Call me crazy but for some reason I like to listen to Christmas music during the Christmas Season. Despite the Pressures of the retail industry, I do not believe the season starts on the fifth of July. Ok, so I didn’t actually see any Christmas sections in the stores until the end of August this year. Still, to me the Christmas Season starts with Thanksgiving and ends on Twelfth Night.
During that time, I like the festive music of Christmas Carols. I’m not a particular fan of the classics. I more prefer the renditions by modern pop and rock artists. I’m always a fan when an established band does a cover of someone else’s music, mostly to see how different they can make it while still being true to the original song. With Christmas music this should be easy.
However, when covering a Christmas carol, or writing a new Christmas song, it should not be a dirge. I heard a rendition of Jingle Bells that was so low and slow that the only person who could have pulled off that pace is Christopher Walken and it wasn’t Christopher Walken singing, so it pretty much just sucked.
I’m sure there are people out there who can appreciate a singer’s ability to maintain tonal quality in a slow, lingering song. These people are few and far between and not the majority of people tuning into Christmas radio. While I’d allow for an occasional slow Christmas song to sate the few and far between fan of such, it seems that almost half of the modern renditions of Christmas songs are slow, and I mean dirge slow. I’ve heard more cheerful music watching caskets get lowered into the ground.
A Christmas song should be festive. If I was the kind of person to sing along to music while I drive, I’d want to be able to smile while I sang along to Christmas music. I don’t sing, and you should all thank me for that. I really don’t want to hear classic Christmas songs sung like a 78-record played at 33. Dear modern musical artist, if the only way you can think of to make a classic carol “yours” is to slow it down to a snail’s pace, you’re not as creative as you think.
Way back when, Prince released a song titled ‘Another Lonely Christmas’ and that was not the happiest of songs. It’s a particularly sad song actually. This is the only sad song about Christmas I ever want to hear. It’s one thing to sing about a friend/lover who died on Christmas; it’s a completely different thing to sing about being heartbroken because the object of your affections isn’t noticing you on Christmas.
I don’t want to hear singers whine about being lonely on Christmas because they love someone who doesn’t love them back. That’s not a Christmas song. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” has been covered by everyone and their kid sister. It’s been around long enough to be a classic, and I’ll tolerate anyone U2 or older singing it, but it’s really only okay because it’s got a good fast beat. Just because this song almost works doesn’t mean that every new singer/songwriter can also manage to pull off the broken heart Christmas Song.
Way too many songs these days are from the point of view of the Stalker. I guess it’s always been that way, though. There have been boys and girls singing about unrequited love sing people started singing. Since the Police “Every Breath You Take”, and that idol kid had “Invisible”, stalker songs seem to be every other song by a male artist these days and half of them are whining more than singing. Other than reminding me I need to be sure to teach my kids how to treat the objects of their affection and to know when to stop fawning after someone, these songs do nothing for me. Combine said motif with Christmas and it only becomes the worst of both worlds.
Here’s my public service announcement: If your unrequited crush on someone is so intense you are driven to write a song about it, seek professional help. If your unrequited crush on someone is so intense you are driven to write a Christmas song about it, just step up to the nearest Mental Health Respite Care facility and sign up for a nice long stay.
And for those “artists” who feel the need to slow the music down, the only way I’m willingly listening to your music is by playing back at double speed and pretending I’m listening to a cheap copy of the Chipmunks Christmas Album. (A classic in and of itself, but I’m sure everyone knows that already. No one has ever made a better rendition of “All I want for Christmas (Is my Two Front Teeth)”)
Christmas music should always be celebratory and have a festive sound. Period. Anything with a slower tempo than Bing Crosby’s rendition of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is utterly unacceptable. It’s particularly reprehensible to take an iconic festive song like Jingle Bells and slow it down to a droning moan. Remember, this is a season of joy. Don’t make me listen to music that will try it’s damndest to make me forget that.