Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Best and Worst: Christmas Music Edition

So, ever since the day after Thanksgiving, and not one minute before, I've been listening to one of the Christmas music channels on my car radio. I think there are 3 channels--one is primarily Bing Crosby, one is primarily the Chipmunks, and I listen to the other one. By now I have lots of opinions on Christmas music.

These are the songs that will make me turn the radio off:

1. I don't even know what it's called, but it's awful. Some lisping child's voice singing about Santa Claus being stuck inside their chimney--in different verses, for a day, a week, a year. Awful.

2. "Home for the Holidays," especially as sung by Karen Carpenter. I don't know why this one grates so. Schmaltzy--but so are so many others.

3. "Santa Baby," especially as sung by Madonna. Let's take a jolly old mythical character and sing smut about him. That's the spirit.

4. "My Favorite Things." I have no problem at all with this song in its proper context, which is the first act of The Sound of Music. It is Not. Christmas. Music. And there's a version by Rod Stewart, which truly defies belief.

5. Dominic the Christmas Donkey. You don't hear this one much, thankfully. The chorus is "Eee--oin! Eee-oin!"

And then with these I'm guaranteed to sing along:

1. O Holy Night. My favorite Christmas carol, always, even though I don't have a hope of hitting the high notes. Josh Groban can.

2. "Baby, It's Cold Outside." You'd think I wouldn't like it, but I do--especially the Rod Stewart version. Go figure.

3. "Mary, Did You Know?" by Pentatonix. OK, this is also not a Christmas song, and it also comes from a musical (Godspell). But at least it's about baby Jesus, not whiskers on kittens. I would probably listen to Pentatonix sing their way through the phone book. Or even "Home for the Holidays."

4. Everything by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but especially The Mad Russian. You can't really sing, since it's instrumental. However, you can hum all the Nutcracker bits, and you can air-conduct.

5. The entire Barry Manilow Christmas album. Yes, I blush to admit it--but man, he can sing, and he sounds so happy about it. Happy Holidays! HAPPY Holidays!

What about the rest of you? Loves? Hates?


  1. My hates: the Christmas Shoes, Once in Royal David's City (because the kids sing it badly at church every year), bad covers. My loves: Carol of the Bells; The Beach Boys Christmas Album; the James Taylor Christmas album, especially Baby, It's Cold Outside with Natalie Cole (the Dean Martin version is horrid); and I still get nostalgic singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel at church for the 4 Sundays in Advent.

    C in DC

  2. I love the old carols. The really old ones, written before 1900. O Little Town of Bethlehem; The Holly and the Ivy; The Wassail Song; What Child Is This?; Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella; The Coventry Carol; In the Deep Midwinter; Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming; Adeste Fideles (which I especially like to sing in Latin), It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, and so on. I once won a bet (a very nice dinner at a lovely restaurant in New York City) from a friend who didn't believe I could actually sing all five verses of Good King Wenceslas. (Don't ever bet me on anything.) When I lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, caroling with my block association was one of the high points of my year. By the way, for the record, I'm Jewish. Just love the music. And the stories. For many years, my brother-in-law got a kick out of telling his friends that the only member of his family who'd go to Midnight Mass with him at Christmas was his Jewish sister-in-law. About the only thing I love post-1900 is Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. I adore it, and know the whole thing by heart.


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