Monday, December 4, 2006


Christmas Music on Secular Radio Edition

On my way to playing a funeral this morning, I was listening to WZLX-FM (100.7 in Boston). The morning jocks, Carlson and MacKenzie, had a list of the "Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs". This inspired me to come up with some lists of my own on said topic. Note that this refers to those Christmas (or so-called "Holiday") songs (read: muzak, in most cases) played on secular media, whether it be conventional radio, satellite radio, "Music Choice" (Cox carries this in its digital cable package in Rhode Island), etc.

First, I'll run through the stuff I give my "thumbs up" to:
Almost anything of the kiddie variety by Burl Ives or Gene Autry.
Anything by the Chipmunks
Anything by the Beach Boys (especially their way-cool rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and The Man with All the Toys)
Christmas Shoes (ok, I'll admit, that's the "soft side" of me; wife loves this song)
The Twelve Days of Christmas, as rendered by the Muppets (with Miss Piggy's "five gooooooooooold riiiiiiiiiiiiiiings, ba-da-ba-ba" cliche)
The Twelve Pains of Christmas (a classic)
The Redneck Twelve Days, as rendered by Jeff Foxworthy
Another Foxworthy gem, "Here's your sign, here's your sign, here's your stupid sign"
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Dominic the Donkey (cute, if anything, but definitely not bad or tacky, IMO)
The Santa Claus story that Cheech tells Chong (On Donner! On Blitzen! On Juvy! On Tabo!)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as rendered by Ringo Starr (Ringo is true to his own style here)
Ding! Fries are Done!
Any of the parodies by Larry the Cable Guy
Step into Christmas, by Elton John (back when he could rock out, a la "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Rock of the Westies" periods)
and finally - Sting does a way-cool rendition of "The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came"
More may get added here as they arise. :)

Now, the ultimate BMP "thumbs down" list:
Santa Baby (the most self-centered song I've ever heard this time of the year)
Feliz Navidad, especially as rendered by Celine Dion (I don't mind the Jose Feliciano original so much)
Jingabelljingabelljinglealltheway, Barbra Streisand's infamous run-on sentence
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, rendered by anyone
Happy Christmas/War is Over, by John and Yoko (I like a good share of Lennon, but this is by far his absolute worst. The fact that you can hear Yoko trying to sing makes it even worse.)
Silent Night, as rendered by Stevie Nicks (the voice is bad enough, but she screws up the lyric too)
pretty much anything by Natalie Cole, especially her depressing rendition of The Holly and the Ivy (I still think the only reason she's so dang overplayed is because of her father, with all due respect to Nat King Cole)
The Twelve Days of Christmas, as rendered by the Ray Conniff Singers (Eleven pipers piping daily... yuk!)
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth (I'm not sure who does this one - sounds like the Righteous Brothers, but I could be wrong)
God Rest You Merry/We 3 Kings, as rendered by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan (they really killed We 3 Kings)
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as rendered by Billy Gilman (while he was still a castrati)
"Rudy" the Red-Nosed Reindeer (sounds like one of those Dean Martin type crooners, but it's just horrible)
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, as rendered by anyone, especially John Mellencamp
Silver Bells, by anyone (worst is by Gloria Estefan)
Mary's Boy Child
Mary Did You Know

What I listen to on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (the "thumbs and toes up fifty times over" list):
I listen to Classical Radio Boston WCRB-FM, now moved to 99.5 on the dial just three days ago. Some of the best arrangements of the true carols take place. Included is the Boston Pops classic medley, "A Christmas Festival", many of the great carols from the Oxford volumes with choirs, organ, and even brass. There is "O Little Town" sung to Forest Green with a gorgeous descant, the Willcocks arrangements of "Adeste Fideles" and "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing", and one of my favorites, "In the Bleak Midwinter" by Harold Darke (which, btw, is being added to our choir's repertoire this year - it's coming along nicely). Sussex Carol is quite nice too! On a lighter note, the Boston Pops does a way-cool Sleigh Ride rendition.



PhiMuAlpha2681 said...


I'd check my sources on one of your thumbs up. The "here's your sign" bit was done by Bill Engvall, so I would doubt that Foxworthy used it to make a song. Of course, I could be wrong...

Brian Michael Page said...

But Foxworthy did do the spoken parts, such as
"Are those the three wise men?"
"Nope. ZZ Top doing a farm aid concert."


Gavin said...

A great CD to get that you can listen to over and over is Praetorius's Mass for Christmas Morning, performed by the Gabrielli Consort. It's a performance of the Lutheran Mass as it would have been celebrated in Praetorius's time. The hymns are sung excellently, plus I love German! If it were up to me, my Christmas Mass would sound just like that CD. Unfortunately, my Polish Catholic parish wouldn't like German or Lutheranism very much...

Kate said...

The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth duet was done by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. I believe it was the last thing Bing recorded before his death. I recommend The Twelve Days After Christmas, if you can find it, and I'm Gettin' Nuthin' for Christmas.