BS Off-Topic: Best (and some worst) Christmas Songs, as per Boiled Sports
Let’s take a little break, if you will, from critical matters such as the state of Purdue’s basketball program and whether or not we’re “giving up” on the season. We don’t often make lists around here, but this week is special because it’s Christmas. That magical time of year when you eventually are just ready for it to all be over. Sure, maybe this is particularly true once you’re married and have kids (I, for one, remember really enjoying the holiday season when single – but then I prefer solitude to a house full of in-laws). But regardless of your situation, we all have opinions on Christmas songs – even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, in many cases.
So today we present to you a bit of a detour – it’s a very special “BS Off-Topic.” Our picks for Christmas Songs, both all-time faves as well as which ones just suck. Feel free to disagree. (Well, not with b-dowd – Purdue basketball has him cranky.)
Mike Henry (rrt1):
Here are my five:
No Doubt - Oi to the World (Vandals Cover)
Michael Bublé - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Because my wife wishes I could sing - and look - like that.
Because I support anything E produces
The Killers - Don't Shoot Me Santa
Because it's weird and inappropriate for Christmas
Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time
I actually hate this song with a passion. But I believe that the Universe is karmically balanced, which would mean that there must be something amazing out there to balance out this piece of crap. Which means, I should highlight the existence of thing song, if only to find it's karmic pair that must be AMAZING.
Ok, I interpreted this as "Christmas season songs" not "Christmas carols." If you disagree...sucks to suck.
- Any song done by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
- Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. Though it isn't directly about Christmas, this is whyit's the greatest single Christmas-season song of all time. And the Jeff Buckley version is enough to melt even my Grinch heart. Oh great, now I'm crying again.
- What Christmas Means To Me by Stevie Wonder. Stevie is amazing, and this song only invokes happiness from anyone who listens. Nobody has ever heard this song and said "ugh, I can't stand this overplayed Christmas tune", because nobody has ever overdosed on Stevie Wonder. AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN *BLAM* YOU FORGOT ABOUT THE HARMONICA SOLO. Stevie is the best.
- Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms. I'm an absolute sucker for rockabilly guitar, what can I say.
- The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole. Really makes me wish there was four feet of snow outside, as I sit by a roaring fireplace wearing fluffy slippers and a silk robe, alternating between sips of hot chocolate and a delicious peated single malt. This daydream obviously comes with a rocking chair, a massive St Bernard, and a classy pipe.
Shoutouts to the Jackson 5's version of Santa Claus is Coming To Town, and Frank Sinatra's entire Christmas Album. Young Mike could hit some glass-shattering notes, and Frank had some next-level swag. Respect.
And, for the opposite end of the scale:
- Any non-Trans Siberian Orchestra version of Carol of the Bells is an ax-murderer's theme and nobody can convince me otherwise.
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was a self-centered crybaby who didn't have his teammates' backs. He's that dude that passes up a wide-open teammate to take a contested long two point jumper. Basically what I'm trying to say is Rudolph is the (recently released) Detroit Pistons' Josh Smith.
- I live in Pittsburgh, so this abomination of a song rules the airwaves. It's called "Santa Claus is Goin Dahntahn," done entirely in a Pittsburgh accent...which was recently (and rightfully) voted the ugliest accent in the country. It's so far beyond the worst thing of all time. I'm feeling guilty just sharing this song to people who haven't heard it...but if I have to suffer through it, so do you.
As the old man of the group, I'm sure people are expecting me to list all those great Bing Crosby songs we used to listen to on the record player. Ha! We had one of them fancy cassette tape things, so there.
Let me put on my bifocals (joke: I wear glasses all the time; I have a 23" monitor four feet from me and can't read a thing on it without them) and see what my grandson wrote for me on my list.
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, Springsteen: I'm a big fan of his stuff up through about Tunnel of Love, and I've seen him a couple of times - always worth the money, even back in the day when it didn't cost three figures to see live music. This cover is solid, especially in person. One concert I saw was between Christmas and New Year's ... we roared when he started with "It's only three hundred (whatever it was) days until Christmas ...". Some of you kids probably don't know any of his older stuff, to which I say "Why do you hate New Jersey?"
Angels We Have Heard on High, Cate Sparks: ho ho! Bet you didn't see this coming. So I'm a big Rock Band
player, and one day, I'm browsing through the Rock Band Network songs (the ones artists could do themselves, instead of licensing Harmonix to produce for the game), and I see this. They do a little clip of the music when you select it (to get you to buy it), and I was hooked. No, I won't sing it for you. I save that voice for the BS Rock Band jams.
Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy, Bowie/Crosby: Back when MTV showed videos, they played this one. It was pretty cool, listening to Bing pretend he was just some nobody and Bowie act like he hadn't heard anything before the '70s ... and of course the duet is really good. Joking aside, we did listen to Crosby when I was growing up, so it was nice to have both that familiar voice with another voice that I knew.
The Chipmunk Song, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Oh yes, I went there. I like this partly because it annoys other people and partly because I heard it before I realized all the covers the Chipmunks had done, so it was more of a novelty then. Of course they have like 500 songs now. Kids these days. When I was your age, if we heard one Alvin and the Chipmunks song, we treasured it like a Stan Musial baseball card.
I know we're supposed to put five, but those are the four that stand out for me. There are a lot more that I remember from my younger days, but picking one of those is like remembering your favorite Indiana Classic game. (You know, that thing IU used to hold in Bloomington, where they'd invite cupcakes and crush them ... until they chose poorly, lost to ISU, I think, and promptly stopped holding the tournament.) Wait, that makes it sound like I should pick the one where IU loses. Fine.
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, Elmo and Patsy: I think this was our rebellion against the boring old Christmas stuff our grandparents would trot out every year. (It may also have bothered people we really wanted to bother. Is that a common theme here? Maybe.)
I avoid brick-and-mortar stores and don't listen to normal radio or anything, so I can't actually remember any Christmas songs that really suck. Also I have to get a couple more things on Amazon so they arrive before Christmas. Prime is a great thing for procrastinators.
I love Christmas for lots of reasons. Spending time with family, the reminder of hope in a sometimes dark world and watching my kids as they anticipate an even jollier, even fatter bearded man visiting the house late in the month all make it special.
But, I'm one of those people that refuses to listen to Christmas songs prior to Thanksgiving. This year, I saw Christmas decorations in late September at a store. THAT is ridiculous...and if Christmastime is really 1/4 of the year, it's kinda less special, no?
But the music gets me in the mood...and strikes different chords with me.
5. Jingle Bell Rock (Hall & Oates) I grew up loving Hall & Oates; this is nothing more than a bad 80s carry over...can't get rid of it
4. O Holy Night (Perry Como) Classic crooning Christmas carol
3. White Christmas (BING CROSBY!!) Velvety-smooth tones and a classic song is the kickoff to the season for me.
*If you've never seen the movie, you're probably a Communist...If you've seen the movie and don't like it, your heart is made of ice.
2. What Child is This? / This is our God (Amazing piece of music; builds and falls...and when performed right makes me weep.)
1. Welcome to Our World - Chris Rice (Just like number 2, it's a reminder that this season isn't at all about the garbage that's in commercials...but about hope for a Savior.)
My two least favorite Christmas songs are anything by Mariah Carey or someone oversinging a classic (take your pick). These bottom-of-the-barrell songs are those that make me turn off the Christmas song stations...and why does Ms. Carey still think she's the bombshell from the 90s? Time hasn't been kind to her...or her voice.
Lastly, Santa Baby sucks on every level. Rachel McAdams could be singing it while wearing one of my button down shirts in a personal concert and I'd interrupt and ask her to move on. This song makes baby Jesus cry.
Santa Claus by Alabama. Discovered this many years ago and had it on cassette. I remember as I was probably a young teen and transitioning away from where it's all about me on Xmas that this song really resonated with me for some reason. Also, I like country and there isn't anything more hokey than “grandma and grandpa looking young and full of life.” Especially since mine never did.
Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms. Youth, decorating trees at my parents house, nothing like songs from the early days of Rock and Roll. I felt instant kinship with the Swamy as he chose this one, too – but then I was dismayed that bdowd had the Hall & Oates version. Come on, man. 1957, forevah.
Last Christmas by Wham. We're in the tree of trust, right?
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, many great versions, including one by Cold Play which, in an interesting piece of trivia, is the only Cold Play song that doesn’t make reasonable people push q-tips too far into their ears.
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Whirling Dervishes. Always loved this hard-edged take on a funny song. Also, my wife calls me a Grinch, so it’s kind of my holiday theme song.
As for awful songs, agree with bdowd on Santa Baby, though I don’t necessarily agree regarding Ms. McAdams – she can sing anything she wants to me, even Cold Play. (Well, okay, maybe I shouldn’t get silly.)
In a similar bucket for me is I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (which I once saw strippers dance to at a bachelor party in December –yeesh, collision of too many images), as well as Hey Santa. Just stop flirting with the old man, for goodness sakes.
But for me, perhaps the worst Christmas song out there is the awfully-named, awfully-conceived, heavy-handed, hackneyed “song” that is “Christmas Shoes.” Songs can be sad without being so over-the-top intentionally morbid… Christmas Shoes’ sole goal is to make moms in minivans cry on their way to the mall. It’s stupid and has the literary value of a song written by an emo 8th-grader.
I had originally thought we’d have some overlap and thus could release a BS Top Five of Christmas songs, because I never thought there’d be this much variation. I imagine I don’t know about such variation because a number of years ago when Christmas songs began popping up on the radio in October I began to tune out, quite literally.
Thanks, boys, for opening my eyes (ears?) to some more variety. We welcome your feedback, of course, on our lists and naturally wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases and general holidays seasons.