Archive for the ‘Cover Your Ears’ Category

Do you know what I know (that this song was written by a UU)?

December 13, 2013

One of Christmas Spirit Fail’s least favorite mainstream seasonal songs–it always gets a thumbs-down when it pops up, whac-a-mole style, on our Pandora channels–is the cloying “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (Special bonus bad points when sung by Carrie Underwood below, although this song has been covered by everybody, and we do mean everybody, from St. Bing to Kenny G to Rosie O’Donnell and Elmo.)

We were always a little skeptical of this song’s rather impressionistic narrative of–maybe?–the birth of the Christ Child, with the shepherds somehow bringing the news to Herod, who welcomes the arrival of the child, the child, who will bring goodness and light.

Turns out the narrative is inspired more by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the lyricist’s desire for world peace than by Matthew or Luke. Add to this that the composer–the lyricist’s husband at the time–was a Unitarian Universalist and this Christmas spirit fail suddenly makes a lot more sense.


I saw Daddy drinking Santa Claus under the table…

December 10, 2013

One of the most confusing Christmas songs we’ve heard is “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).” Lyrically, it’s a real downer–even tear-jerker champs like “The Christmas Shoes” manage to end on a note that some less eremitic listeners might find inspirational.

But no, “Please, Daddy” goes only from “You came home a quarter past eleven/and fell down underneath our Christmas tree” to “I turned around and saw my Momma’s tears” to “I don’t want to see my Momma cry.”

Which makes the up-tempo, cheerful, major-key performances of this song most puzzling. John Denver made it famous, and Alan Jackson’s cover version is no more appropriate to the subject matter:

(The greatest irony of that fan video is the array of Thomas Kinkade jpegs the scroll by in the background.)

And so this is…Christmas Spirit Fail

November 20, 2012

Merry Christmas, failers! Welcome back to a new season of festive curmudgeonliness (or is that curmudgeonly festivity?) You may have thought that we would hang up our homburg after covering “The Christmas Shoes,” but you should have known better. Just like Peak Oil after the growth of fracking, Peak Bad Christmas Music is a long way off.

And so we present perhaps the most choleric beauty-pageant call for peace masquerading as holiday cheer: John and Yoko’s un-classic “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”:

John and Yoko manage to combine the soporific effect of Josh Groban’s “Believe,” the lyrical inanity of Taylor Swift’s “Christmas Must Be Something More,” and the quasi-ethical heavy-handedness of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” You can just about hear the Chipmunks in there if you listen hard enough. Yes, it’s a stocking overflowing with an abundance of Christmas craptitude.

Mariah, call off your fans

December 6, 2011

We at Christmas Spirit Fail have long considered Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to be “something delightful.” What people do with it, however, is usually nothing sort of dreadful.

With a tip of our hat to our excellent jam-mistress and wondrous pilgrim comes this sad homage to Miss Carey. And yes, so that the visually impaired can be fully horrified, it is a male/female pair of prancing around in leotards and Christmas stockings and lip-synching.

And now, the visual nightmare:

[Alas, this video is no longer available. — The Editors, Dec. 2013]

Pucker Up

December 2, 2011

Hello again, friends! Once again, it’s the time of year when radio stations start shaking things up by shelving their regular rotation of 20 songs in favor of their Christmas mix. You might be thinking, “Finally! I get a reprieve from Justin Bieber.” Not so fast. Standard practice among pop stars seems to be that once they reach a certain level of popularity, they take it upon themselves to reinterpret holiday favorites and to add one or two new, poorly written tunes to the anthology of bad Christmas music. This year, Justin Bieber assaults our ears with his original song, “Mistletoe.”

This should be a melancholy tune because he laments the holiday activities he’s missing due to spending time under the mistletoe. I guess it’s ok because he’s going to be “With you, shawty with you. With you, shawty with you. With you under the mistletoe.” I assume his tween fans insert themselves into this by imagining that he’s singing directly to them. Have your ears started bleeding yet? No? Keep listening for lines like, “I don’t want to miss out on the holiday, but I can’t stop staring at your face,” and “Wise men followed a star, the way I followed my heart.” (Note: those lyrics are intended to rhyme.)  

The music video contradicts the song, showing him outside in the snow-one of the things he’s supposedly not doing because he’s under the mistletoe. He also proves that he’s finally old enough to drive by briefly cruising in, but mostly just standing in front of, a Porsche. It would be much more appropriate to show him idly standing below a ball of mistletoe, staring at some girl, while the camera cuts to his friends and family enjoying the season without him. Sadly, they didn’t ask for my creative direction. Maybe next time…

Interfail relations

December 3, 2010

We here at Christmas Spirit Fail aren’t MOTs, but we extend a Happy Hanukkah to all our Jewish readers.

At first we thought we would send out this video as a Hanukkah greeting; after all, it’s been circulating pretty extensively on the blogs we read.

And yes, it’s a pretty good beat. And a pretty fun video put together by the Maccabeats, a delightfully named a capella troupe at Yeshiva University. But we had never heard of “Dynamite” or Mike Tompkins, and when we realized that “Candlelight” is a knockoff/parody/tribute, we were no longer as amused.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled tidings of comfort and goy.

Better than a hippo

December 13, 2009

Also in the annals of adorable little girls singing irritating songs about Christmas is Gayla Peevey, who recorded “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” in 1953 at age ten.

Gayla’s is actually a somewhat inspiring story. The song became a nationwide hit, propelling the Oklahoma child star to national renown amusement. The Oklahoma City Zoo used the song to raise funds to buy a hippopotamus, which Gayla herself presented to the zoo.

Gayla went on to have an unremarkable career as a child singer and then, under a stage name as a teenager, pop singer. But this Christmas story actually has a happy ending: unlike so many child stars, Gayla ended up finishing college, enjoying careers in teaching and advertising, and having a daughter and three grandkids (if Wikipedia is to be believed).

So, gentle readers, even if Gayla never got her own hippo for Christmas, she got a lot more out of life.

A is for Annoying

December 6, 2009

I’ve never understood why anyone liked Alvin and the Chipmunks. They’re not funny and their voices make your ears bleed. In the grand tradition of Christmas commercialization, this song is all about the toys these Snuggie-wearing chipmunks want for Christmas.

One other thing I don’t understand is why Alvin is the only chipmunk with a monogrammed turtleneck/Snuggie/sweater dress. Simon is characterized by glasses, which apparently means he’s smart, Theodore is the fat one who eats all the time so wouldn’t Alvin by default be the other one? He’s also the shortest and the most annoying. Oh, that’s why there’s an ‘A’.

Rock of ages

November 23, 2009

I remember when rock was young.
The songwriters had so much fun.
They took greetings of the holiday,
And played them in a rock-and-roll way!

First came Bobby Helms in 1957 with “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Then Brenda Lee upped the ante in 1958 with “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

Audiences swooned, and America’s department stores signed what can only have been an irrevocable, 200-year contract with Helms and Lee to play their songs every ten minutes from Halloween to New Year’s.

Despite near-total saturation of rock-and-roll Christmas songs, some artists have continued to inflict rock-themed songs on us. Indeed, by the 1980s, they just needed to stop:

(Go, Santa, go . . . far away from here.)

And this profusion of rock-themed ohrwurms has brought with it a hideous array of covers, which are designed to fill in all the empty spots between the original “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” on the radio. Because we care for you, we’ll leave you with only this example:

When Christmas Carols Are Given the Hard Rock Treatment…

November 22, 2009

…you end up wishing that electronic instruments did not exist. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra knows exactly how to ruin most of my favorite Christmas carols and while they’re at it, they create new Christmas songs that make you want to wear ear plugs when entering any store during the holiday season. When did anyone ever think it would be a good idea to turn Pachelbel’s Canon in D major into a Christmas song? 

Not only is this song terrible, this video uses is a collection of idyllic Thomas Kinkade scenes as a backdrop. It seems highly unlikely that a screeching electric guitar would ever find its way into one of the Painter of Light’s villages.