Christmas Music? Bah Humbug!

I'd be more inclined to have a happy holiday season if it wasn't for the gnawing, appalling soundtrack of December - Christmas music. However, there are some sprigs of holly amidst the audio avalanche of yellow snow:

I present -- The Five Best Christmas Songs:

1)    Blue Christmas, Elvis Presley. The subject matter speaks to my skepticism of the season. The King pokes fun at his own singing style with an exaggerated, swaggering vocal, and those eerie banshee back ups are a blast.

2)    Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms. Often imitated but never equaled. Rock and roll rockabilly at its most hummable.

3)    Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee. Little Miss Dynamite was all of 13 when she recorded this, another rockabilly classic with twangy guitar by Hank Garland (the same axe man on "Jingle Bell Rock") and gut-busting sax by Boots Randolph.

4)    Little Drummer Boy, The Harry Simeone Chorale and Orchestra. Touching, beautiful and warm, and that's what the holiday is supposed to be, isn't it? Credit The Jack Halloran singers for their angelic, spiritual vocals.

5)    The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole. Positive proof my Dad knew what he was talking about. This second "King" was one of his favorite singers; Nat's impeccable diction and those cascading strings have warmed even this chilly heart.

Honorable mention: Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, Bing Crosby and David Bowie. Gotta love this just for the weird factor; it's one of the strangest couplings since Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Der Bingle sang the "Drummer Boy" counterpoint to Ziggy Stardust's "Peace on Earth" and somehow neither singer tripped up. Crosby died less than a month after teaming up with Bowie. Guess the thought of his fans seeing him making nice with a bi-sexual space oddity who favored spiked red hair and make up darkened his "White Christmas."

The Worst Christmas Recordings:
A rotten fruitcake and five lumps of coal to:

1)    Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Elmo and Patsy. I'd like to run over every copy of this corny country compost heap.

2)    Jingle Bells, The Singing Dogs. Forgot about this one, didn't you? Before six year-olds could figure out how to edit music on their home computers, hicks were wowed at how the producers got the dogs to bark out the notes in tune. (Here's hint, Sparky, they didn't.) Maybe it was amusing the first go round, but after that the incessant barking (not singing) this "canine classic" was as painful as a starved Rottweiler mistaking your naughty bits for a candy cane.

3)    Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Bruce Springsteen. Bruce's herniated ho ho hoarse vocalizing makes me want to hit him with a Yule log. Please, Bruce, get put some fiber in your eggnog - you sound like you're choking on a chestnut.

4)    Santa Baby, Madonna. Madonna's Betty Boop be-doing is cheesy and sleazy. Sounds like Santa's gonna need a large dose of disinfectant after Madge sits in his lap.

5)    Dominick the Donkey, Lou Monte. I'm surprised Tony Soprano didn't put a hit on Lou for making Italian Americans look like jackasses. Hee haw, hee haw, indeed.

Dishonorable mention: A Wonderful Christmastime, Paul McCartney. No, I'm not having a wonderful Christmas, Macca, not after hearing yet another silly love song composed by a supposed legend who couldn't come up with a cogent lyric if Tiny Tim's life depended on it.

I've never heard John Denver's "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk for Christmas)", but I assure you I would if I did.

Christmas music? Bah Humbug.



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