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December 17, 2009

Five Christmas Songs I HATE

Holiday Music

As I've mentioned, I am generally a big fan of holiday music. But there are a few songs I completely loathe and despise. Let me tell you about them.

5. "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
This one is a classic, and I will readily admit that I love the music. I mean, Frank Loesser! Ella Fitzgerald did it all the way back in 1949! But have you listened to the lyrics? Let's just say that after hearing this ALL THE TIME while working at Borders, I started calling it "the date rape song."

4. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"
I think there are two types of people: those who find that song title amusing, and those who find it completely traumatic and uncomfortable and want to run screaming. I am in the latter camp. Obviously. I don't think I've ever even listened to this whole song, because the entire concept just freaks me out so much. I just read through the lyrics - just for you - and . . . yeah. I do not understand why this is funny. At all.

3. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
For this song to work, at least one of the following must be true:
1. Santa is not real.
2. Santa is an adulterer.
CLEARLY neither of those can be true. Therefore, this song will not be tolerated.

2. "The Christmas Shoes"
So a few weeks ago, my boss e-mailed me saying "I found this great new version of The Christmas Shoes. It's much better than the original. Listen to it." So I said "Okay!" and went off to listen. It took me about thirty seconds to remember that my issue with the original had nothing to do with the music - it's the lyrics. It's so theologically and narratively questionable that I'm not even sure where to start, but here are a few of my issues:
1. Why does this kid know his mother's shoe size?
2. Why shoes? That seems bizarre. Why not a pretty dress or scarf or necklace or something? Shoes? Really?
3. Why is this child wandering around alone, all dirty? Even if the father is at the hospital with the mother, say, surely he thought to have someone supervise his child.
4. Okay, so one of the big supposedly heartwarming themes is that the mother needs the shoes to look pretty if she "meets Jesus tonight." One option here is that the songwriters thought that Jesus would actually care what someone is wearing. This is clearly preposterous, although supposedly they wrote the song in four minutes, so who knows. I guess the other option is that we're supposed to think it's cute that the kid thinks it would matter, but - if he's old enough to know his mother's shoe size, and clearly has some sort of religious background - he's talking about his mother "meeting Jesus," after all - isn't he old enough to be familiar with one of the most elementary tenets of Christianity: that clothes and outward appearances don't matter?
I mean, I get that the POINT is supposed to be that the boy is just thinking about his mother, and that prompts the adult narrator to think about the meaning of Christmas and to help the kid out. But the whole "mother dying" thing just complicates matters. I think the piece would have been stronger if the child was just recognizing all the sacrifices his mother had made and wanting to get her something nice, without the whole illness thing. And also! The dying mother angle - which supposedly is part of what reminds the narrator "what Christmas is all about" - seems like much more of a Resurrection thing than an Incarnation thing. The Resurrection is important, of course, but that's not what Christmas is all about, exactly. (I am similarly baffled by my neighbors who have a large cross on their roof made out of Christmas lights.) I am all for keeping my Solemnities separate.

1. "Dominick the Donkey"
Is this a national phenomenon, or is it a Boston thing? In any case, this has been on the radio constantly the past few Christmases. Yesterday was the first time I ever listened to the whole thing (in preparation for this post), because I usually just slam the radio off as quickly as possible when it comes on. Apparently it has been around since 1960 and is "traditionally popular with Italian families," but, um, not my Italian family. (Is there anything in Italian Christmas tradition about this donkey that precedes this song? I couldn't find anything, but I didn't have time to do tons of research. It certainly doesn't look like La Befana, the traditional Italian gift-bringer, has a donkey.) I could make a case for how this is offensive to Italians or Democrats or, heck, Dominican friars or something, but honestly, my main problem with this song is just that it's SO FREAKING ANNOYING.

Posted by Kat at December 17, 2009 06:16 AM

I had never listened to that Baby It's Cold Outside song. I ... oh my gosh. I'm not a big fan of the whole midcentury-Rat-Pack Christmas song phenomenon (I don't even like that Chestnuts On An Open Fire one), but that absolutely takes the cake.

(I hate Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer too. Yet I love Christmas at Ground Zero. Go figure.)

Posted by: Rachel at December 17, 2009 01:03 PM

Dominick is definitely a New England thing, but I heard it more on Massachusetts stations than I did on Connecticut ones. It never gets played down here, but, then, they don't seem to have Italians.

Isn't there a Claymation donkey movie? I feel like it's the first movie I remember seeing in the movie theater, but that doesn't really make sense, since I don't think Claymation did feature movies... Maybe it was a special Christmas thing? (IMDB tells me it's Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, that it didn't come out until 1977, and that it aired on tv. So, I guess it's post Dominick...)

Posted by: sprite at December 17, 2009 03:29 PM
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