“The operation of Grace”

December 4, 2013

That was what Evelyn Waugh described as the theme of Brideshead Revisited.

Oh, how far we have fallen when, at Christmastime, that phrase refers to Point of Grace:

The insipid lyrics and the popcorn audio track are matched only by the sub-VeggieTales animation featuring some poor girl with a unibrow to create a true Christmas Spirit Fail classic. [This text refers to a now-unavailable video version since removed. You’re welcome. –Ed.]

And why in the name of all that is good would anyone sing this “Love Came Down” song when Christina Rossetti’s vastly superior version is available?

More Christmas crap? Make it so.

December 4, 2013

For the fifth year in a row, the warmest Christmas greetings to you and yours from the team at Christmas Spirit Fail. Please join us as we boldly go on a trek to bring you the next generation of awful Christmas music.

(The charming Jean-Luc Picard mashup above obviously does not qualify.)

Why, Wynonna? Why?

December 11, 2012

The chorus on this failer really grabs your attention:

Yes, that’s right:

Let’s make a baby king
Let’s make him Lord of all
Let’s give him everything
Let’s make a baby king

There’s a mystery here. The rest of the song of the song is a conventional account of and analysis of Jesus’ birth and life (with the mistaken notion slipped in there that Jesus’ chief purpose was to be a moral exemplar). The chorus is actually designed to be the voice of angels heralding the coming of Christ.

Instead, it envisions Mary as a cast member on Teen Mom casually discussing the whole pregnancy idea with no-goodnik boyfriend Joseph. And that’s enough to qualify “Let’s Make a Baby King” as an all-time Christmas Spirit Fail contender.

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:

Where are you, Christmas spirit? Not here

December 6, 2012

From Polar Express to The Santa Clause 3, America’s worst Christmas movies are often paired with America’s worst Christmas pop standards! So it makes perfect sense that, paired with Jim Carrey’s execrable The Grinch would be a truly obnoxious song: “Where Are You Christmas?” by Faith Hill.

The one redeeming feature of this video is the grand joke the costume designer played on Faith Hill, ostensibly dressing her as a denizen of Whoville but really giving her crimped ’80s hair and a White Witch coat.

There is no lyrical depth at all. “Where is Christmas? Christmas is here–in your heart!” It’s fitting, really. How much Christmas spirit can you have when the Christmas spirit becomes the object of Christmas? Christmas becomes a self-referential holiday whose only purpose is to occur–in Faith Hill’s caterwauling, it has no significance at all.

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.

Somehow, these songs never die

December 19, 2011

Nothing says festive like terminal illness and eventual death!

I suppose it’s inevitable that tear-jerking trauma is commingled with Christmas cheer. Even Dickens interposed Tiny Tim into his Christmas carol.

There’s just something so very grubby, and manipulative, about efforts to sell songs by taking advantage of the emotionally vulnerable.

The reigning champion of this effort is “The Christmas Shoes,” which has been for three years the animating horror of your intrepid team here at Christmas Spirit Fail:

This song has spawned an execrable film and a novelization, not to mentioned being played every seven minutes on the radio from November 1 to December 25. It’s so awful that there is nothing we can say that would call attention to this abomination that it doesn’t do for itself.

But country-Christian crooner Matthew West has a strong contender to knock the “Shoes” off their pedestal, and that’s “One Last Christmas”:

It is the story of a toddler, Dax, diagnosed with leukemia, and how his family goes all out to give him “one last Christmas” before they lose him. (It has also been turned into an F-list movie.)

Now, CSF is fully sympathetic to the families whose Christmases come tinged with loss, grief, and sadness. (Indeed, CSF was itself treated for cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where Dax also received treatment, and feels a pang when reading Dax’s story.)

But songs like “The Christmas Shoes” and “One Last Christmas” don’t  memorialize the dead and comfort the survivors; they trivialize the loss and commercialize the lost. The Christmas Shoes lady and Dax both died, but these songs will play on forever–and that’s a triple tragedy.

“I am a poor singer too, pa rum pa pum pum”

December 13, 2011

As a song, “The Little Drummer Boy” (the “The Carol of the Drum”) is one of the most annoying additions to the Christmas canon. As a film, it decidedly tilts the Rankin/Bass holiday special verdict toward cloying.

But its greatest offense has been to provide “inspiration” for literally hundreds of cover artists. One of the worst we at Christmas Spirit Fail have ever heard is Justin Bieber’s:

For this abomination, we must give a tip of the homburg to the Divine Professor A, and turn it over to her:

Having found the lyric genuinely amusing, I listened to the song and found it immensely annoying. I think I’d managed thus far in life to avoid hearing the voice of Justin Bieber. It’s so irritating!… especially when accompanied by constant snare drumming, which is, apparently, regarded as essential, even when layering in rap, for anybody doing a new arrangement of that always awful song “Drummer Boy.”

Which reminds me, if you ever feel like giving me a gift, and you think all you’ve got to give is that drum number you’re threatening to perform, realize you are making a mistake. There’s also the gift of silence. I’d prefer that. I know baby Jesus reputedly appreciated the gift of drumming — according to that nasty song — but consider the possibility that Jesus was just being nice. I know, politeness is a quality alien to infants, but — come on! — it was Jesus! Put the damned drum away.

Althouse: an honorary Christmas Spirit Failer if ever there was. Welcome to our curmudgeonly fireside.

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…