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?

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3 More Clever Dragonball Trivia Gags From Team Four Star

With this being the last article before Christmas I thought I had run out of holiday themed topics since I refuse to bash on bad carols this year.

But then I remembered that I have a relatively new Christmas tradition I can talk about; DBcember!

Yes, every year, the hard-working comedy geniuses at Team Four Star reflect on the franchise that helped make them famous and brought them and so many others so much joy with a new video counting down memorable moments and characters every day until Christmas where they give us all a special present in the form of a brand new episode of Dragonball Z: Abridged. This one hopes to be the biggest yet as they have been teasing the reveal of the long-awaited parody of The Legendary Super Saiyan, finally ending the chants of, “Wen Broly?”

So, let’s take another look at the subtle trivia-based humor that I love them for.

Imperfect Cell’s Horror Inspiration

The introduction of Cell in Dragonball Z brought in elements of Horror to a series that also blended Action, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy. So it was only fair that TFS pay tribute to that.

This was most notable in the introductory scenes of their Halloween special Flight Out Of Cell where the news reporter name checks several classic horror films. But for my money, the best was in Episode 47 where he straight up quotes one of the most memorable lines from the film Wishmaster.

Fun Fact: Because Flight Out Of Cell takes place solely as a dream sequence in Krillin’s head, his voice actor Nick “Lanipator” Landis provided all of the voices during the dream (with the obvious exception to Cell). Nice work, Lani!

Goku’s Feats Got REALLY Silly

In Episode 53, a perfected Cell utterly crushes Trunks spirit by informing him just how unblooded he is as a fighter. He then goes on to cite the feats Goku had accomplished before he was Trunks’ age… which get a little ridiculous.

But if you’ve been following his adventures since the original Dragonball, you know he’s not pulling any of it out of his ass. The rabbit Cell refers to is none other than Monster Carrot whose touch can turn anyone into a carrot and was sent to the moon with his gang; alluding to the Japanese folk tale of The Rabbit In The Moon.

Unfortunately for Monster Carrot, the moon was destroyed during the 21st World Martial Arts tournament and the Rabbit Mob have been drifting through space ever since. So sad.

Yajirobe Declares Himself “The Bean Daddy”

In Episode 35, Yajirobe comes down from Korin’s Tower to help the others prep for the oncoming android attack by supplying them with life-restoring Sensu Beans. However, quick to remove himself from the conflict, he hands them the beans with no sense of ceremony and swiftly departs with the phrase, “Bean Daddy out.”

What he doesn’t mention is that this is the ACTUAL name he gives himself when doling out Sensu Beans.

During the movie Cooler’s Revenge, an exasperated Yajirobe gets fed up with Korin’s demanding nature in the face of an emergency and takes control of Sensu distribution while declaring, “I’m The Bean Daddy this time!”

What’s great about this is how it becomes a running gag in DBZ:A as we see Korin fretting over Yajirobe’s safety after being stranded by the android attack and longing for his Bean Daddy; an in-joke among fans over the speculated nature of the mostly unseen relationship between the two and their tendency to act like an old married couple.

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 Christmas Songs: Part 3 – The Cheer Strikes Back

So, it’s come to be that time of year again. As per holiday tradition, I’ve come to present you with my gift of various Christmas carols and songs that I’ve been taking note of.

Now, normally I present you with a list of absolutely terrible songs to start. But, in my attempts to follow my unstated goal of making this blog more upbeat and positive, I’ve decided to forgo that half of the tradition this year and just jump right into the good times.

So, no more lollygagging; Let’s get this sleigh ride in gear!

A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time – Jane Lynch

This has to be the newest song I’ve ever praised in this annual series of mine. Most new Christmas songs I hear are usually just rehashings of older songs that were done much better before and/or adhere to the tropes of modern pop so tightly that they feel out of place in the season.

Not the case with A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time. Not only does this happy and bouncy number stand out from the beige sea of flatly flavorless pop music, it does so by bringing back one of my favorite genres of music; Swing.

Swing is great for when you want to liven up a party; It has all the danceability of modern EDM with the classic feeling of refinement that comes with Jazz. And on a day that should be all about celebration while fondly remembering or golden years and spreading joy to others like a classy gent/lady, a song like this really helps to put me in the spirit.

Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby & David Bowie

I mentioned in the past that of all the Christmas songs that get remade every year, Little Drummer Boy was the one that hits with me more often than it misses. I also mentioned that of all the people to cover it Burl Ives was probably my favorite.

Well, I need to amend that statement. Burl is great, don’t get me wrong, but he comes an EXTREMELY close second to Bing and David.

You’d think that pairing one of the classic king crooners with a god of Experimental Rock would be discordant at best. But then you remember how Bowie’s softer, almost dove-like tones make a perfect complement to Bing’s dulcet bass.

I also found myself enjoying the way the two sets of lyrics play off each other. While Bing retells the tale of the boy with nothing to give but a simple song, David reminds us why we need to follow that boy’s example and make the world as comfortable a home as possible for all of us.

Sleigh Ride – Los Straitjackets

You know what I never realized about most covers until this year? Half the reason I don’t like them is because the vocals are sung by people whose voices don’t carry nearly enough emotion and/or experience to justify them performing it. A lot of these covers work better just by making them instrumentals and letting the music be the centerpiece.

Case in point; Los Straitjackets’ Surf Rock cover of Sleigh Ride is an entertaining piece Christmas spirit; juxtaposing the joys of a winter ride through the snow with the music most closely associated with warm, sunny beaches.

Much like the aforementioned A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time, it’s a lively song that stands out among the more repetitive sound of other Christmas songs played back to back and that makes it a valuable spirit-lifter.

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.

Return of the Crappy Carols: Three More Terrible Christmas Songs

Last year, I gave you a short list of songs attached to the Christmas season that are guaranteed to kill my holiday spirit. However, if you thought that was all I had, prepare yourselves for another unfortunate lump of coal in your stocking. I have three more tinsel covered turds to ruin the mood.

Honestly, I’m not trying to ruin the holiday for anyone. But, if I can reach at least one musician and convince them to not pump out dreck like this, than that makes Christmas that much more merry for all of us. That said, let’s begin.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – Alvin and The Chipmunks

Good lord, I hate The Chipmunks. I hated them before it was cool to hate them. Hell, I hated them before it was cool to LIKE them.

It’s not hard to understand why I despise them so deeply. With their halfhearted covers of classic pop tunes sped up to a dog whistle-like tone, they’re the unholy union of Kids Bop and Auto Tune that physically hurts me to listen to. And when I say “physically hurts me”, I mean no exaggeration, stomach-souring, eye-twitching, muscle-spasm-inducing pain.

All of these problems are on display in this song. In fact, this one is made all the worse by being an original song as opposed to a cover; showing how terrible the writing is without the guidance of another.

What’s more, it has nothing meaningful to give us. It’s just three ‘kids’ talking about the toys that they want for Christmas with no regard for the joy of giving. Is my life really enriched by a song promoting the already over-hyped commercialism of the holiday? No, of course not.

It’s not the most offensive song – Christmas or otherwise – but it IS one of the few that drive me to such irrational rage that it makes me want to beat some unfortunate soul to death with some other unfortunate soul’s body.

Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl

This is supposed to be charming?

I really don’t get how this one ever got popular. It’s not happy, it has nothing to do with the values that we attach to Christmas, and it seems to go out of it’s way to be as mean spirited as possible.

This is one of those songs that could never be made today, but the fact that it was made with Christmas in mind while telling its bitter story and using its more ‘colorful’ language is absolutely mind-boggling to me regardless of the time in which it was made.

I really don’t think I need to justify my hate very much here, so I’m not going to comment on it any further. I would say that all you need to do is hear the song for yourself to understand, but that would require you to actually listen to it and I’m not that cruel.

The Christmas Shoes – NewSong

Okay, before we get too deep into this, I want to make it clear that this isn’t about “the Christ in Christmas.” I could sit here and rattle off how practically everything about this holiday was taken from some other celebration and that it has no place in modern Christianity, but pretending that means anything in this context a load of crap and we all know it. The fact is that everyone, regardless of faith, has the right to celebrate whenever, however, and for whatever reason they please as long as it’s not disruptive to the lives of others.

Are we clear?… Good, because this is the worst piece of music to crawl out of the gutters of the Contemporary Christian genre.

I guess this is just one of those songs that you need to say your prayers every night to appreciate, but it just sits wrong with me. I have to imagine that, if I were a devout Christian, I would be highly offended by the idea that The Great I Am would be so cold as to commit the premeditated and painfully slow murder of my mother and tell me to make my last act of love making sure she’s wearing a sweet new pair of Chuck Taylors when she gets to the pearly gates so he can use me to teach some wrinkled, rusted, rural country scrooge the true meaning of Christmas.

It wants so badly to be an uplifting message about love, kindness, and charity, but it just comes off as needlessly dark and depressing. And on a day that should be happy (and is often already depressing enough with the difficulties of shopping), I just don’t want it around me.

Three Criminally Under-Rated Christmas Specials

Today, we’ll be rounding out the trifecta of Christmas cheer with one last look at an aspect of the holidays that we all share.

It’s kind of sad that we don’t see any more Christmas specials on television. Instead, we just get the same string of Harry Potter movies that we get on Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Back in my day, we got a flood of great shows and movies around this time of year. So, in an attempt to reintroduce variety, please accept this short collection of Christmas specials that time has seemed to forget.

A Wish for Wings That Work

Peanuts wasn’t the only comic strip to get a holiday special; many people tend to forget the often politicized Outland whose most recognizable character – Opus the Penguin – got a book that was adapted for T.V.

Opus laments the fact that he was born a penguin as this means he’s a bird that can’t fly. After making a wish for fight capable wings to Santa, he starts on a journey of self-acceptance and pride in who he is.

The special features amazing visuals and gives its cast tons of personality via the political and social commentary that Outland was known for. What’s more, it also features amazing voice talent and direction – including an appearance from the recently and dearly departed Robin Williams as the disgruntled kiwi George.

This special teaches the lesson that Mick Jagger taught before it: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes,… you’ll get what you need.”

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

There have been a lot Christmas stories that attempted to revise the origins of Santa, but this one is my personal favorite.

This retelling paints the joyful holiday figure as the adopted child of immortal forces and follows his literal fight for the right to spread happiness.

As to be expected from the man who created the world of Oz, this story is grand and fantastical in scope. Combine this with the nostalgic twinge of that classic Rankin/Bass animation, and the special is a real treat.

There is a traditionally animated revision of this movie for those who hate on stop-motion animation, but I actually recommend the original for its more epic scale – especially the climax that plays out like a battle ripped straight out of one of The Lord of the Rings movies.

The Stingiest Man in Town

Another thing we aren’t lacking in the Christmas department are versions of A Christmas Carol. But, if I had to choose one, this would be it.

In the past, I’ve voiced a displeasure with musicals, but this one isn’t bad and is actually quite well written and performed. Part of that may be due to the fact that it was adapted from an original Broadway musical.

This special, although it skips over or rushes past a few iconic moments from other renditions, does so in order to expand on and focus on others. This helps us to better see and appreciate Scrooge’s transformation into the good man we know he’ll become in the end.

I could never actually choose one version of this classic, but this one is absolutely worth seeing.