Three Christmas Songs I will Never Get Tired Of

Last week, I gave you a short list of songs that manage to suck the Christmas joy out of me every time I hear them (and as we all know, sucking out joy is ‘Disney Evil’).

So in an attempt to lighten the mood, it’s only fair that I look at the other end of the spectrum.

These are songs that have stuck with me long enough that they’ve become a yearly tradition and I can’t call it Christmas until I’ve heard them at least once.

Snoopy’s Christmas (Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron) – The Royal Guardsmen

I actually know a number of people who don’t like or even hate the Peanuts comics and T.V. specials. But, for me, they were a formative part of my youth. They were the earliest cartoons I remember seeing.

Even ignoring the nostalgic comfort of the image of Snoopy boldly flying his dog house into battle, the story behind this song reflects what the holidays are all about in a microcosm; two people pitted against one another putting aside their affiliations to remember that they are both human (or canine as the case may be) and kin. And even though they know that they will likely meet again as enemies, they can forget their animosities for at least one day.

This song serves to remind me that we have the ability to seek out and obtain peace, effectively restoring my faith in humanity.

The Little Drummer Boy – Various Artists

This one would have to make the list regardless how I constructed it.

Sadly, in these more conservative times, I feel this song falls by the wayside due to its religious connotations and people fearing that they may offend someone. But if you look past that, you can see the true touching nature of this little carol.

The titular boy is practically destitute and has no gifts to offer; all he can do is play a small song on his drum. But that little kindness is still felt and cherished. During a time known as ‘The Season of Giving’, wouldn’t you want a song that reflects that spirit so well?

For my money, the best versions of The Little Drummer Boy focus mostly, if not exclusively, on the percussion for obvious reasons and get more powerful and booming near the end as the boy, “[plays his] best for him.” That said, I have yet to find a single one of the over thirty covers of this song I don’t like.

Wait, Justin Bieber covered it with Busta Rhymes?! NOOOOOO!!!

The 12 Days Of Christmas – Straight No Chaser

What would ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ be without a few good laughs?

Leave it to Straight No Chaser to take some of the most tired and overused Christmas anthems (plus one stray Chanukah song and a one-hit wonder from the 80’s) and breathe new life into them by creating a medley of hilarity.

The humor here is subtle. By combining so many staples of Christmas music, they satirize the way many of us feel during the holidays whenever those carols play – every song just fades into one another creating a big bland mess of sound.

Props to you, Straight No Chaser for saying what we’re all thinking in the most creative way possible.

Bonus: Santa Claus and His Old Lady – Cheech & Chong

It’s not music, but it just feels wrong to leave my most important and favorite Christmas audio tradition out of this list.

If you can’t laugh and slacker comedy pioneers Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, you have no soul and I can’t help you – close your browser window and just walk away.

This little recorded anecdote between the two most famous stoners in the history of comedy covers Cheech’s attempts to explain the story of Santa Claus to Chong because he, “[doesn’t] know too many local dudes.”

The humor comes from the fact that Cheech is attempting to explain the story in the only terms they can understand – putting it in the context of a sub-standard urban community like the one they live in. When you realize that, you also come to realize that every culture on earth has been doing the same thing for thousands of years.

Thanks for the Christmas cheer, you two. May your tree not be the only green you have this year.

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.