Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas music I can do without

Abu Tulip writes:

A few days into December and we've already done our main Christmas choir concerts (a marathon of rehearsals and performances last week, but tons of fun). I guess that makes this the time to think about some of the music.
The first thing I should say is that our experience here is different than most Americans. Most people are not Christians, and don't do Christmas shopping, so not every radio station and store feels the need to play Christmas music continually. That and a big Muslim holiday, Eid-al-Adha, falls just before Christmas this year. However, like I wrote before, there isn't any embarrassment about Christmas trees, "Merry Christmas" and the like. Even though a minority of shoppers at an store will be Christian, the big stores still have a nice display. They are willing to honor the holidays of each religion, that or they just understand marketing strategies. That being said, I feel like we have a good bit of control over the Christmas music which enters our ears, unlike many Americans.

So here's my personal list of Christmas or pseudo-Christmas music I can do without:

1. Jingle Bells--An old favorite, but what does it have to do with Christmas? And how many of you have actually ever ridden in a one-horse open sleigh? Why don't we write something about snowboarding or skating, something most people have actually done, and make it a "winter fun" (not Christmas) song? And now Oliver wants to sing it in Arabic, too.

2. Away in a Manger--The melody is kind of sappy, but what I can really never get over is the "little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes" line. Jesus was fully divine and fully human. We have a hard enough time with that idea without making him less human. Baby Jesus was like other babies--he screamed his head off every few hours.

3. Jingle Bell Rock--This one is just plain annoying. I guess since it has the word rock in it, they play it "for the kids" even though it surely goes back to the sixties.

4. Here Comes Santa Claus--"Let's give thanks to the Lord above for Santa Claus comes tonight." ???? What's with that? Thanks to Mr. Jeff for pointing out the idolatry of that line. That, and who's ever heard of Santa Claus Lane?

5. The First Noel--A pretty good carol, to listen to. It's just way too high to sing.

6. I saw three ships come sailing in -- Catchy, but you can't sail into Bethlehem. Enough said.

7. Almost anything done by a pop artist--Some of the arrangements of Christmas music they put out are just hideous. But how much do people even listen to them? You buy a Christmas CD of hot-pop-artist-of-the-moment, give it as a gift on Christmas day. They barely listen to it because they are tired of Christmas music by that time, it sits on the shelf for a year, and by that time the same artist (and the CD) is the brunt of jokes. Great gift! But at least the artist and the studio made their millions.

8. Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland--Nothing to do with Christmas. Sense a theme?

9. We Wisssssshhhhhh You a Merry Christmas--Now, unless the audience is talking and being disruptive during the concert, they shouldn't need to be shushed by the choir. Choir directors you know what I'm talking about.

10. Good Christian "Friends" Rejoice--Sorry, this just doesn't work. If you're annoyed that it's not gender-inclusive, don't include it in your repertoire, but don't butcher the song like this. I actually was in a choir which rehearsed "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlefriends," until the director realized how ridiculous it sounded and changed it to the original.

How about you? Any others to add? Disagreements?


a.k.a. Mr. Jeff said...

I was having a conversation a few days ago with a friend, when I started to complain about the near-constant Christmas music one is exposed to from Thanksgiving on through the big day. My biggest problem is that there are really only about twenty or so Christmas songs, and you just keep hearing different versions over and over ad nauseum. I like Feliz Navidad, but not when I hear two-dozen different singers give me their renditions over the course of a single day. And you're right, any "pop tart" Christmas songs should be ignored at all cost. Hmm... maybe that's the reason why the suicide rate spikes around the holidays.

Sharon M said...

Ugh. I don't like listening to the radio in the US during Christmas. It's like they've decided to omit every religious-themed Christmas song, unless it's purely instrumental.
"Santa Baby" really bugs me. It's creepy.
There are actually a LOT of Christmas songs out there, in many different languages. Many have been translated into English, but they are simply beautiful in their original language. The problem is that radio stations (generally speaking) are a purely secular institution, and they only play the most popular songs, the ones everybody is familiar with. It's annoying.

abu 'n um tulip said...

Sharon, I agree with your assessment of why there sometimes seems to be a lack of variety in Christmas music. It's that and the fact that some artists try to be creative and put out something either trendy with a low shelf-life or just plain horrid. They need to let that stuff die a natural death.
"Santa Baby" Wow. I had totally forgotten about that one and even now can't remember how it goes. The benefits of living overseas!