Monday, December 7, 2009

Awful Christmas Music

I confess: I love Christmas music. When WLIT switches over to their holiday music programming, I play that station all the time. The kids and I sing along. It's very corny and lame.

However, I am not so lame that I don't recognize truly awful Christmas songs when I hear them, and I've heard a few this season that provoke the same type of response as
ipecac syrup.

One of them is Christmas Shoes, written and performed about 10 years ago by a group called NewSong. It's about a little boy whose mother is dying, and he wants to buy her shoes so she'll look great if she "meets Jesus tonight." It is awful for many reasons, but primarily because it is more manipulative than a tween with a joystick.

Hilariously, the guy in the video almost rolls his eyes at the little boy (at 2:20 in the vid) when the little boy looks up at him and asks him, "Sir, what am I gonna do?" If the song had gone dark at this point, it would have at least had entertainment value. But no. We're stuck with horrifying theology suggesting that God sends pathetic, poverty-stricken children and cancer as object lessons to teach a cynical, shopped-out guy "what Christmas is all about."

And what is Christmas all about, anyway? From this song, I gather it's about waiting until the last minute to buy a useless gift that the recipient will never use. Or sending your unwashed child out after curfew to do your Christmas shopping.

Another Christmas song I love to hate is
My Grown Up Christmas List, made popular by Amy Grant and covered by dozens of artists hoping to cash in on its sappy manipulation. It's like the interview portion of the Miss America Pageant set to elevator music:
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list
These are all good things to wish for. But there's nothing compelling, nothing personal, nothing challenging or new about saying, "I want all war to end." It's kind of a "duh" thing to say, even if you say it in a song.

Then there's a version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas out there--maybe Mariah Carey sings it?--that's set to such a slow tempo that you can leave your house when the song starts, drive to St. Charles to chop down your Christmas tree, bring it home, and finish decorating it before the song ends. Or you can just switch the station, which is what I do.

This one might get some flack, but I absolutely hate
The Soldiers' Night Before Christmas, a bastardization of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, set to sappy instrumentals. It's just simplistic, manipulative, clichéd rhyming. Here's a sample

His face so gentle, his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I'd just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

I couldn´t help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

I think those who serve deserve a far better tribute than this lametastic sentimentality. There are plenty of poems that honor the sacrifices that a soldier makes without resorting to maudlin clichés.

So, there you have it. I'm a giant Scrooge. Songs that are supposed to move me and touch my fossilized heart instead trigger cynicism and ridicule. But I suspect I'm not alone. What Christmas songs do you love to hate?


zabyt said...

No comments, people must be busy with all the holiday hoopla. I love the list and I'm glad that I have not endured them. I love Christmas tunes also, but I seem to get stuck in my Bruce Cockburn and Odetta CD loop. They are almost like lullabies for the holidays!

E. Peevie said...

I do not know this Odetta of whom you speak.

And you really should give up a few minutes of your life just to hear some of these horrible songs. Especially the Christmas Shoes disaster.

YouTube it, Zab. It's like a train wreck--it's horrible, but you can't stop looking at it.

Melinda said...

Lol. Christmas shoes. What a joke. I haven't heard the soldier one, but it sounds pretty bad. Songs that manipulate emotion drive me crazy.

I loath Christmas songs by country artists. Christmas music with a country twang makes my toes curl.

Kristen said...

Hahaha!! I've somehow avoided "Christmas Shoes" my whole life. Here's the Christmas song we love to make fun of around here-it's the part about "blowing our nosies" that gets me every time!

Broke but Happy said...

I got no songs to add, but I did snort with laughter through your entire post! Thanks for the entertainment, Mrs. Peevish.

Broke but Happy said...

I got no songs to add, but I did snort with laughter through your entire post! Thanks for the entertainment, Mrs. Peevish.