"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, December 11, 2009

best and worst holiday music

Inspired by a recent all-too-brief discussion on the Paul and Storm podcast, I'd like to pose the two part question "What is your favorite Christmas song and what Christmas song would you like to see eliminated from face of the planet?"

My favorites, surprisingly, are the actual honest-to-God religious carols. The top three being Silent Night, The Huron Carol and We Three Kings (especially as a jazz instrumental), although I am also partial to White Christmas and The Christmas Song, especially the Bing Crosby versions.

I realize that people's tastes vary, but it is an absolute truth that if you are over the age of ten and really like The Little Drummer Boy, it is quite possible you are a tone-deaf moron. When I snap someday and machine-gun a Christmas choir in a shopping mall, it will be because of the "Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum". "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" has also been known to bring out the Scrooge in me. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is just plain creepy. The Wham/George Michael seasonal crapfest "Last Christmas" is played 25 hours a day in every store and bar in Tokyo, which only one reason I hate it. Also, anything performed by sampling dogs or cats tends to make me cringe instantly and will result in my reporting you to the SPCA if you play it around me.

Put your choices in the comments.


Great Aunty Bertha said...

I like We Three Kings too. I also really like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, tOh Holy Nigh, and Wassail, Wassail. Oh, and of course Christmas in Killarney.

If I never hear Jingle Bells again, it will be too soon.


Anonymous said...

I think I'll go with The Holly and The Ivy - Roger Whitaker.

Feliz Navidad should never be allowed anywhere near a radio,mall, etc. if I'm anywhere near it. I will leave stores while paying if I hear it.


Shinigami Kayo said...

A Huron Carol is my favorite followed by Silver bells (as sung by Bob hope in the lemon drop kid) and Up on the roof top by Reba McEntire (brings the youth out of me)

I fell so in love with the John Denver's Rocky Moutain Christmas ALbum..that was until I reached the Track "Please Daddy, don't get drunk this Christmas". It ruined a whole album for me and I hate hate hate it. Thank god it is largely a forgotten tune. Jingle Bells is up there for dislike.Even worse if you have laughing happy people pretending in the song that they are on an actually sled ride.

Unknown said...

actually, the John Denver "please Daddy don't get drunk this Christmas" was a favorite for me - but then my daddy never got drunk at Christmas, certainly not in front of us kids anyway. My old man is generally a model of decorum, no matter what goes down and can definitely hold his drink. I don't mean to brag but my dad would be on the very short list of people I'd want at my side in a crisis as he is largely unflappable.

Having said that, I can certainly see how other people's milage on that particular song might vary

Jane2 said...

Faves: Huron Carol, O Come Emmanuel, Il Est NĂ©, I Saw Three Ships, Six White Boomers, Merry Xmas to the Famiy, St. Stephen's Day Massacre. I have a lot of faves.

Ugh: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, anything with Bing and David B. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Little Drummer Boy - Celine Dion


I have left stores when this comes on.

On the plus side, Adeste Fideles by The Pav...

Unknown said...

ye gods, Celine Dion singing Little Drummer Boy would be like a black hole of awful, sucking in all good sounds until your ears began to bleed.
Well, okay maybe you're ears wouldn't really bleed, but that is a full on double whammy of bad.

Unknown said...

My father writes:
Read your blog about Christmas songs and tried to send a comment but its too much trouble registering etc., etc.

In any case, initially I thought that I had caught you on an error when you referred to Crosby's The Christmas Song. I do not recall der Bingle ever recording the great Mel Torme classic. However, a review of my extensive vinyl collection now residing in the basement beside the laundry tub reveals that, in fact, Bing has a rendition on an obscure Christmas album of his. Notwithstanding that fact, you must acknowledge that the classic version of The Christmas Song is by none other than the great Nat "King" Cole. Everybody has recorded this classic but Nat is #1 followed by Johnny Mathis. So there.

Your selections of White Christmas and The Christmas Song are worthy after all is said and done as far as modern music is concerned. As for the classic carols and other Christmas music, there are many to choose from but one that is seldom selected and yet is a personal favourite is God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen. These days one must be certain to apply the very strategic comma, of course. The song has a great Dickensian feel to it and is not heard enough.

As for Christmas Albums, you will no doubt agree that, from a Wood family perspective, none can compare to The Muppets Christmas Album."

SeattleDan said...

If sung well, O Holy Night is beautiful. I'm also partial to Angels We Have Heard on High. As for contemporary music, Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas always gets me.

stevewoodsteel said...


Bing Crosby's White Christmas Album. Highlights: Brass on Adeste Fideles, Strings on I'll be home for Christmas and of course, the Andrews Sisters. Sigh.

Stille Nacht (must be in German): Takes me back to Christmas Eve in the little church in Mannheim. Candles. Tears.

Petit Papa Noel, Raffi: Captures beautifully the wonder and hope of Christmas from a child's eyes.

Fairytale of New York, The Pogues: A gritty and authentic look at the other sides of Christmas. A must-hear.

Honourable Mention:
Song for a Winter's Night (Lightfoot)
River (Joni)

Christmas, by Barenaked Ladies: Really, guys? Worst opening riff ever.

Wonderful Christmastime, Paul McCartney: Synth equivalent to Christmas Cake.

Merry Christmas all.

Tom said...

Not only is "The Little Drummer Boy" a miserable piece of music, but it was made into an appalling stop-motion animated TV show back in 1968. Here's a trailer: http://www.videodetective.com/titledetails.aspx?PublishedID=1578 and the climactic scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDETOAHJj1c
However, much worse than that -- partly because I am forced to hear it so much more often -- is Paul McCartney's nails-on-a-chalkboard "Wonderful Christmastime."
To end on a positive note, I do like "Sleigh Ride."

David Webb said...

Rev, your readers do not have enough hate in their souls. The worst Christmas song is "Jingle Bell Rock." And as far as I can tell, the worst version has been done by Hall 'n Oates". Defend it if you dare.

As for the best songs, simple math.

"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" by Gayla Peevey.

"Dominic the Christmas Donkey" by Lou Monte.

"Honky the Christmas Goose" by Johnny Bower.

It's like everyone has forgotten the true meaning of Christmas around here.

democommie said...

This is my favorite:


The worst? Far too many candidates. Basically anthing done by people who have no business singing outside their genres.

Anonymous said...

Chrissie Hynde belting out Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is awesome. Really moving.

I think it's on the first A Very Special Christmas CD ... the ones made for charity that go to AIDS research.

Anonymous said...

The worst? This is year it's easy -- Bob Dylan's Christmas album, the whole thing. (Warning: listen at your own risk. Before you start, however, remove animals and small children from the hearing range.)

Also, this song (scroll down to Point 1) -- every year. Every freakin' year.

David Webb said...

I stand corrected. Elizabeth is right. That gagging song puts me off my feed every year.

Unknown said...

David, I think funny (accidentally or intentionally) Christmas songs are a genre all on their own. Along with Jane's suggestion of "Merry Xmas from the Family" by Robert Earl Keen, I'd add this recent cheesy gem

Crazylegs said...

Best holiday music? Anything - and I mean anything fucking thing - sung by Burl Ives and containing any of the following words: Christmas, holly, Christmastime, reindeer, snow, snowman, and/or bells.

Carter Apps, dabbler of stuff said...

12 days of Christmas is the absolute worse song all version being crap and the Doug and Bob one the worst of the lot.

My current Fav is The Christians and the Pagans