Saturday, December 20, 2008

Carols For Christmas: The Ugly

It's finally down to being less than one week away from Christmas! It's my favorite week of all, second only to Shark Week.

But did a shark stick on a Santa hat and delivered gifts to all of the good guppies out there? Fuck no! That would be ridiculous and you should be injected with some kind of death serum for thinking that.

You know what else brings up that analogy? These Christmas songs! Yes, the songs in this particular entry didn't seem to be either good or bad, and deserved an entry for themselves.

The strange, the unecessary, the WTF. Enjoy.

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

It's that oh-so-simple story of Grandma chugging too much eggnog on Christmas Eve, then being the victim of an accidental hit-and-run with Santa's sleigh on her walk home. Morbid? Yes. Funny? Yes.

Depressing? Perhaps. It seems that in the end, the boy telling the story and his Grandpa were the only people who seemed to be saddened by Grandma's death. I would too, if my Grandma had sudeenly be killed on Christmas Eve by a mishap that would've been hard to explain to the doctors and life insurance agencies.

And like most novelty Christmas songs, it got the "Adaptation into a Dumb Christmas Special" treatment which featured Elmo's follow-up song "Grandpa's Gonna Sue The Pants Off Santa." I don't care what you say, Cartoon Network and CW/PIX11, it is NOT a classic, and never will be. The new "Miser Brothers Christmas" special seems more classic-worthy than that dreck of a lazy cartoon.

The Snowmiser & Heatmiser Songs

Speaking of the Miser brothers, their respective songs deserve a place here as well. Rankin-Bass was not only famous for creating hour-long adaptations of three minute Chirstmas songs, but they were also notable for introducing charaters that had nothing to do with the song at all.

Just think about it: Yukon Cornelius, SD Kruger, Burgermeister Meisterburger, Frosty's Wife Crystal, Jesus. In the case of "The Year Without a Santa Claus," we got Snowmiser (the guardian of the poles and all cold weather) and his brother Heatmiser (watched over the tropics and wants everything to be hot).

By the time that Rankin-Bass got to this special, they had pretty much given up on adapting good Christmas songs, and simply attempted to make their obligatory Christmas cartoon with an unrelated yuletide song awkwardly shoehorned into it. In YWaSC's case, it was Elvis's "Blue Christmas" sung by children to convince Santa to not call off Christmas because he got lazy when he caught a damn common cold. So what did the RB lyrical Gods do? Write their own songs, of course!

Now early on, Jules Bass must have realized that he can get two checks for writing slightly different lyrics for essentially the same song. This is where Heatmiser and Snowmiser come in. They had no actual role in anything, but were conceived to be sprits to be in charge of Christmas weather, and are constantly in battle over whether the world should have a "White Christmas" or a "Green Christmas." They were also noted to be hams for the camera, and love singing songs about themselves, while not realizing that neither of them are very original.

Snowmiser is Mr. White Christmas, he's Mr. Snow. He's Mr. Icicle and he's Mr. 10 Below. Friends call him Snowmiser because whatever he touches, turns to snow in his clutch. He'd never want to know a day that's over 40 degress. He'd rather have 30, 20, 10, 5, then let em freeze. He's too much.

Whereas with Heatmiser, he's Mr. Green Christmas and Mr. Sun. He's also Mr. Heat Blister as well as Mr. 101. They call him Heatmiser because whatever he touches, starts to melt in his clutch. Unlike Snowmiser, he'd never wants to know a day under 60 degress. He'd rather have it 80, 90, 100 degrees. Like his brother, he's too much.

What is it about 50 degrees fahrenheit that neiter brother wants to touch? Either way, I still like these songs. They're some of the better earworms out there, I'll give you that.

Christmas at Ground Zero

I knew you were wondering how Weird Al was going to factor into this. One of the two great Christmas songs that he recorded (the other being "The Night Santa Went Crazy"), it's also one of his most morbid. Regardless of its more ominous tone that it took after 2001, the song is actually a lighthearted satire for the Cold War. Such is Weird Al, such is this quite an awesome song. It's just the video that he made that always gave me the chills.

Joy To The World

This is the very sequence from Will Vinton's "A Claymation Christmas" that I mentioned back in the Good entry. Now that I'm 21, I imagine this scene was a serene and touching sequence with fantastic animation. The six year-old version of Galileo thought that the gradual zoom-in on that stop-motion Chapel was traumatizing for fifteen years.

The "Christmas In The Stars" album

You may know of the infamous "Star Wars Holiday Special," but what about its brother, the Christmas album "Christmas In The Stars?" Nine songs of the most bizarre combo of Sci-Fi and Christmas than your average holiday episode of "Dr. Who," with most of them being sung by none other than C-3PO himself. Featuring such classics as "Bells, Bells, Bells," "What Do You Get a Wookie For Christmas (If He Already Owns a Comb)?" and a duet of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" between R2-D2 and John Bongiovi. Let's not forget 3PO's upbeat tune "The Odds Against Christmas."

It's notable for the sole reason that, unlike the TV abomination, the album is actually tolerable in that "so bad, it's good" sort of way. I've mentionee my KB Toys job before, and two songs in particular from this album ("What Do You Get a Wookie For Christmas," (embedded above) and "Merry, Merry Christmas") had shown up on the Christmas Muzak during nonconsecutive years. Since the mix CD repeated itself every 4 hours, they were among the select few songs that I had not only tolerated, but actually looked forward to listening to.

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas

There's nothing really wrong with this song. It's just that every time that I listen to it, I always imagine that if someone decided to go on a killing spree that would make any action movie proud, this song would be playing in the background.

The Chipmunk Song

Ditto with this one. There's a sequence in my screenplay that currently exists in my mind where a Jason-esque serial killer sneaks up and then bludgeons someone with a machete as soon as the Chipmunks got to the "Christmas, don't be laaaaaaate" part. The strike would occur at the "laaaaaaate," followed by a quick cut to black to the next scene.

I just love the 1960's-ness of this song, a decade where requesting a hula hoop for Christmas was considered rebellious.

Is it strange that whenever someone first discovers this song, it was on a recording medium that's one step behind the norm? I first had the song on a cassette tape in the early 90's, when CDs and Walkmans were all the rage. I can imagine some kind finding the 45 of it when Cassette tapes were popular, and one where someone found an 8 track of it during 45's heyday.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful - Twisted Sister

Surely when we think of Christmas music, we think of the Long Island-based glam metal group "Twisted Sister." You may not, but I'm making it my life's effort to make it so, one poor soul at a time. When enough are amassed, then we'll see who has the eggs now, Mother.

They managed to take this ho-hum Jesus song, and make it awesome.

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

I stuck this song here because it seems to be the most polarizing Christmas song of them all. People either love it or hate this one. I, for one, happen to be a fan of the song. So what if it's got Paul McCartney wishing us Merry Christmas with cheesy synthesizer goodness? It was the 80's, it was the norm. That, and I love cheesy, synthesized 80's music.

That's it for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Christmas Songs. Check back here every day for more potential postings!

No comments: