one of the worst songs of all time, purely based on how offensive it is.

Why is this song so bad? Well, the short version is this: there should not exist a Christmas song about DATE RAPE.

No, really; this is a song about a man using the state of the weather as an excuse to keep a woman at his home against her will and despite her pleas to leave. I really don’t think I need to justify my hate much further beyond that. It’s a sexist song on par with, if not worse than, Blurred Lines.

And just in case you think I and my fellow condemners of this song are reading too much into lyrics like, “The answer is no,” and, “What’s in this drink,” bare in mind that when the original writer Frank Loesser scripted the score, he named the female and male roles the Mouse and the Wolf respectively. He used the same language used to describe a sexual predator and their prey.

No means no, people. And I’m saying no to this song.

The Agent’s Search for Christmas

Time for heartfelt holiday special… in blog form!

As surprising as I’m sure this will be to some of you, I’m not much of a “Christmas person.” I remember that I used to be, but I’m just not sure what happened to turn me into the Scrooge I am today.

I don’t even really hate the holiday; I guess you could say I’m just disappointed with it. It used to mean so much to me, but know I seem to have lost that child-like glee with it and desperately want to recapture it.

So, if you’re like me and want to re-find what Christmas means to you, I encourage you to follow me as I look at all aspects of the holiday season to see (from my perspective at least) what works, what doesn’t, and how to enjoy ourselves again.

The History

It’s missing a few thousand years, sir.
Source: Balsam Hill

The muddy waters of the story of Christmas have always been a sad point of contention with me.

The fact that Christmas’ origins are such a jambalaya of stories and traditions sort of takes the meaning out of the holiday for me. Each seems to contradict whatever meaning I find.

Logic prevents me from celebrating a Christian Christmas because I know evidence shows that Jesus wasn’t even born in December and that most of the celebration was taken from the ancient roman holiday of Saturnalia. I lack the cultural context to truly appreciate holidays like Hanukkah, Ramadan, or Kwanza. I can’t even embrace the children’s stories we told because I’ve never believed the story of Santa Claus – even when I was young enough to (feel free to judge me accordingly).

As such, I think the answer here is to make a new story – to find a new personal definition for what Christmas is to me. In other words, you define the holiday; the holiday does not define you.

The Gifts

“But I need more stuff!”
Source: Partridge and Pear

This is going to sound absolutely insane, but I hate making out my Christmas wish list.

Seriously; I hate asking people for things or receiving gifts that I feel like I never earned. It makes me feel like I’m mooching off of people when those gifts could be going to someone who probably worked much harder than me and could really use them. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the thought and sentiment. It just makes me feel weird – especially if I know they spent a ridiculous amount of time, effort, and/or money to get it to me.

I also don’t like the idea of setting aside a specific day to do something nice for someone. It’s one of those things that you should be doing every day to make the world a better place. Reserving one day for an act of kindness seems to diminish that notion.

If you want to do something nice for me on a holiday, just take me out to dinner so we can share our mutual love and we can both enjoy ourselves. In fact, don’t even wait for a holiday; just call me and we’ll set up something.

The Music

Now THIS would get me in the holiday spirit.
Source: The L Magazine

This is the pettiest gripe I have ever had about any long-standing tradition. My heart just sinks every time I hear Christmas music play on the radio.

I think it’s because I’ve heard them all before. Think of how many people have covered the songs of past Christmases. 45 different versions of Silent Night is just plain silly. I want to hear what Christmas means to YOU – not what it meant to someone else through the filter of your voice.

Also, what new music (new referring to songs written within the last 40 years, that is) that comes out strikes an ill cord with me. There’s a reason why Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is often considered among the worst Christmas songs ever made is all I’m saying.

However, there are exceptions. Anyone who follows me on Facebook or Twitter will know that I’ve found some impressive examples of good Christmas music that does just enough different to be interesting without being obnoxious. The gold is there; you just have to pan for a long time to find it.

The “Togetherness”

Judging from the way they’re smiling, I’m 98% percent sure someone spiked the egg nog.
Source: PersonaBubble

Now, don’t get me wrong; I love spending time with friends and the family. After months spent on campus away from everyone, I look forward to it. I just don’t like the idea of dedicating a high holy day to doing it.

Unity,as with the aforementioned charity of gift-giving is one of those things that we should be working on maintaining at all times and, for me at least, setting aside any holiday for it (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.) takes away from that by reinforcing the idea that THIS is the day for togetherness. Forcing something like unity defeats it’s purpose; you can’t show how much you care if your being forced to care.

If I could, I’d forgo all of my work, studies, and personal goals just to spend the rest of my life with the people that mean the most to me – not just the days that have been prescribed by history and tradition that we’ve been force-fed since birth. That would be a life well spent by my standards.

Has The Agent Found Christmas?

Actually, in an odd way, I think I have. It was just hard to notice it because I’ve been trying to celebrate it everyday.

The values that Christmas preaches – love, togetherness, charity, and goodwill – are all virtues that we should be practicing everyday. I’ve just realized that I don’t need a special day to reinforce those notions. I was never the Scrooge that I thought I was. I just want to find a better way to celebrate the best qualities of this joyous day.

I’m still going to celebrate this year (any excuse to spend time with the folks and have fun, am I right), but at least now I have a better understanding of my relation to the holiday and hopefully all of you who joined me can say the same.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going go celebrate my new found sense of self by playing in the snow.