1. says

    I find Christmas carols generally tedious (if not actually obnoxious, e.g., “Drummer Boy”), but this one has won my approval. Charmingly upbeat. Splendidly snarky.

  2. davidc1 says

    @1 For a really ,really ,really stomach churching example of Little Drummer Boy ,you should (you really should ,honest ) try and find the godawful bing crosby ,and David Bowie version from 1977 .It is on youtube ,go on i double dare you .

  3. PaulBC says

    @2 Can’t say I was looking for one. (I really hate that song.)

    I like the old carols (God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen) and some religious ones. (Not a faith thing, just familiarity.) I usually struggle to find anything I enjoy, but the Ella Fitzgerald album “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas” hits all the marks. What can I say? This is not a time when I wish to be challenged. The new stuff is mostly crap.

  4. PaulBC says

    Mostly off topic, but this inspired me to put on some appropriate music, and…

    To face unafraid the plans that we made.

    Am I the only one who imagines a noir backstory to Winter Wonderland. They did say they were going to “conspire”, and the bit with the snowman parson sounds awfully shady to me. Clearly in denial about something. What’s next, a snowman divorce lawyer?

    What I’m imagining is an affair to be consummated with a spousal murder and a massive insurance payoff. Maybe the last Winter Wonderland they’ll experience before fleeing to Barbados. You could definitely spin this into a dark holiday classic.

  5. blf says

    Another really really stomach-aching bile-frothing spittle-inducing rendition of a seasonal song is the recent (this year) Jon Bon Jovi version of Fairytale of New York. As Irish musician Rob Smith said, “[…] It’s the worst thing to ever happen music, and I am including both the murder of John Lennon and Brian McFadden’s solo career in there. This is worse! Thanks a lot, Jon. Kid’s crying now saying ‘Christmas is ruined’.” The YouTube video has (currently) only 1.4K likes and 6.2K dislikes (yea, yea, I know, YouTube comments and all that…). Ouch ! Oh my ears… I myself have not been able to listen to that travesty all the way through.

  6. lumipuna says

    blf – there’s also a Finnish parody of the official Finnish lyrics of “Santa Claus is coming to town”. Some lines in my free translation:

    You better not touch, you better not hug
    A plexiglass window might stop the bug
    Santa Claus is not coming now

    You better not sneeze, you better not cough
    Or the response from people is rough
    Santa Claus is not coming now

    In other news, I’m happy because I just found the Finnish version of “Walking in the air” I heard live in a church years ago:

  7. whheydt says

    My general take is that Christmas music is horribly overdone. Secondly, everyone who does a new version seems to think they have to tinker with it make it “new” or “different”, almost invariably making the song worse.

    All that said, besides Randy’s filk, there have been some other good treatments, as well. There is old British version the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that starts with..

    The first time I made it up,
    The demi said to me,
    There’s one metal more in group III.

    And ends with…

    Better take up Physics.

    IIRC, the penultimate one is:

    What was that explosion?

  8. microraptor says

    Christmas music is definitely overdone. Drummer Boy, White Christmas, Santa Baby, and It’s Cold Outside are the worst offenders, IMO.

  9. says

    My personal favorite:

    And yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism
    The commercialisation of an ancient religion
    And the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
    Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
    But I still really like it

  10. PaulBC says

    @12 Yeah, that xkcd is a valid observation. I draw the line on canon somewhere in the mid-50s. My father actually liked Jinglebell Rock if I’m not mistaken, which seemed little unusual for him (can’t say it ever did much for me as a child in the 70s). Nobody in our family liked Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree as far as know (but I haven’t polled). Feliz Navidad is “novelty” in my book along with Grandma Got Run Over by Reindeer. And I am too old to wrap my head around the idea of Mariah Carey’s 1994 Christmas album as “classic.” (But give me a couple more decades. She’s in the running. You can do a lot worse.)

    All that said, the traditional ones still feel a lot more Christmassy to me, including the religious ones, and a little Latin (“Venite adoremus”) doesn’t hurt.

    I think what I can’t stand about Little Drummer Boy is that it’s not pure fluff like Frosty the Snowman (and Ella does a great rendition of that as well as Santa Claus is Coming to Town… “Look at that crazy red suit”). It has religious pretensions but it’s pure kitsch. OMG it sucks. It is the absolute worst.

  11. consciousness razor says

    @12 Yeah, that xkcd is a valid observation.

    Another one: for many, it just boils down to the lyrics. For instance, would PZ otherwise be interested in a (non-parody) version of “Rudolph” by Randy Rainbow? Doubtful. Tim Minchin always gets an honorable mention around these parts too, for similar reasons. Or look to basically every comment here so far.

    So, okay, maybe you like or dislike whatever you think the words are supposed to mean. Maybe it’s a message you want to endorse or reject for some reason. Fine, whatever. You have views about some lyrics, and you can have them. It’s bound to happen. But if you think it’s like reading the contents of this thread, which consists of words, then you seem a bit confused about what this whole “listening to music” thing is about.

  12. PaulBC says


    But if you think it’s like reading the contents of this thread, which consists of words, then you seem a bit confused about what this whole “listening to music” thing is about.

    I’m very naive about music to be sure, but the reason I enjoy Ella Fitzgerald’s renditions is her phrasing… at least I think I’m getting this concept right. There’s nothing very special about Frosty or Santa Claus, but she gets me swinging along to her swinging Christmas. This is definitely about music, not meaning, even if I’m not coming at it with an expert ear.

    Same, I would say, as I imagine carolers singing God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman or a church choir singing Adestes Fideles. I’m not looking for insight or even snark. The words can’t be totally off the point, but they’re not my focus in this case.

    That said, the satires will always be there. People can like them if they want. I simply have incredibly boring tastes in Christmas music, nearly fixed in time as suggested by the xkcd comic.

  13. John Morales says

    Wouldn’t be Xmas without It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fishmen, and the other carols by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. Much superior to the originals.

  14. gijoel says

    I like Paul Kelly’s ‘How to make gravy.’ You wouldn’t think a letter from a prisoner to his brother would become a Christmas classic, but there you go. Apparently he wanted to do another song for Xmas album, but that song had already been covered. So he wrote this classic instead.

  15. PaulBC says

    gijoel@25 That’s a great song! It doesn’t exactly say Christmas to me, but it’s very touching.

  16. says

    Quite a while ago my bro in law and I got in serious trouble with my extremely Christmasy sister. Family was singing whichever carol ends “In excelcis Deo…” He and I looked at each other and slid into “Day-o! Daaaaay-o! Daylight come and I want go home”. Worth every bit of her displeasure. Funny thing, she’s an atheist too. She just digs Christmas.

  17. PaulBC says

    jimatkins@27 Funny! I can’t see anyone finding that offensive but whatever. I think Garrison Keillor did that. Not exactly the edgiest Christmas joke ever.

  18. Rob Grigjanis says

    PaulBC @29: I can’t see anyone finding puerile humour offensive either. Tiresome, maybe.

  19. robro says

    xkcd didn’t include “Santa Baby” (1953). That’s the only seasonal song that I hear that I can tolerate…once. But by the 2nd or 3rd time I’m over it, and after 20 times I’m nuts. But of course, by that time I’ve also heard “White Christmas”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and “Little Drummer Boy” 50 times, so maybe the overwhelm just builds up to a…

    Wow! I just realized something! It’s a little over a week to Christmas, and I haven’t heard a single Christmas song. Perhaps there’s an up side to this social distancing, staying out of public places thing. May be the best COVID present I’ll get.

  20. Jazzlet says

    I’m partial to “I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday” by Wizard, in part because of the joy to be had singing it with 30,000 other people in a field in Oxfordshire on a roasting hot August day.

  21. davidc1 says

    @32 What about Slade ,and their contribution to things that annoy the hell of us every year ?
    Anyone heard Cledus T Judd’s epic xmas song “Grandpa Got Runned Over by a John Deere “?

  22. skeptuckian says

    For the sing-a-long:
    Stop your messing around;
    Better think of your future,
    Time to straighten right out,
    Creating problems in town.
    A message to you, Rudy.
    A message to you.

  23. favog says

    My song this time of year is “Solstice Evergreen” by Spiral Dance. It sounds like a Christmas song but is somehow pleasant any way, and then when you listen to the lyric, it’s (gasp!) pagan. The Holly Lord and the Holy Lord aren’t the same dude. And @25 gijoel; Paul Kelly is awesome. An Aussie I was acquainted with back in the eighties introduced me too him and I’m still feeling lucky about it.

  24. birgerjohansson says

    Xmas song from Spitting Image 30 years ago when another tory asshole was in power.
    (Notice “dole” means unemployment benefits, and UB 40 is the form you need to fill in)
    “Santa Claus is on the dole
    The UB 40
    Santa Claus is on the dole
    You might as well be naughty”

  25. PaulBC says

    favog@37 The Christian message of O Tannenbaum seems a bit tacked on. It is mostly about how nice it is to have an evergreen in the winter.

    I’ll have to track down more Paul Kelly to listen to. I liked that song. I don’t know if he ever made an impact in the US (by 1996 I was not looking for new music).

  26. gearloose says

    whheydt @10: Happy memory of a Pete Seeger concert at my high school spring 1957. Google has the lyrics.

  27. birgerjohansson says

    Achmed the Dead Terrorist made a fine performance of ‘Djingle Bombs’ at Jeff Dunham show.

  28. bravus says

    Was singing ‘White Christmas’ to myself this morning, and realising that, in the context of the current resurgence of white supremacism, it kinda hits different.

    (I know it’s about snow, but still… “And may all your Christmases be white”…)

  29. whheydt says

    Re: gearloose @ #41…
    That’s the one. If you were in high school in 1957, you’ve got at least 5 years on me.

  30. favog says

    As for how close Paul Kelly came to US recognition, so far as I know, it was when his song “Dumb Things” (bravus’s fave) was used in a movie when Kirstie Alley’s character went into labor. (I think the movie was “Look Who’s Talking”; I wasn’t actually watching but it caught my attention when I recognized the song.) Others of his that I particularly enjoy are “Little Decisions” (it’s the one that caused my Aussie acquaintance to direct me to Paul’s stuff in the first place), “Forty Miles to Saturday Night”, “Anastasia Changes Her Mind” and “Deeper Water”.

    And on the subject of the novelty of a prison-based Christmas song, let us not forget the late, great John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison”.

  31. PaulBC says

    favog@46 I think peak Aussie occurred some time in the mid-to-late 80s. I was certain we were all going to start talking like Crocodile Dundee and demanding vegemite sandwiches. WTF happened?

    (Uh we didn’t all have to learn Japanese either, so I give up. I’d love to visit Australia some time though… or Japan, but I think I’d put Australia on the list first given the choice.)