Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Top 5 Bottom 5: Merry Christmas And Stop It Immediately

Whew! So...that's over. Pretty much all the hardcore Christmas stuff is done with. All the diet and weightloss commercials have already replaced the food and booze commercials on tv and radio, and most retail outlets are done blasting us with Holiday Music.

Good, because now I'm sick of all of it.

But there are a few Christmas songs I always abhor. Are you with me? Let's find out. Here's my list of
5 Christmas Songs I Absolutely Hate

1. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
2. All I Want For Christmas Is You
3. Merry Christmas Darling
4. The Twelve Days Of Christmas
5. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Oh, don't even tell me that these don't make your skin crawl. I've already talked about that first one; it's so godawful that it made my All-Time Worst Songs list, which was my first ever Stuff post. In it, I characterized #1 by saying it "is the most retarded, rednecked bastardization of the Yuletide tradition I have ever heard. If I have heard one West Virginian-accented male voice hee-haw his way through a request for this little ditty on the radio, I have heard a thousand. Time to thin the herd." #2, a song by Mariah Scarey, is hilariously described on Wikipedia as a song whose "protagonist declares that she does not care about Christmas presents or lights; all she wants for Christmas is to be with her lover." How sweet. And Mariah declares this in a shrill, hooting voice that makes us aware that not only did she supposedly train for opera, but she also belongs in a Memorex commercial. She is just horrifying in general anyway. #3 is a terribly soporific song brought to us by the originators of the Soft Rock Genre, the Carpenters. This awful, draggy, when-will-it-be-over song is so boring that it should be used to quell prison riots. I once had to sing it in choir in high school. We all detested it, and the only way we could make it remotely endurable was to enunciate one memorable piece of phrasing thusly: "...I wish you could see...I wiSHIT ev'ry day." The director begged us not to do it during the concert and was positively ashen with anxiety the night of performance. Finally, the last two are self-evident, I think, but since #4 has so many incarnations, someone obviously thinks it has redeeming value. To which I must respond, "Like What!?" It's dreadful in absolutely every respect. Even The Muppets can't save this atrocious carol. It's repetitious, annoying, and possibly worst of all, slightly mathy. Ugh. And #5 suffers similar maladies, minus the mathiness, but with the addition of plain old bossiness. What other holiday song contains a stern order to "bring figgy pudding right here!"? Moreover, those martinets threaten that they "won't go until they get some," which I'm pretty sure is squatting or unlawful habitation, both of which are illegal. Makes the title of that song pretty ironic now, doesn't it? Wow.
But, all that's over now, and we are spared for another year. Bring on the Groundhog Hymns.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Out With The Olde And In With The New: Jazz Things Up With More Modern Christmas Songs

For some, Christmas is all about tradition, right down to the songs. I used to be that way, but as I got older, I started to get downright sick of all the Same Old Christmas Carols. It really hit home when my brother-in-law Tom started singing It Came Upon A Midnight Clear to the tune of O Little Town Of Bethlehem and it fit! (Try it. Seriously.) So many Christmas carols are boring and repetitive. They get annoying, let's face it.

Add to that the fact that my husband is sort of a Christmas Curmudgeon. It was time to shake things up and embrace some new Christmas Music. (Thank goodness for Trans-Siberian Orchestra!) I did, and here is a sampling of

New Christmas Songs I Like

1. Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
2. Happy Christmas by John Lennon
3. The Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack
4. Old City Bar by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
5. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
6. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen by Mannheim Steamroller

I know. It seems like I'm a little stuck on God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, but in actuality, I'm not. Fascinated by the grammar possibilities presented by the comma placement, yes, but beyond that, I like when someone jazzes up a stodgy old song. And, truly...anything done by TSO for Christmas is excellent. If you listen to their entire CD of Christmas Eve and Other Stories, it follows a very captivating narrative. Rick, Jared, Sam, and I really enjoy going to see them when their tour comes to Cleveland. And although Charlie Brown has been around for years and years, most people don't put those tunes in the canon of Christmas carols. Especially that catchy instrumental called Linus and Lucy that plays when all the kids are dancing at rehearsal.
Next post: Christmas Songs We Hate. (You know they're out there.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On The First Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me...Hey! What Was Up With All The Birds, Anyway? There's A Guy Who Needed Some Therapy.

'Tis The Season. Christmas music is everywhere, and you cannot escape it. Some retail outlets have been playing it since November 1st. At my house the rule is No Christmas music until December 1st. I'm kind of a Traditionalist like that.

And some people are Traditionalists about their Christmas music. They like the Old Stuff. No jazzed-up versions, no new soft-rock songs from pop stars to break into their pantheon of standards. Some people, however, are more eclectic; they eagerly add to their collections of Christmas music and embrace the New Stuff.

Let's take a look at both kinds, shall we? In this post, I'll give you a list of

Classic Christmas Songs I Like
1. Do You Hear What I Hear
2. Carol of the Bells
3. The Little Drummer Boy
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
5. Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker
6. In the Bleak Midwinter
7. O Come O Come Emmanuel

Some of these I like because I used to sing them in choir or, even longer ago, in church. I can still remember the rising crescendo and harmony of Do You Hear What I Hear when we sang it in high school. It always made me cry just a little. And the lyrics of In the Bleak Midwinter are so lovely. I like the James Taylor version; his voice is so comfortable, like this old pair of bluejeans I used to wear of Rick's that were already broken-in and soft. When James Taylor gets to the last verse, I am already misty and thoughtful. And even though the lyrics of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas are full of rose-colored lies, I can't help myself. Sometimes, I think a few moody, haunting Christmas songs need to be tossed into the mix, and that's where O Come O Come Emmanuel fits in. It's got a great lilting depth to it and some really sad, scary lines in there that remind everyone that not everything about the whole Christian thing is all holly berries and eggnog.

Now it's your turn in Comments. What Christmas Classics do you favor?

Next post: New Christmas Carols I Like

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What In The Hell Am I Talking About?

Did you ever hear something come out of your mouth and think, That's something I never thought I'd hear myself say"? That happens to me way more than I care to admit. Here's my list of

Stuff I Can't Believe I Heard Come Out Of My Own Mouth

1. They should have put a hip roof on that shed.
2. Who is available as a free agent at the All Star break?
3. With his speed and heat, Kerry Wood should have been a closer all along.
4. They are going to lose control of that concrete in this heat if they don't put some water on it.
5. The Titans will never cover that spread; I think the line is way off this week.

I know, right? Who is writing the post this week? This is what happens when an artsy-literary-foodie marries a carpenter/construction/sporty guy and gives birth to two sons. It's called self-defense. I now have an expanded lexicon that includes building and carpentry terms like hip roof, and sports terms like free agency and closer. During one memorable dinner, I mastered the complexities of the NBA's midlevel exception and Bird rights and how it all related to "our" team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Good heavens. And while last year, I couldn't even sit through a football game, this year I'm in the family pool and betting the Vegas line. (Which I detest, by the way. I can do swimmingly picking the winners, but is that enough for Jared? Oh, no. For it is not enough to know who is better. "Anyone can know that, Mom," he says derisively. "The challenge is to know how much better they are. And that is the point spread." Sigh. Why is he so difficult?)

What about all of you? What do you find yourself talking about that amazes you? Let's see if your stuff expands our vocabulary!


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