Let's talk about music for a few minutes, shall we? It seems like a good idea, given that this half-music blog hasn't done much music-ing since this holiday series began. Let's also acknowledge that music discussion naturally lends itself to the unleashing of my inner snob. It's not my finest attribute, granted, but I have learned how to use it to my advantage at times. Like now, as I present you with my all-time Holiday Pop Bottom Ten, the songs that will get you thrown the hell off my porch if you even think about caroling them in my direction.
CONVOLUTED CRITERIA: These are all pop songs, not traditional carols. A pop singer butchering a traditional carol is acceptable, but Christmas tunes that pre-date the rock 'n' roll era on their own are ineligible. The songs must have been hits, or at least demonstrably popular somewhere. While I'm a big fan (I guess) of my William Hung Christmas album, as well as the one with carols performed entirely through farting, I'm also willing to acknowledge that the audience for those is limited. Videos alone aren't enough to qualify a performance. Divorced from its ridiculous visual component, I like Hall & Oates' version of "Jingle Bell Rock." Songs are listed in no particular order, except for number one.
Enough with the explanations and qualifications: let's cover our ears!
10. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer", Elmo and Patsy. The audible definition of something that's trying far too hard to be funny. I was ten or so when the dreadful thing gained popularity, and championed it, as kids will, simply because it pissed off my parents so much. I also backed myself into a corner with it: "Mom, I want that record!" Came home, threw it on my little turntable...and realized that I'd wasted my week's allowance on a song that I didn't really like, and that was on the radio every five minutes. Lesson learned, I think.
9. "The Happy Elf", Harry Connick, Jr. A mainstay of my time working Christmases at Borders, or perhaps a mainstay of my friends there trying to get my goat a bit. Either way, imagine dealing with Westchester County customers setting new standards in entitlement with this smarmy bit of Christmas crud looping in the background. To this day, I still refer to it as "The Crappy Elf." I don't care that that's completely un-clever; it's true, damn it.
8. "Christmas Wrapping", The Waitresses. You're gonna miss this one this year. Got it. No need to repeat the sentiment for the next five minutes ad nauseam. I've got it on good authority that Chrissie Hynde sends coal to her pale imitators. Or a PETA t-shirt drenched in red paint. Or something.
7. "Dominick the Donkey", Lou Monte. Just you move over, Mario and Snooki: it turns out that neither of you is America's most beloved ethnic stereotype, at least not in December. Aside from number one, this is easily the song on this list that sends me uppa-da-wall the quickest. Congratulations, I guess.
6. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", John Cougar and/or Mellencamp. I can't stand Mellencamp no matter which surname he's using right now. I can't stand this song no matter who sings it. Ergo, it's a perfect match, at least insofar as things that suck monumentally can be described as "perfect". The audio equivalent of coal, coal, and more coal.
5. "Please Come Home for Christmas", Bon Jovi. 'Tis the season for some hairspray. Fa la la la la, la la la *click*.
4. "All I Want for Christmas is You", Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey. A real accomplishment: the rest of the songs on this list have made it here by annoying the hell out of me for years. This monument to insincerity and auto-tune managed that feat in the less than two weeks since it was unveiled at the Rockefeller Center special. Kudos, Mariah and Justin, kudos.
3. "Wonderful Christmastime", Paul McCartney. In which the Cute Beatle sets his new Casio synthesizer to the "high pitched fart noises" setting and sings all cute-like over the results. As usual with McCartney as a solo artist, cute quickly gives way to smug, and the unfailing melodic sense that generally redeems him in moments like this is completely MIA here. What's left is the aural version of preening and, well, the high-pitched fart noises.
2. "Do They Know It's Christmas", Band Aid. Charity is wonderful, and an integral part of the holiday season. That said, this song itself is utterly dreadful. Monotonous? Check. Tuneless? Check. Depressing? Check. Sanctimonious? Check, beginning with the title and continuing all the way to the last echo-chambered chorus. Sung by a choir of Brits likely more interested in how much mug time they got in the resulting video than actually being able to find Ethiopia on a map? Absolutely.
1. "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", The Chipmunks. Oh my god shut it off no really please shut this crap the hell off holy sweet Jesus that high-pitched whining makes me wish I were deaf AAAALLLLLVVVVIIINNN oh god where's the turkey baster maybe I can pierce my eardrums with it.
HONORABLE MENTION: "Elf's Lament", by the Barenaked Ladies featuring Michael Buble. That's right: The Barenaked Ladies featuring Michael Buble. Let that high-talent combination sink into your grey matter for a minute or two. I've never actually heard it. I saw it on a list, and verified its existence elsewhere on the 'net with the volume on my speakers pointedly OFF. Dear readers, I love and appreciate you dearly, but there is only so much I'm willing to endure in the name of research. I trust you understand.
DISQUALIFIED: The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York", Joni Mitchell's "River", and Wham!'s "Last Christmas", while set in the holiday season, are not actually Christmas songs in any sort of deck-the-halls sense. For the record, I love the first named of those, admire the second without generally wishing to invite the depression that comes with hearing it, and shrug in the general direction of the third.