December 12, 2013 in Washington Voices

Front Porch: Critiquing Christmas carols filled with peril

By The Spokesman-Review
 

First, let me be perfectly clear. I do not hate John Lennon. Just because I opined that “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is one of the worst Christmas songs ever, does not make me a Lennon-hater – or worse a Beatles-basher.

I also loathe “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” but no one has accused me of being a hippo-hater. Yet.

The brouhaha began when I posted my opinion about the worst Christmas songs via various social media sites. One Facebook friend wrote, “Nothing any member of The Beatles has ever done is the worst of anything. Ever. Period. The end.”

Many agreed, but one friend remarked that Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is pretty dreadful.

The situation worsened when I attempted to explain my disdain for “Happy Xmas.” I wrote, “Every time I hear the refrain ‘So this is Christmas and what have you done,’ I want to scream, WHAT HAVE I DONE!? I have baked, cleaned, shopped, wrapped, mailed, cooked, cleaned, baked and shopped like a madwoman. THAT’S WHAT I’VE DONE.”

To which a commenter at Huckleberries Online replied, “Um, I think John meant “What have you done FOR OUR EARTH AND MANKIND AS A WHOLE.”

I am pretty sure this commenter wasn’t trying to make me feel better.

But it wasn’t all bitter bickering in social media land. In fact, many posted Christmas songs far worse than the two I’d mentioned.

Notably, “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas),” a truly terrible twangy John Denver nightmare featuring the refrain, “Please Daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas, I don’t wanna see my Mama cry.”

Not exactly “Joy to the World,” is it?

Others mentioned least favorites included anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and “Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey.”

I could swear my ears began bleeding after listening to Dominick hee haw his way through the first verse.

Some folks’ choices surprised me. For instance, a couple of people referred to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as the holiday “date rape” song. While I love this duet, I concur that it definitely has a creepy element. Listen, if your date says she has to leave, it really doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, let her go.

But for sheer tragedy, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is pretty hard to beat. So many horrible issues raised for an innocent tot. Is Santa cheating on Mrs. Claus? Or worse yet is Mommy cheating on Daddy? If Mommy and Santa get married will I have to move to the North Pole?

Don’t even get me started on “Then I saw mommy tickle Santa Claus, underneath his beard so snowy white.”

Talk about inappropriate. Who knew Christmas tunes could be filled with such morally questionable messages?

Sometimes songs with even the most positive of messages are disliked. One blog commenter expressed disdain for the Band Aid classic “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The commenter wrote, “Answer: No, because they are starving African non-Christians, you moron.”

Even sentimental contemporary ballads aren’t universally liked. “The Christmas Shoes,” for instance. This sad song tells the tale of a little boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother. “I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight,” he explains.

Apparently, disliking this song is almost as unpopular as not enjoying “Happy Xmas.” A blog commenter wrote, “… saying that you aren’t moved to tears by ‘The Christmas Shoes’ is like saying you and the devil operate a dog fighting ring together.”

Lesson learned: Opining on Christmas music can be as combustible as decorating a dried out tree with lighted candles. The next time I ponder posting musical opinions; perhaps I should just leave it a “Silent Night.”

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.

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