Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Songs that Make Me Happy & Crabby

There are two types of people in this world: people who hate Neil Diamond and people who love him. I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the latter category; however, even I will admit that Neil’s version of "Oh Holy Night" is an unholy travesty.

I happened upon this version while listening to the radio in the car on the way back from a rather mobbed Target store. Does anyone else still listen to the radio? I’m an avid fan, at least in the car. I haven’t yet quite glommed onto the whole MP3 player thing. I only listen to mine at the gym (on the rare occasion I go the gym and the stupid thing is actually charged.)

I like the radio because it’s a journey into the unknown. What will they play next? Will it be some relic of my youth? A song I’ve never heard before? Or some crap by Kings of Leon again? 90% of the time it’s the third, but I am eternally optimistic. (They played Cake a couple of months ago: I like a girl in a short skirt and a looong jacket! I was happy for like a week.)

Every year, I devise a mental list of my very favorite Christmas carols and songs. Unfortunately, one can have a favorite Christmas carol, say "O Holy Night," and have it butchered by the likes of Neil Diamond or Jessica Simpson.

But here are this year’s personal top five faves anyway:

5. "I Wonder As I Wander": Sort of a haunting melody. My favorite verse: If Jesus had wanted for any small thing/A star in the sky or a bird on the wing/ Or all of God's Angels in heaven to sing/ He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King! (I’ve been enjoying Harry Connick’s version this year.)

4. "O Holy Night": A song you can imagine the angels singing in the skies. Angels who sound nothing like Neil Diamond.

3. "What Child is This": Gorgeous lyrics put to the melody of Greensleeves. What’s not to like?

2. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing": Because it’s just a great hymn. Because they sing it at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Because there’s an old sheet music ornament with its lyrics on it on my mother's Christmas tree. Just because.

1. "Silent Night": This is the first year my son can sing the first verse all the way through. And that’s the main reason it’s my very favorite carol this year.

Okay. Let’s discuss worst Christmas songs now, as there are some songs that surely would have made baby Jesus cry.

5. "The Little Drummer Boy": I just don’t like this song. It’s always struck me as annoying and ridiculous. “Me and my drum!” Blah.

4. "Wonderful Christmas Time": Paul McCartney’s famous Christmas song is overplayed on the radio. It is so awful in so many ways. The lyrics make you dumber for having listened to them. The synthesized music and horrific tune grates on my nerves.

3. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town": This song is creepy. It makes Santa sound like a weird stalker. He sees you when you’re sleeping?

2. "The Christmas Shoes": They made this song into a Hallmark film. That should tell you something right there. I just don’t buy this kid’s story. His mother is dying and he wants to buy her shoes? She probably can’t even walk.

1. "The Chipmunk Song": I don’t really think I have to explain why.

What’s your favorite/ least favorite Christmas song and why?


Toaster said...

OMG, that Christmas Shoes song is totally creepy--I definitely have to turn the dial if it comes on! (Yes, I DO listen to the radio--I'm in the car 1 1/2 hours per day, 5 days a week!) I don't mind the Paul McCartney song that much, although I like John Lennon's Christmas song a lot better. Totally agree with you about "What Child Is This"; that's always been a favorite of mine. But you left out my two most favorite Christmas songs, "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses and "Snoopy's Christmas." (The latter brings a tear to my eye every time--is that weird?)

Claudia Jabieski said...

Neil Diamand's O Holy Night is an unholy travesty? That is sooooo funny. Oh my Gosh, I laughed til I alost peed. I have to say the "Feliz Navidad" that they are ALWAYS playing on the radio is my absolute most hated Christmas carol. Oh great, now it's in my head.

Anonymous said...

Toaster, you are breaking my heart. I was about to rip Happy Xmas War is Over as one of the worst songs played at Christmastime. Popular music can be cynical and preachy for 11 months out of the year, but lay off at Christmastime.

One of my all time favorite Christmas songs is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Wadsworth wrote it during the midst of the Civil War, after losing his wife to a fire, and having heard that his son had been wounded in battle.

Here are the last two verses:

"And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!'"

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'"

Put that in your pipes and smoke it, cynical hippies!

Holly said...

Glad others listen to the radio, too. I really like the John Lennon song. It's beautiful, even if cynical. "Snoopy's Christmas" IS kind of emotional.

I agree, Feliz Navidad is awful. So is Santa Baby, come to think of it.

Emsworth said...

"Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" is surely the very worst Christmas song. Surprising that Holly didn't have it on her list.

Julie said...

I agree with the ones you mentioned, and I love the Barenaked LAdies version of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen'.. and could easily punch Mariah Carey in the face every time I hear "All I want for Christmas is You" (-:

Toaster said...

Ugh, Feliz Navidad--does that even have any other words?

"Anonymous," I know that I'm no bible expert, but didn't JESUS espouse peace???

Heidi said...

My children are into 'I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas' this year. It is funny and catchy, but cheesy all rolled into one! I happen to be a closet Neil Diamond fan and like his version of 'Hark the Harold'. I also like 'Grown Up Christmas List' by Amy Grant. I have XM Radio in my Traverse so we listened to their holiday station while driving about.

EcoMeg said...

I am a Neil Diamond fan. I totally agree about how much Little Drummer Boy sucks. My favorite xmas song is actually George Michael's Last Christmas. It came out when I was in college and was playing in the car one night when a guy I had a huge crush on gave me a beautiful xmas gift. :)

By the way, I noticed that my link on your blog roll isn't working - the URL for the feed is: -- thank you so much for including me!