Archive for the ‘Noisome Night’ Category

When parents aren’t guardians

December 13, 2016

Christmas Spirit Fail takes no pleasure in the poor decisions of those too young, really, to know better. That’s what parents are for.

And in this case, 11-year-old Cruz Beckham’s parents have failed him.


From the autotuned voice to the limited vocal range (at least he didn’t try to be Mariah) to the insipid and inscrutable lyrics,* this effort is wholly forgettable. And yet…

If everyday was Christmas and I can be with you
Underneath the mistletoe
Kiss you when nobody knows

Christmas Spirit Fail doesn’t care if you’re 11. You try getting with our daughter “when nobody knows” and every day will indeed be Christmas–since that Christmas will be your last, Casanova. The “fire started blazing bright” will be our fury, and the “wintersnow” you don’t mind will be what your ass will be thrown out on for attempting to mack with our little girl.

Perhaps the greatest enormity of all? Getting your humble CSF team to admit that we agree with Piers Morgan. A Christmas miracle indeed.

*What does “I wish everyday was Christmas with you?” even mean? What about “If everyday was Christmas, you were here with me/That would be all Christmas time for me”? Does the beloved make non-Christmas days into Christmas? Is the lover’s love only true on Christmas? Is Christmas Spirit Fail reading too much into this?



Put out the lights. On the tree.

December 8, 2012

Christmas Spirit Fail recently attended our very first Sufjan Stevens concert, his Christmas singalong currently ongoing and dubbed the Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant on Ice. It was certainly a spirited experience. Fans queued up for hours ahead of schedule on a cold mid-Atlantic evening, just to be up by the stage. Most people were dressed to the nines in their hipster duds, skinny jeans and Christmas cardigans and leggings worn as pants.

We enjoyed the singalong–we think only one song of the many on Sufjan’s Wheel of Christmas that was a true Christmas Spirit Fail. We even found his original songs to be somewhere between thoughtful and odd, although the following certainly didn’t make us want to pay homage to the king:

Can you handel the ’80s?

November 26, 2010

A merry Advent for a new year, Christmas Spirit Failers! Your favorite misanthropes had thought about hanging up their knit cap after last year, but let’s face it — awful Christmas music just goes on and on and on and on. And we haven’t even gotten to “The Christmas Shoes” yet.

But save that for another time. Here, we have what appears to be three-fourths of a Goth-ABBA tribute band strutting across a faux-marble stage while belting out a synco-pop version of “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted,” from Handel’s Messiah.

The band was called First Call, and this video dates to 1989[?], a contemporary Christian version of Messiah that features a whole array of mediocre singers, ear-rending accompaniment, and 80s hair.

Indeed, every great oratorio shall be made low.

Do they know how awful they sound at all?

December 12, 2009

File this obnoxious little ditty under “Not Getting It, Department of.”

Leave aside the execrable pop/rock tune. Leave aside Bob Geldof’s ghastly 80s hairstyle. And leave aside the fact that this song is all about moral posturing with other people’s resources.

Leave all this aside and merely consider the ludicrous lyrics that alone make this a Christmas Spirit Fail.

  • And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy / Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime.” This is just BS on the level of “We Are the World.” It means nothing.
  • “Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears / And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom.” Well, the Congo River has the second-heaviest flow of any river in the world. And the Nile is the world’s longest. Dammit, Africa is overflowing with natural resources. It’s not like the whole continent is some kind of wasteland. If China can extract Africa’s resources, why not Africa? Moreover, this song was written to raise support for famine relief. Amartya Sen showed, however, that famine is more of a political problem than a resource problem. “Famines are easy to prevent if there is a serious effort to do so, and a democratic government, facing elections and criticisms from opposition parties and independent newspapers, cannot help but make such an effort. Not surprisingly, while India continued to have famines under British rule right up to independence. . . . They disappeared suddenly with the establishment of a multiparty democracy and a free press.” It’s no coincidence that a mostly undemocratic continent conforms to Sen’s sad logic.
  • “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime.” O RLY? (Actually, there will be.)
  • “(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows / No rain nor rivers flow.” That “oooh” is some good poetry there, man. But seriously, see comment above.
  • “Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” No comment necessary, but seriously, that’s all there is to this song. The single may have been used to raise money for anti-hunger efforts, but the words themselves leave you in a place of smug depression at the sad state of the world, poor them.

This ghastly ballad ends with a “(Here’s to you) raise a glass for everyone / (Here’s to them) underneath that burning sun,” signifying nothing done other than sanctimonious moral preening. Merry Christmas, yeah right.

P.S. What would it take to get a supergroup of pop/rock stars to record an anti-foreign-aid single based on Dambisa Moyo’s book?

Not so Swift

December 11, 2009

She’s not one of the Disnettes, but Taylor Swift is firmly holding down the country corner of the teen queen sector, with original tripe like this:

Christmas must be something more, indeed. It’s about a God, transcendent beyond all knowing, who took on tainted flesh and conquered the rebellion (nay, insurgency) that grows in human hearts. Incarnation! As Swift sings, something “wholly not superficial.”

To which the only response is to sing a contrived, sappy, pop country song that could have come off the shelf at the Nashville Creativity Five and Dime. “Here’s to the birthday boy who saved our liiives”? Is that the best way to project “something more”?

I Have a Hunch that We Should Rename It Cacophony of the Bells

December 10, 2009

I love “Carol of the Bells.” It was always one of the Christmas carols I would play when I was still taking piano lessons. I love the way it crescendos. However, I ran across this monstrosity and felt compelled to make it a Christmas Spirit Failure even though it’s usually a Christmas Spirit Winner. There are so many things wrong with this that I’m not sure where to begin.

First, claymation is scary. (See prior post.) Second, why does this even exist and what Christmas special is it a part of? Third, why do the bells have faces? Why are they wearing bow ties? And why are they hitting themselves? Fourth, Quasimodo? Really? The narrator thinks he’s being so clever by saying that he has a “hunch” that the performance will be good. I just don’t get it. The whole premise of this is stupid. To cap it all off the “hosts” of this Christmas special appear to be dinosaurs with bad senses of humor. For a nicer rendition of this song click here.

Jingle all the spay

December 5, 2009

A very meowy Christmas to you, too! You know how most cats couldn’t care less about your feelings, cares, or desires? Well, clearly these cats are expressing great disdain for anyone who happens upon their noxious purring.

What’s more astonishing is that people actually pay good meowny for this purrfectly abysmal clamor.

The Advent of something wonderful

November 30, 2009

Welcome back from Thanksgiving, everyone! On Friday, Christmas shopping picked up in earnest, and on Sunday, the Christian year began with the season of Advent. The latter observance is a beautiful occasion in the parish of this blog’s authors, for we dust off timeless Advent classics. Not Christmas carols, mind you–those are reserved for our special Lessons and Carols service and otherwise for the season of Christmas, which begins December 25. No, I’m talking about Advent hymns: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”

(May we also put in a good word for Catherine Winkworth’s beautiful translation of Johann Olearius’s hymn based on Isaiah 40, “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People“?)

Of course, this blog is nothing if not relentlessly misanthropic, so we cannot wax on about the beauty of Advent hymnody. However, it was hard to find a Christmas Spirit Fail that is actually about Advent. But fear not: your relentless team of bloggers has unearthed “21st Advent Hymn,” by a serendipitously named Dutch band “This Beautiful Mess.” (The last word of the name is the serendipitous part.) You can find it here. I think it’s fair to say this will not become part of the Advent canon.

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:

Dave Barry, honorary Christmas Spirit Failer

November 23, 2009

We recently dug up this nugget of a column from Dave Barry, back in 2002:

Let’s all get into the Holiday Spirit, as expressed by the festive song heard so very often on the radio at this time of year:

“Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock!

“Jingle bell …”


That was the festive sound of the radio being struck with a hammer by reader Sarah Frates, who writes to say she is sick of “Jingle Bell Rock.” She also states that her husband, Ralph, isn’t a big fan of “The Little Drummer Boy.”

I am with Ralph on that. Oh, sure, “The Little Drummer Boy” is a beautiful song, for maybe the first 35 minutes. But eventually it gets on your nerves, those voices shrieking, “Rum-pa-pa-pum!”

For openers, drums don’t go “Rum-pa-pa-pum.” Drums go “Rat-a-tat- tat.” Also I have issues with the line from “The Little Drummer Boy” that goes, “The ox and lamb kept time.”

Really? How? Did they clack their hooves together, castanet-style? Are we supposed to believe that two barnyard animals with legume-level IQs started doing the macarena?

Read the whole thing. Includes an interesting excursus into popular music for Jewish winter holidays.