Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh no! Christmas songs again!

In every radio market at least one station scraps its regular programming to play all Christmas music. I wish it were the right wing talk station but alas it’s usually the New Wave or Celine Dion station. The ratings are always huge. I’m surprised some stations don’t keep the format on all year. But it brings up the question, which Christmas songs do you love and which do you hate?

Personally, I get a warm feeling when I hear Nat King Cole’s “Christmas Song” for the first time each season. By the 50th, not so much. The Phil Spector Christmas album is still my favorite. Putting aside that he killed someone, we thank Phil for a real musical gift.

And Darlene Love's , "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" which is a recent parody of her own work on the album is maybe the funniest Christmas song ever.

I fancy the oldies. Brenda Lee’s “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree”, Bobby Helm’s “Jingle Bell Rock”, and the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick”.

The Boss’s Xmas ditty is pretty catchy as are the King’s.

Re: “White Christmas”, give me the Drifters over Bing. (Interesting that so many classic Christmas songs were written by Jews.)

Some obscure holiday songs I recommend: “Run Run Rudolph” by Chuck Berry, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by the Four Seasons, “Monster Holiday” by Bobby Boris Pickett (that one always tears me up), and “Santa Claus is Watching You” by Ray Stevens. Super obscure but worth finding is “Lost Winter Dreams” by Lisa Mychols. And for the motherlode of bad taste fun, try to find Claudine Longet singing “Winter Wonderland”. Before she shot skier Spider Sabich in cold blood she and husband, Andy Williams, were the first couple of the season. Their annual family Christmas special was a must-see. They even have a kid named Noel.
Songs I can’t stand: “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano, “Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney, and “the Little Drummer Boy” by anybody. Whey do stations overplay TO DEATH the songs that are the most repetitious? Also, anything sung by kids usually makes me cringe.

I’m only sorry Kurt Cobain left us before he could give the world his Christmas album.

For a more vocal pop sound, you can’t beat Linda Eder’s holiday album. Her version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” would bring a tear to a glass eye. Listen for it the next time you’re in an elevator. Streisand is great but there’s more ornamentation than on the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Johnny Mathis is a little too sugar plum fairy for my tastes, and you can always count on “Mr. Peace and Goodwill to All Men”, Sinatra. The Carpenters have their fans too. Best new CD: The Manhattan Transfer just released an Acapella album that is gorgeous.

But if I had to pick my all-time favorite Christmas song, the one that most expresses my feelings about the holiday season, it would have to be “The Christmas Song” by the Chipmunks. Sometimes the right song and the right performers just combine for sheer perfection.

What songs do you love or loathe?


Anonymous said...

Hand's down fav is Mel Blanc: "The Hat I got for Christmas is too Beeg" Mel in his best stereotypical Mexican character sings about his beeg hat. I played that on the radio one season and got more requests for that than White Christmas. Mel did a bunch of Christmas songs in "character" and I loved them all.

Phil Spector stuff is groovy too.

Bill Nesbitt

admrnelson said...

Nothing beats hanging around the Christmas tree...eating a handfull of Vicodin...and listening to Cheech & Chongs "Santa Claus and his old lady".

Dolores said...

Among the Christmas songs I enjoy (although not typically until after the calander flips to December):

Eartha Kitt's version of Santa Baby
Nat King Cole's rendition of the Christmas Song
Most of Amy Grant's Christmas album

And in the E-eeeew column, I hate the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas song. Inane.

Ditto "Grandma Got Runover..." (although other parodies by the same group of misfits amuse me -- I think Grandma just got overplayed)

Anonymous said...

Nothing says Christmas like Little Augie Rios singing "Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus".


Anonymous said...

My favorite CD is Bruce Cockburn's "Christmas." (Can't forget that title!)

If your name was "Cockburn" you probably wouldn't have a positive outlook on life, this is not a sunny guy in his non-holiday music.

So it surprising how joyful this collection is, especially "Mary Had a Baby."

If we had not been given a million parodies of "12 Days of Christmas" after Stan Freeberg's, I think we'd have gotten on just fine...

Anonymous said...

I'm not much of a fan of Christmas music (or of Christmas for that matter) but I have always loved James Brown's "Santa Claus Go Striaght to the Ghetto" and the Kinks "Father Christmas." Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons do a version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" that you need to hear once... and only once or your brain will melt. The only Chirstmas music that really moves me is the soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

DrMax said...

Was in complete agreement with you about "Drummer Boy" until I heard the version by Burl Ives. Think it was originally done in the 60's but it has such a modern sounding arrangement that it has become one of my new favorites.

As for the holiday song I loathe above all others, the writers of the maudlin "Christmas Shoes" need to go to song jail.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm just happy XM found enough bandwidth to give their five Christmas music channels their own spots this year, instead of having to dump regular channels in the lineup until Dec. 26 (Special X is always good for some twisted yuletide tunes).

moe berg said...

please tell me you've heard patton oswalt's standup about slowing down the chipmunks' christmas song as a boy.

this is the closest thing to a free mp3 i could find online.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago I worked on a Celine Dion CBS special in which she did covers of a number of holiday standards. I'm not a huge fan of her usual pop theatrics, but if you like Christmas standards then you should listen to her These Are Special Times CD. I'm a Rock'N Roll guy, but I have never heard anyone do a better vocal performance than her version of "Oh Holy Night". In rehearsals she did it three times in a row and was flawless each time. To paraphrase Maxwell Smart, when she puts her voice to use for the forces of good instead of evil, the results are astounding.

Anonymous said...

Faves: Oh Holy Night by Mahalia Jackson. I'll be home for Christmas - by Bingo

Getting on my nerves: Santa Baby &
Merry Christmas - War is Over - Sorry, but Yoko Ono can ruin a song in a way no other human being is capable of. (Though I'm sure she's a perfectly nice individual)(?)

Anonymous said...

The Phil Spector Christmas Album. Esp. The Ronnette's Sleigh Ride.

Diane said...

Oh sure, everyone complains about OJ and Robert Blake getting away with it, but Claudine Longet was caught WITH THE SMOKING GUN IN HER HAND and still got away with it . . .

Nat King Cole's Christmas Song is my favorite and I concur with oyvey about the jazzy soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas

R.A. Porter said...

Definitely agree with the Bruce Cockburn recommendation. For me, it's a tossup between that and the "Too Many Santas" album from The Bobs.

And while Drummer Boy is usually dull, I still love the Bing+Bowie duet.

Anonymous said...

The Jimmy Eat World rendition of "Last Christmas" is my favorite Christmas song. The original Wham! version rocks, too.

And I really like Feliz Navidad...

Goedi said...

Many holiday songs are annoying. Indeed.
Here are some, though, that give me chills:
Harry Belafonte, "Mary's Boy Child" (by his fourth note my spine is a-tingle)
Ella Fitzgerald, "The Secret of Christmas" (supremely intimate microphone work)
Billy Eckstine, "Christmas Eve" (what a voice)

I also never tire of the Grinch. And, honestly, the South Park Christmas Classics are quite good.

Goedi said...

Oh, and - though I may be betraying my foreign birth and education here - Bach's Christmas Oratorio is full of several gorgeous pieces. Perhaps not radio material, but still. Worth a listen.

Mike Barer said...

Hey, I love Adam Sandler's "Channukkah Song", although it is a bit satirical for most of my family.

Anonymous said...

Ray and Betty singing "Baby it's Cold Outside" which maybe isn't technically a Christmas song, but gets played around Christmas anyway. And when I was reeally teeny, before I could speak English, I thought "We Three Kings" was beautiful when sung by a choir.

Of course I couldn't understand a word of it.

Michael Berry said...

It's not Christmas without Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

11 Christmas Songs written by people who celebrate Hanukah
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
White Christmas - Irving Berlin
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - Johnny Marks
(There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays - Bob Allen, Al Stillman
O Holy Night – Adolphe Adam and Placide Cappeau
Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Johnny Marks
Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish
Silver Bells - Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
A Holly Jolly Christmas - Johnny Marks

ME said...

Santa Baby by anybody is horrible.

Though not precisely a Christmas song, I love Dean Martin's version of "Marshmallow World". I also have a great CD called "Christmas Cocktail" (I think there are three of them now) with jazzy verions of standards by the Rat Packers, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and the like.

Harry Connick's "Harry for the Holidays" and country singer John Berry's "This is Bethlehem" are incredibly beautiful albums.

Just bought Sarah McLaughlin's new one Wintersong and she does a great version of "Christmastime is Here Again".

Random favourite tracks, in no particular order, "Elf's Lament" by the Barenaked Ladies from their Barenaked for the Holidays CD, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" from the Love Actually soundtrack,the SHeDaisy funked up version of "Deck the Halls" from A Brand New Year, and Robert Downey's version of "River" from An Ally McBeal Christmas. Oh, and the Irish girl in me must hear "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues daily during Christmas week. Mandatory.

I would also be remiss if I left out the Muppets Christmas album. Classic.

I love the Christmas music :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ken about Phil Spector's Christmas album. Not a bad one in the bunch, that is, if you can overlook Phil's schmaltzy Christmas message read over a typical 'Wall of Sound' music track.

I still like Doug and Bob McKenzie's version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" (and NOT just because they're fellow Canucks), but my all time favorite has to be John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)". A wonderful, wonderful song, unlike Mr. McCartney's bubble gummy, over synthesized, pop pap, "Wonderful Christmastime". That one...not so wonderful Paul.

Doug Thompson

Anonymous said...

I love John Lennon's "Happy XMas (War is Over)" and even Yoko can't ruin it for me.

"Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses has some nostalgic pull.

I think the Bing+Bowie "Little Drummer Boy" is irresistible for sheer weirdness. Especially if you track down the video version from the TV special way back when. Whew. One so old and one so stoned they both look like aliens.

But, child of the 80s that I am, I can't hear the Band Aid song "Do They Know It's Christmas" (yes, including the inane "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime" line) without sighing a sweet little sigh.

Warren Fleece said...

"2000 Miles" by the Pretenders.

A hopeful finish to probably the best album I've ever heard.

Anonymous said...

Happy Christmas(war is over)by John Lennon, beautiful song.

Anonymous said...

It's the wee hours and my memory's failing, but a couple come to mind...

In the movie Accidental Tourist there's a scene where William Hurt's character overhears Geena Davis singing a song about Santa. Very catchy and a touching scene.

There's also a song, I want to say it's by Dwight Yoakam about daddy's drunk playing Santa that's quite funny and good. Imus is fond of playing this one to death for the last few years.

Anonymous said...

Every time christmas is coming I'm starting to have night terrors because I know it's time for Wham! and "Last Christmas". Again... and again. Here in Germany this song is on every station and it is played at least twice an hour.
Now I don't use to listen to the radio anymore anyway (except for the car, still have a cassette-deck and no device to record any music at home) but no matter where you are, work, shopping, train station, there is Wham! playing in the background. It really drives me nuts! And then again I am amazed by people calling the station with "I would like to choose a song - Sure, what do you want us to play? - Wham! with 'Last Christmas'". This is the moment I huddle in a corner I start weeping.

Eric L. Sofer said...

I have to say that, cheesy as it is, "Christmastime is Here", introduced in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is very popular with me, even if it is sung by kids. (The instrumental version is also worth the price of admission IMHO.)

I'm kind of keen on "Christmas Rapping" by the Waitresses, and the non-adorned version of Emerson Lake and Palmer's "Father Christmas."

However, the two classics are, as noted by others, Nat King Cole's Christmas Song and the Chipmunk's Christmas song.

branfordbob said...

My fave, although it's not really a song, is Rob Bartlet's version of the famous poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Sal Minela ( a would-be wiseguy from Brooklyn).

Hands down, the Christmas song that get me postal: the good old Barking Dogs' "Jingle Bells".

Anonymous said...

My very favorite is like Ken, Nat King Cole's rendition of "The Christmas Song." Close behind comes Elvis singing "Blue Christmas" and then it's Barbra Streisand doing "I Wonder as I Wander." Some years ago I was building up my Christmas song collection and found a Christmas Collection tape of Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. But Dean was singing "White Christmas" and Bing was doing "The Christmas Song". I thought that was so weird...or good marketing!

WizarDru said...

Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family" makes me smile every time I hear it.

If I don't hear any Charlie Brown Christmas music...it ain't Christmas.

And let's not forget "Christmas at Ground Zero" by Weird Al Yankovic, to balance out the sugary sweetness. :-)

doggans said...

I second Al Yankovic's "Christmas at Ground Zero", and throw in a vote for his "The Night Santa Went Crazy".

Also, can't forget "(Let's Have) A Patrick Swayze Christmas" by the cast of MST3K.

Anonymous said...

Have to go with the Carpenters (both Christmas Albums, although listening to some of the songs makes me well up when I hear that glorious voice of Karen Carpenter and think about the fact that we lost her all too soon) and Mannheim Steamroller's first Christmas Album. Their version of "Silent Night" seems to paint a picture of someone expectantly looking out a window at a landscape, watching snow gently being carried by the wind and settling softly on the ground, and longing for something that he or she hoped would happen -- but is not sure what that something is -- and wondering if it ever will...

On the other hand, nothing like a song or two from Hilary Duff or Justin Timberlake to bring on that warm feeling of a traditional, old-fashioned holiday....

And speaking of non-Christmas songs (weren't we?) that seem to edge their way in this time of year, when did "My Favorite Things" from THE SOUND OF MUSIC become a Christmas song? I can't find a single reference to any holiday, including Hannukah, Kwaanza, New Year's, Super Bowl Sunday, etc. in it...

David J. Loehr said...

I always love "Charlie Brown Christmas," which gets played anytime around here. We also do Nat King Cole, Bruce Cockburn's "Christmas" and the Bobs' "Too Many Santas." The Barenaked Ladies disc joined the rotation last year. For a little more traditional mood, we love the New England Christmastide albums and Wynton Marsalis' "Crescent City Christmas Carol," which has a lovely version of the Carol of the Bells.

As for Sir Paul, here's the start of a song I wrote last Christmas when my wife snapped after hearing the Christmas song too many times.

The Moog is on,
The organs beep,
We hear some bells,
And I might weep...

Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes,
Simply hating repetitive Christmas tunes

I can send the rest if you really want to see where the Lennon works into it.

Anonymous said...

Current favorites: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah MacLachlan, and Little Red Shoes by "The Iceman", Jerry Butler (the guy who hosts the DooWop specials on PBS)

Honorable Mentions:
Green Christmas by Stan Freberg, and any of those Bob Rivers Twisted Christmas parodies.

Anonymous said...

Christmas is Coming by Miss Piggy, Scooter, Gonzo and Robin.

I know it's repetitive, but it's the Muppets - one of my favorite comedy influences.

Now if the Marx Brothers had ever made a Christmas album...well, no. Nevermind. That'd be too weird.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

The winnah and still champeen of evil Christmas songs: "Jingle Bell Rock."

Anonymous said...

I love "River" by Joni Mitchell, but it seems to have morphed into a Christmas song. Both Sarah McLachlan and James Taylor do a version on their Christmas albums. I'm also not a fan of Lennon/Yoko's "Happy XMas (War is Over)." Listening to her toneless semi-chanting of the chorus makes my flesh crawl.

For me, the one 'gotta-listen' song at Christmas (a few times, anyway) is "Baby Please Come Home" by U2.

And although I'm not a Celine Dion fan, I have to agree with 'some guy' that her version of "Oh Holy Night" is amazing.

Emily Blake said...

I've always loved "Oh Holy Night". Even Cartman didn't ruin that one for me.

When I was in high school I worked at Boston Market for years. Every Christmas they'd start mixing holiday music into the rotattion in like, October in ever increasing incriments until the week before Christmas it was all theme music all day.

Apparently there are forty-seven versions of "Sleigh Ride," because sometimes I'd hear that song three times in one hour and all three would be different crappy versions. I was also in band and every single Christmas concert for four years the band played "Sleigh Ride." Never any other Christmas song. Ever.

That song makes me want to throw a chair through the window.

Anonymous said...

Rhino Records has a great Christmas CD called "Bummed Out Christmas"

It's loaded with great yultide tunes such as...

"Christmas in jail"
"Santa came home drunk"
"Christmas in Vietnam"

Every xmas eve here at the Bell household, we fire up the combo fake fireplace/space heater, open up a carton of 7-11 eggnog, mix in some generic bourbon, and crank up this classic CD.

Then about midnight, I run out into the front yard and fire off ten or twenty rounds into the sky from my 9mm.

You remember Christmas time in Bakersfield, don't ya Ken?

(Just kidding about the 9mm. I'm on parole)

Unknown said...

Anything by Bob Rivers and Twisted Radio is good. I particularly like "Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear" to the tune of "Winter Wonderland," and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" done to the tune of "House of the Rising Sun" is a real favorite.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe no one mentioned "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!" Nat King Cole's Christmas song is sublime, if one MUST choose. Not a fan of the genre.
If I must sing (and as a singer, I must), Meredith Willson wrote a little known B'way show called HERE'S LOVE (Ken, ask Annie, I'm sure she'll know). It is a musical version of Miracle On 34th Street. Being the King of Counterpoint, Willson wrote a couterpoint to "It's Beginning to Look a lot LIke Christmas" which is loads of fun to sing... and so, I do whenever pressed in to caroling duties.

And, for a laugh (and, I'll do just about anything for a laugh) singing SILVER BELLS with a lateral lisp (ala Pinky Lee... for anyone old enough to know who that is). It is the best lateral lisp song of all times.

Chappy Chanukah!

Anonymous said...

Things I thought I would never say:

Last year. The radio was on. I turned to my wife and said, "I hate that McCartney song."

And now that you've brought it up Ken I can't get the damn hook out of my head. Ken: Hating you right now.

Several years ago Barry Manilow put out a Christmas album and it is quite good. Give it a listen sometime. Really.

Mark Bennett

Anonymous said...

Spider Sabich, not Savage. Poor guy was the Nicole Simpson of his day. Let's at least get his name right.

By Ken Levine said...

Thanks, Michael, good catch.

As a teenager I worked at Wallichs Music City, a then-big LA record store. The Christmas music began in August.

People would come in and buy the New Christy Minstrils "Here we come a carolin'" and I was like, "Really????"

Anonymous said...

I DO actually recommend the Tori Amos version of "Little Drummer Boy," but then again I can easily picture it being used in a soundtrack for a scene when someone is bleeding in a snowbank, so that shows you where I'm coming from.

And, please, everyone: give a chance to Blink 182's "I Won't Be Home For Christmas." It's bouncy and joyous and starts off with the lyrics "Outside the carolers start to sing / I can't describe the joy they bring / 'Cause joy is something they don't bring me..."

—Troy Z

Anonymous said...

I DO actually recommend the Tori Amos version of "Little Drummer Boy," but then again I can easily picture it being used in a soundtrack for a scene when someone is bleeding in a snowbank, so that shows you where I'm coming from.

And, please, everyone: give a chance to Blink 182's "I Won't Be Home For Christmas." It's bouncy and joyous and starts off with the lyrics "Outside the carolers start to sing / I can't describe the joy they bring / 'Cause joy is something they don't bring me..."

—Troy Z

VP81955 said...

Heard that Elton John Christmas song on the radio at a doctor's office today, and it's nearly as bad as McCartney's. (BTW, Ken, I think you meant "smooth jazz" rather than "New Wave"; can't think of many stations these days that play late-'70s Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, etc.)

Anyway, the Christmas songs I love:

* "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," Darlene Love -- the best track on the Phil Spector Christmas album, and that's saying something. It's so good, you don't mind hearing it the rest of the year. (If Spector is convicted, all royalties from this album should go to Lana Clarkson's family.)

* "The Christmas Waltz," Frank Sinatra -- he recorded it twice, but the version I prefer is the one without the chorus going "Merry Christmas, merry Christmas" at the close.

* "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town," Bruce Springsteen -- I'm a fan of Springsteen's, but don't go crazy over him despite the 12 years or so I spent living in New Jersey. But this is so fun, so charming, I can't help it.

* "Run Rudolph Run," Chuck Berry -- I like this song so much that I once used it as background music for my college paper's answering machine message saying they were closed for the holiday. Dave Edmunds did a worthy cover of it in the eighties.

* "2000 Miles," the Pretenders -- best contemporary rock Christmas song of the past quarter-century.

* "White Christmas," the Drifters -- thank you, Ahmet Ertegun, Clyde McPhatter or whomever decided to have the Drifters cut this version of the Irving Berlin standard. I bet even Irving liked it.

Anonymous said...

"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses has always been my favorite. An honest song about a stressful year and blowing all obligations off in favor of a quiet, peaceful, solitary yuletide. Only to find that the guy you have a crush on very conveniently decided to do the same!

Anonymous said...

I actually like the Ally McBeal Christmas album -- especially the version of "River" sung by Robert Downey, Jr. Personally, this is my favorite version of the song. Gets me gushing every time.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with most of your picks. "Little Drummer Boy" is an exception. Joan Jett recorded it in the early 80's and it's one of my favorites. For some reason it doesn't get alot of airplay though.

branfordbob said...

Since John Lennon's "Happy Xmas" has been mentioned a few times, I thought I'd throw out the fact that Lennon stole the melody in its entirety from a song called "Stewball". The Hollies covered the song in the mid-sixties.

I've been waiting to work that into a conversation for years...


Charlie Kennedy said...

Three favorites, in no particular order:

"You're A Mean One, Mister Grinch" by rock guitarist Gary Hoey. This one stays crunchy even in milk, plus is has a nice, snarky bass underneath.

"Christmastime Is Here" by Vince Guaraldi. Ken, this is the exception about cringing when kids sing. Haunts me.

"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". The original from "Meet Me In St. Louis" (although Margaret O'Brien's character in the movie was a horrible child).

And to answer the inevitable question after a Judy Garland reference -- no, I'm not.

The Curmudgeon said...

"Interesting that so many classic Christmas songs were written by Jews."

Interesting? That's America to me!

54 comments and counting and no Yogi Yorgesson references? (I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas... I Vas Santa Claus for the PTA...)

OK, not my favorites exactly, but so many others had been taken....

The Curmudgeon said...

Besides, it's my burning ambition to some day write the classic Purim song.

Jim Walsh said...

Best: Satchmo's "Christmas In New Orleans." Chocked me up when I heard it last year following Katrina.

Worst: The "Cat Christmas" song where the cat and the mouse huddle together and the cat dies: Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww...

Cap'n Bob said...

Coming in behind at least 56 others, there's little chance I'll be heard, but here goes anyway. My favorite Xmas songs are "O Holy Night" and "Have Yorself a Merry Little Christmas," assuming they're sung by someone with a great voice. Last year I heard "Blue Christmas" sung by Porky Pig. I'm not usually a fan of these novelty songs but this one was funny.
The worst? I would sooner have sharp pencils shoved into my ears than hear "The 12 Days of Christmas" again.

Anonymous said...

Ramones - Punk Rock Christmas
James Brown - Soulful Christmas
Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis
Jackson 5 - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Cuba L.A. - What Child Is This?


Kahoro Wa Kibochi/Karlus Trapp - Kwanzaa Nguzo Saba
Adam Sandler - The Chanukah Song (already mentioned but well worth repeating)
Woggles - Ramadan Romance
Ween - Roses Are Free
Motley Crue - Shout At The Devil

Anonymous said...

OK, Here's my favorite collection. A John Waters Christmas!

Check it out on www.npr.org (just search for John Water's Christmas). Great interview with Mr. Waters about the collection. I like "Santa Claus is a Black Man" - it's so bad, it's good!

Ken, John also hates "Little Drummer Boy" and LOVES the Chipmunks (maybe too much. You'll understand if you listen to the interview).

Dwacon said...

Ug... the sound of that stuff makes me want to jump head-first out of a window!

Eric L. Sofer said...

Great Krypton! How could I have possibly forgotten "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"??? Unquestionably the FINEST offering of holiday musical fare!

Every year, I root for him to drop that darned sled and show the Who's the REAL meaning of Christmas... and every damn year, he catches it and brings it back. Weeping... weeping...

ChrisO said...

Though there's only snippets of songs, SNL did a very funny sketch, "A Dysfunctional Family Christmas," that featured such classics as "Let's Pretend We Like Each Other (This Christmas)", "Ballad of the Co-Dependent", and "Runny Funny Daddy"
("Daddy's nose is red and runny,
Daddy's voice is rough and funny.
Anmd the only words I can understand
are 'God' and 'Damn' and 'Christmas'")

There were also great song titles like "I've Got My Drinking Under Control For The Holidays", "Cant' You Let It Drop, It's Christmas", "What I Want You Can't Buy Me", "Fruitcake And Shame", and "Why Am I The Only One Who Knows What Christmas Really Means?"

From the great Phil Hartman Jan Hooks years. And yes, I know it's fashionable to bash SNL, but that was a really great cast.

little john said...

Under haunting: John Lennon, "and so this is Christmas and what have you done ?"

As an aside, I wonder what Lennon's reaction would have been to 9/11, and the attacks on his adopted home ? If I had Ken's gift, I would pen a column - What Would Johnny Say ? Would he still be singing Give Peace A Chance, or would he have railed against the blind hatred from the unprovoked attacks ?

Supposedly it took Neil Young only 3 days to pen and release 'Four Dead In Ohio' after the students were killed, bumping C,S,N, & Y's own song off the # 1 spot on the charts. Its been 6 long years Neil, where is your song of woe for the 3,000 ?

Back to Christmas songs: under hilarious would be Porky Pig's rendition of Elvis' Blue Blue Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Four simple words that have utterly destroyed my memories of youth:

Billy Idol Happy Holidays


No, it's not a (intentional) joke, not a spoof, and no wall-crawling zombies get fried in the video.

ravaj said...

growing up in the family of a rabbi and living in a flat above the sanctuary i did not grow up with any xmas songs.

did go to an anglican school, though, and thus am very fond of xmas carols, especially 'the holly & the ivy' & 'wassail wassail all over the town'.

as for chanukah songs, since having had it sung to me in an ambulance after i was being rushed to hospital one memorial day following an accident on interstate 81, i cannot hear the dreidel song without breaking into a cold sweat. not even the version by the barenaked ladies.

happy holidays

Anonymous said...

Jackson Browne did a really amazing political Christmas song (almost an anti-Christmas song, but not really) with the Chieftans, called "The Rebel Jesus." By far my favorite thing to listen to during Christmastime.

lonestarr357 said...

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt (seriously, Catwoman knocked that out of the park)

Christmas Vacation (from the movie) - Mavis Staples

And who doesn't love "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch?"

Roger Owen Green said...

The Bells of Christmas by Julie Andrews on a Firestone Christmas album in the mid '60's. I've never seen it on CD. Beautiful.

Waitresses -Yes.
Bing & David - Yes.
Dominic the Donkey-NO!

Cranky Daze said...

Two favorite Christmas songs, written by Dolly Parton (who knew?) and performed by her and Kenny Rogers in their 1984 Christmas special:
(I'll Be Home) With Bells On
And "Once Upon a Christmas."

Best version ever of "O Holy Night" by Josh Groban.

Anonymous said...

My vote's for "A Fairytale Of New York" by The Pogues with Kirsty MaColl.

Buttermilk Sky said...

When I'm in a good mood: Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." In fact, almost anybody singing this can get to me.

When I'm fed up with it all: Red Peters's "You Ain't Gettin' Shit For Christmas."

And I like George Winston's "December."

Anonymous said...

Around this time of year, I
always have to yank the toilet
chain and conjure up that typical
old Jew invented standard, "We're
Reinventing the Holocaust for

There's nothing like a good hoax
to liven up any season!

Your friend,
Piltdown Man

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Anonymous said...

How is it possible that no one has mentioned Jethro Tull's A Christmas Song? It's like holiday crack, I must have it.

The Pogues song is splendid.
Check out the Blues Traveler song "Christmas" sometime if you get a chance. It's on A Very Special Christmas Vol 3. And while you're there, give the Steve Winwood carol a listen, too. Yum.

Unknown said...

Funny story: So when I was in fifth or sixth grade (I'm 36 now), I was watching Accidental Tourist in our living room while my Mom was on the phone in the kitchen (remember those long chords) when Geena Davis began singing "I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus." Without realizing I began to sing along when suddenly my Mom overheard me and stretched that long chord through the dining room and around the corner to get a look at the tv screen. "That's Grandpop's song! Oh my God," she said to my Aunt Lorie, "Lor, Geena Davis is singing Grandpop's song!" That's when I too realized that for the first time EVER we were hearing my Great Grandpop's song on TV. Turns out my Great Grandpop, Frank Adorno (a.k.a., "Frankie Adams" because back in his time you took a stage name to avoid prejudice, in this case against Italians) had sold the rights to that song without anybody ever knowing, including his oldest daughter and the person to whom he left his most valued possession - his big wooden trunk filled with all his handwritten music and lyrics. My Great Aunt Rose, who passed away two years ago, never opened the trunk. She wanted everything inside to remain exactly the way her father had left it. Well, that was until her passing, when she left the trunk to my Mother (her Goddaughter and the only one in the family who pursued a music career - she was fantastic), when low and behold for the very first time we all got to see the handwritten lyrics to all his songs, including the one we've all known as our family's Christmas song for as long as I can remember. "I'm Gonna Lasso Santa Claus," as well as the signed release form relinquishing any and all rights to royalties which was signed way back in the 50's! Now I hear it every year around this time playing in WAWA (local chain of convenience stores)! Pretty cool!! Needless to say, I totally agree..."VERY CATCHY!" Thanks for your post! Put a big smile on my face!! "Touching!" :) Merry Christmas!! -Cynthia