Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Weather Inside Is Frightful

Christmas is coming, and you know what that means: unpleasant stuff pelting down upon you whenever you venture out of the house. No, I'm not talking about snow. I love snow. I'm talking about Christmas songs.

Not all Christmas music is bad, of course. There are a few carols I quite like, such as "Come All Ye Faithful" and "I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In." Even in the category of popular music, there are some worthwhile offerings. Take "Two Thousand Miles" by The Pretenders, or the heart-warming "Mistress for Christmas" by AC/DC.

You just don't hear those songs, that's all. Oh, maybe now and then on the radio. But if you walk through a shopping mall, or go to a restaurant, what you are going to hear are songs that weren't even good the first time, like "Jingle Bell Rock" or "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." (By the way, does this song have the dumbest lyrics, or what? "He'll ask us, 'Are you married?'/ We'll say, 'No man'"--what are they, sixties hippies?) Even worse, you'll hear certain well-worn "favorites" played over and over and over again. There are Christmases when I think that if I have to hear Little Drummer Boy one more time, I'm going to disembowel myself just to stop the pain.

Overplaying of certain songs is one major cause of seasonal pain. Another is Singing... Too... Sloooooowly. Why do they do this? I wonder if there's a misconception that a song sung much more slowly than it was meant to be sung is soothing and relaxing, rather than irritating, as in fact it is.

Both male and female vocalists may be guilty of the pointlessly, annoyingly extended song. Another phenomenon is unique to the female vocalist: singing in a sweet little cutesy-poo voice, all full of whisperiness and sighs. These girls remind me of Jewel, only worse.

The irony is that the holiday of Christmas has more good songs than any other holiday I know. So why do merchants choose to play so much of the wretched stuff? Are they unable to tell the difference?

I suppose the best thing you can do at Christmas time is buy one or two excellent Christmas albums, hole yourself up in your house with your stereo, and don't come out again until boxing day. In the process you can save yourself a lot of money and fight another phenomenon that plays havoc with the holiday: rampant consumerism. Your local non-trampled Walmart employee will thank you.

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