I Have A Hard Time Liking Popular Christmas Music

I realize that writing something with the above title might cast me as a Grinch. But that is not the case.

I like the holidays — decorating, lights, giving and receiving, winter meals and wintry beers.

But I have a hard time getting excited about very much holiday music. There are modern Christmas albums out there from bands and singers that I’m cool with, like She & Him or Michael Buble, but these, rather than being celebrated and sung along to, are often delegated to merrily existing in the background.

For the record, I’m not the kind of Christmas person who puts up a manger. My parents are from two different religions (so when you say “Happy Holidays” to us it’s totally correct). But all these holidays present nicely as a beacon of warmth and light in the middle of yet another Chicago winter. A reason for love, smiling and thinking of others.

Part of the problem with holiday music is that, as a non-church-goer, I have a bit of a hard time suddenly singing out loud about the baby Jesus. He was a cool guy, but, does he really need me yelling about it? When it comes to that, I prefer silent observation and the occasional question. Like monks to the Buddha.

Something else ruining my holiday rocking might be the vast conspiracy of Baby Boomers to re-create childhood Christmases by controlling all the music (“The ’50s: scoring your holidays since the ’50s”). Where are all the beloved Nirvana carols of my era? Why isn’t Ben Folds’ “Bizarre Christmas Incident” on the radio (starting in mid-October) yet?

My lack of excitement seems to have two sources…

1). Nobody ever plays the songs that I actually like.

My favorites of the popular Christmas songs come in two categories: those sung by dudes with crazy deep voices and anything from the Muppets (with a special place for their 12 Days of Christmas).

But radio stations quite often shun anything too creative. The Grinch? There aren’t many songs that delve past the holy trifecta of sleighs, snow and Santa.

2). Christmas music doesn’t signal the holidays anymore.

Every year we all chuckle and say “Gosh, they start playing Christmas/Hanukkah music earlier every year.”

This has lead to the seriously troublesome fact that Christmas music no longer means that Christmas is actually here (or even near). It barely means it’s not summer anymore. We’ve taken something special and stretched it until it’s like saying “Happy New Year” in March.

This probably isn’t going to change. I could, as a last resort, just stop listening. But I don’t want to.

I need something new. It’s out there. Suggestions are welcome.

Suggested for others with this problem: Bela Fleck‘s Jingle All The Way album. Just a personal fave.

And for your enjoyment, below is the coolest Christmas song I’ve found in the past few years. From the band Eels, “Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” (Happy Holidays!)…


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  • Christmas music remade or invented by modern artists doe not cut it.

    I suggest Handel's Messiah or "I Saw Mommy Kissing (Doing) Santa Clause Last Night". A study in contrasts.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Ahhh, yes. Handel. See, i dig classical music, but don't know enough about it to figure out much of what's good beyond Beethoven, the Nutcracker or The Planets. Handel would be famous for the "hallelujah chorus" of course.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76RrdwElnTU

    Good stuff. But as far as that other song, I'd have a hard time singing about, essentially, watching my parents make out. :-O

  • Special shout out to The Vandal's Oi to the World!, the best punk Christmas album ever made. My favorite song is "Christmas Time for My Penis."

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    It actually exists! And there's even more than one song about his penis. LOL. Thanks dude. That was pretty awesome. Looks like a fun record... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSkOMU_4suQ

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