Friday, December 7, 2012
Christmas Entertainment With More Plum and Less Sugar
Christmas brings out some of the absolutely worst stinking piles of kitschy pop culture cheese every year. All kinds of godawful purveyors of lame pop music, from Kenny G to Wham! have essayed the Christmas song. The Lifetime network, unwatchable on a normal basis, really goes for the treacly sentiment with their "Fa-La-La-La Lifetime" lineup of saccharine holiday movies. Despite this yearly tidal wave of dreck, I never fail to get into the Christmas spirit, mostly because it is the one thing that makes the onset of winter's cold and dark bearable. Over the years, I have also learned to cherish the Christmas-themed stuff I actually like due to its more critical take on the holiday season. Here are some examples.
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, "Daddy's Drinking Up Our Christmas"
The holidays have their dark side, and people often have a hard time living up to the ideals that the season puts before our eyes. This song reflects that truth better than just about any other.
The Youngsters, "Christmas in Jail"
Similarly, this vintage R&B number tells the tale of getting nailed for a DUI on Christmas. I'm sure it happens more often than we think.
Miles Davis, "Blue Xmas (To Whom it May Concern)"
Grinchitude never was more hip than this song, where one of the icons of jazz calls out the materialism and phony sentiment of Christmas over a finger-popping beat.
Edward Burch, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Ed's an old friend, and a great musician. Since I don't get to see him now that we've both moved out of Texas, I have to subsist on his YouTube performance of the original, depressing version of a holiday chestnut.
SCTV Christmas Special
During the early 1980s, SCTV made Saturday Night Live look staid and archaic. Instead of cheap gags and catchphrases, they did things like a piano duel between Liberace and Orson Welles having a meltdown ("you people are pests, no money is worth this!") Big fans of the show will appreciate the SCTV Christmas party, which brings together many of the show's characters.
Patton Oswalt's Riff on "The Christmas Shoes"
As I've mentioned already, the holiday season comes with truly wretched music attached. What could be worse than a cheesy holiday song? One performed by a Christian rock band, of course. Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite comedians, and his take down of New Song's "The Christmas Shoes" is one of the funniest things I've ever heard.