Christmas is upon the world. Sadly, for many, it means numbing consumerism, treacly wholesomeness, and a repetitious cycle of tin can Christmas music. What follows is a withering assessment of all the contemporary Christmas singles you profess to hate (but secretly love)—a no- holds-barred guide to the good, the bad, and the horrendous
BEST TO OKAY
Thank God It’s Christmas
Armed with a golden set of pipes and the world’s most dangerous mustache next only to Salvador Dali, Freddie Mercury puts a fresh spin on the Christmas single by unleashing a tender-obnoxious tribute to everyone’s favorite time of year. It’s got passion, pain, yearning, rock angst, machismo, and childish delight in the grand tradition of Queen. It’s also terribly memorable.
Wizard in Winter
By Trans-Siberian Orchestra
A blistering electric guitar assault from one of the world’s best super-groups, Wizard In Winter was originally an instrumental track from Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s fourth album The Lost Christmas Eve. Blessed with the collective harmony of superb players like Al Pitrelli, Chris Caffery, and Alex Skolnick, plus a full blown string section, Wizard In Winter is but a small part of the grander Christmas-themed rock operas Trans-Siberian Orchetra is famous for. Loud, brash, and excessive, Wizard In Winter is an exercise in holiday majesty.
All I Want For Christmas Is You
By Mariah Carey
A remarkable exercise in sultry passion during Mimi’s early-90s prime, this single endures for the simple fact that it’s innately romantic. All I Want... proves a tender and irresistible tale about lovelorn urges, a sentiment, which contrasts with the usual Christmas bustle where the common citizenry is compelled to spend their hard- earned cash. The power of its unabashed yearning elevates All I Want... above the usual Christmas single tripe.
Christmas Is All Around
By Billy Mack (Bill Nighy)
“I feel it in my fingers/I feel it in my toes” so begins a so-bad-it’s-good holiday rendition of The Troggs’ Love Is All Around. This sexified Christmas single was embedded in the British rom-com Love, Actually but proved viable enough to generate a music video. In it, Bill Nighy’s character Billy Mack resorts to pelvic thrusts and fits of air guitar to enliven a thing that should not be. Fun and worth a few laughs, it withstands the test of time for its joyous vulgar bent. The chorus sucks too.
For reasons beyond comprehension, Last Christmas has reigned as an unofficial Christmas anthem for almost three decades running. What makes it unforgettable is the heartfelt reminiscing of two gay lovers smoldering beneath the bad production—a fact that’s lost on most people these days. The original video was hilarious, featuring George Michael and his estranged collaborator Andrew Ridgeley in various snow-bound shenanigans. Bittersweet and kitschy, Last Christmas endures as the soundtrack to mankind’s last minute Christmas shopping.
BAD TO WORST
Boom-tarat-tarat (Christmas Mix)
By Willie Revillame
As if the original weren’t enough, Willie Revillame unleashes this foulness upon the Earth. Like everything Willie touches, it’s a trite sing-along jingle pandering to the genuine sense of festivity that makes any Filipino Christmas so memorable. It’s dumb and childish, silly and absurd, a bad waking dream for those who prefer raucous good cheer at Christmastime instead of regurgitated pop drivel. The worst part is the sickening awareness that Boom-tarat-tarat is but a mere cog in the vast Revillame money-making machine.
By Mariah Carey
Not to knock the greatest diva alive, but when Oh Santa came out, it bore all the hallmarks of pop insipidness. Rather than a redux of her glorious All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah succumbs to the dark side and offers pagan prayers to Santa so she can get her man back. As if this kind of vindictiveness weren’t enough, one of the verses goes: “I saw them shopping last week/his girl looking so bleak.” It couldn’t have been worse if she mentioned signing a contract with blood for the love of her estranged boyfriend. Anyway, it’s common knowledge that Santa is an anagram for Satan. Also, the kids’ chorus? Real creepy.
8 Days of Christmas
By Destiny’s Child
When asked to justify the depravity of this odious moneygrubbing screed, a fellow music lover simply remarked “Wala, ang panget eh.” [It’s just ugly.] A Pop & B take on the most vulgar consumerist jingle to ever invade people’s hearing during the holidays, 8 Days Of Christmas is saved by the fact that Destiny’s Child comprised three really hot chicks. Other than that, this marks a new low in the annals of Christmas music.
By Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy
As successive hit singles marked Lady Gaga’s descent lower and lower into the pits of the bizarre, a transformation that culminated in the timeless pop monstrosity Bad Romance, a Mephistophelean collaboration brought forth this bland effort. Christmas Tree marks the absolute rock bottom—forgettable and dry, an ugly scrawl best ignored. In it, Gaga goes “Rapupumpum-rapapumpum” as a synthetic dance beat tries to inject life into the spaced-out track. What a lot of people miss when listening to Gaga is the emotional wasteland her songs convey amid their shiny veneer. With Christmas Tree, she lets the world feel how bleak the cold winter is.
A forgotten track that’s better off left in the dustbin of recorded music, Santa Baby features the divine Madonna in bad form as she mimics an Eartha Kitt classic. Stylistically, she sounds caught somewhere between her Dick Tracy camp and the Lolita- esque appeal of her early material. The song itself recalls the sensuous, big band party scene of the 1950s. While it captures the teasing theatricality of its theme, the song itself ranks pretty low when other renditions are considered. At the end of the day, its greatest crime is being cute and nothing else.
print ed: 12/11