Nonsense, horsefeathers, and idle musings from a decade in South Korea (2002-2012).


21 December, 2012

So We're Still Doing That Christmas Music Thing, Eh?

By Aaron
21 December, 2012

After a decade in Korea - where, for most folks, Christmas means little more than an extra day off work - I confess that my first holiday season in the United States since 2001 has caught me off guard. I'm not talking about all the Christmas decorations that begin to appear on the day after Halloween - I remembered those. I haven't been surprised to see It's a Wonderful Life listed each day in my TV Guide (though I am surprised that Elf has evidently become mandatory holiday viewing) - Jimmy Stewart has owned December since before I was born. And the "Buy, Buy, Buy" commercialism of Christmas doesn't seem to be any worse than it ever was - people have always bought, bought, bought at this time of year. 

But the music: I had forgotten just how unlistenable the great bulk (+/-99.87%) of Christmas music is. Not that this should be a surprise. Imagine that we as a society decided that, for one month each year, we'd devote our ears to songs celebrating truck-driving. To be sure, we'd get the occasional "Six Days on the Road" and "Broke Down South of Dallas," but there's only so much to say about truck-driving and only so many ways to cover "Six Days on the Road" (see here and here for two of the better covers). Pretty soon, we'd all begging to hear anything except another damn song about big rigs, lot lizards, and the lonely life of the highway. 

So, too, for Christmas music: what can be said about the holiday has, it seems, already been said and the only thing to do now is to annually recycle the output of bygone years. Thus, while Pavarotti can sing "O Holy Night" for me anytime of the year, I will live happily ever after if I never have to hear another droning version of "Silver Bells," an unbearably unabridged version of "The 12 Days of Christmas," or the Beach Boys ruining "Little Deuce Coupe" with their 1964 exercise in blasphemy, "Little Saint Nick." Most of this music, were it any good, would remain in our playlists throughout the year. That it does not ought to tell us something about what we force-feed ourselves each December.

Among the nominees for worst Christmas train wreck of all time, this music video featuring Bing Crosby and David Bowie stands alone (h/t Mike Munger). These two could have at least assumed names for their characters in the video so that, even as a young child, I wouldn't have constantly asked myself why I was supposed to believe that David Bowie wouldn't know who Bing Crosby was but could nevertheless settle into instant harmony with the old codger. Goodness do I hate to see a great like Crosby - whose renditions of "Misty," "Moonglow," and "My Funny Valentine" are among my favorites - doing this to himself.



Fortunately, we share this world with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, who've brought us their version of the Crosby-Bowie paring:




Even better, we're nearing the end of the Christmas Music Gauntlet. Just a few more days...





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