So my 30th Christmas season has come and gone, as it always does. It went well for me, and I hope yours went well for you. Okay, the pleasantries are out of the way, so let’s move on.
If anything at all is going to get under my skin in the holiday season, now that I no longer work registers at clothing stores, it’s the irritating music. Christmas music in general is fine. Some of them are really pretty, a small few are actually pretty cool, and many of them are just plain classic. But they should all be treated with the utmost respect and caution. Problems come into play when people throw caution to the snowdrifts and think, “Heck, Ma! It’s Christmas! Let’s sing some songs!”
No, Pa. You should not. At least not until you’ve taken some time to do some serious examination of what you’re about to do. Here’s a small guide on a few well-loved and often-abused songs that you can take note on for next year’s joyous season.
O Holy night
This one gets mentioned first because it is the most abused of ALL Christmas songs. Do not attempt this song unless you are a professional vocalist or have had at least two full years of extensive vocal training. I’ve heard non-professional and seemingly-untrained vocalists pull this song off before, but they are the exception, not the rule. If you decide to not heed this warning and think, “how hard can it be?” you may end up here:
You may have heard that before. You may know that the original singer sang it years ago as a private, fun thing that was never in a million years intended to become famous in the internet. You also may know, like me, that high F can kill more eardrums than a Raid® bomb in a hornets nest. (What?) Play it safe–skip that one.
Little Drummer Boy
This song is actually tricky for the sole fact that the line “Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum” can sound really stupid really easily. Vocal training is not the issue here. I would want to say it’s showmanship, but that’s not the case, either, because Bob Seger absolutely butchered this song:
I think the issue hear is style. I don’t think it rocks well. Years ago I fell in love with Whiteheart’s version. But I was, like, 12. I’m not that impressed anymore, and you know what does it in? That stupid “Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum” line. Rick Florian, you have not aged well this time, even with your very fine Brad Delp impersonation at the climax (may he rest in peace).
You know the only version of this song I’ve heard that didn’t make my ears twitch was that odd Bing Crosby and David Bowie pairing.
But maybe it’s just the distraction of Bowie’s “Peace on Earth” counter-melody, and then also the whole thing of Bowie and Bing being in the same room.
Leave this one to the choirs, me thinks.
This one runs into a similar issue as does “O Holy Night,” but the exact opposite. You cannot allow yourself to show off during “Jingle Bells.” It comes across like something akin to Christina Aguilera trying to impress people with “Ring Around the Rosie.”
Julie, show them what I mean.
Her precision, her demeanor, her vibrato . . . it’s all too much. Way too much. This is too basic of a song for such theatrics–this is a song for 8-year-olds to be forced to sing awkwardly in their music classes. Let’s leave it to them.
Wonderful Christmas time
Hmm. You know what? Just don’t play or sing that song EVER. Paul–what happened, man?
Okay, to end on a positive note. Back in my aforementioned days as a point of sale associate for Kohls, I always heard this horrific rendition of “Deck the Halls” being played in the store. It made my days worse, three minutes at a time. Years later, I had the internet at my disposal, so I searched for it, found it, and then listened to it more closely . . . and I’ll be darned if it isn’t actually pretty cool–albeit in a very angular way. But I like it. It passes. Just not very cool during a 9-hour shift on Black Friday.
If you just loathed that, you might want to try to understand The Roches a little first.
Happy New Year from me and mine!