Tuesday, December 06, 2005

'Tis The Season, Part 2 - Eclectic Boogaloo.

So I've been thinking a wee bit more about Christmas music and I've decided to add a few of my favourites, just for balance. I could go on and on about the ones I hate, so how about some of the ones I like...?

What do you mean "no"? Please your bloody selves. I'm doing it anyway.

The Pogues and Kirsty McColl; "Fairytale Of New York"
Holy crap... what can you say about this one? Dysfunctional Christmas songs don't come any more dysfunctional (or, indeed, less country, given the subject matter). Sung by a drunk man from within the drunk tank of a New York City jail, he and his betrothed converse, including lyrics like "you're a bum, you're a punk, you're an old slut on junk, lying there almost dead on a drip in that bad. You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot - happy Christmas your arse, I pray god it's our last". Awesome stuff - but despite the insults it's a song with real heart whereby two folks realise that despite their tumultuous relationship, they love each other.... and Christmas. Juxtapose, for example, the above example with the heart wrenchingly beautiful "can't make it all alone, I've built my dreams around you", delivered mere moments after the above string of abuse. Unhate-able, even if you're not averse to Shane McGowan's drunken, accented delivery.
Spike's download-it-now rank: 9/10

Elton John; "Step Into Christmas"
Alright... don't take the piss. You know you love this stupid song. Heh, OK. Just kidding. Maybe you don't love it, but you love to hear it at least once. Despite it being just as narcissistic as "Your Song" (the upshot of which is, 'look how nice I am that I went to the trouble of writing this lovely song for you') and, as music geeks will point out, being almost completely devoid of high-end (someone once called it "Tep Into Chritmah"), when you hear it... it means it's almost Christmas! Or Chritmah. Besides, how can you hate any song so deeply rooted in the last century that it invites its listeners to "hop aboard your turntable"?
Spike's download-it-now rank: 1/10 (because you probably already have it)

Chris Rea; "Driving Home For Christmas"
I touched on this briefly in the last entry, but this ranks as one of my all-time favourites. Not heavy on the jingleys, not heavy on sentimentalism, it's a sweet little song that perfectly encapsulates the familiar feeling that you're done with work and all you have to do is fight traffic to get home for Christmas. In a way, it retains the same feeling that "There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays" portrays; that warm, fuzzy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach around this time of the year when you know all you have to do is get home to loved ones for Christmas to *really* start...
Spike's download-it-now rank: 10/10

Chris DeBurgh; "A Spaceman Came Travelling"
This one's a dopey choice because it's not that great of a song, and Chris DeBurgh is not that great of a singer. Even the premise is silly; the star that brought the wise men to Jesus' bed was, in fact, a spaceship and some space dude gets out, tells everyone not to be afraid, sings a wee "la la la" song and then pisses off again, promising to come back in 2000 years. Why's it here? Because I defy you to not join in with the "la la la la" chorus.
Spike's download-it-now rank: 3/10

Slade; "Merry Xmaz Everybody"
Few Americans are familiar with Slade. "Run Runaway" was their only hit here and few seem to be able to acknowledge their far superior (and original) version of "Cum On Feel The Noize". The Birmingham glam dudes have been knocking about for years and their festive offering is the perfect song to be belting out at the top of your voice into an empty vodka bottle on a bar. It also sounds particularly good at similar volume in the street after you've been kicked out. Not that I'm talking from experience or anything.... ahem...
Spike's download-it-now rank: 5/10

Wizzard; "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday"
This one's a mish-mash of everything, every musical instrument under the sun (including, rather appropriately, a cash register) and a childrens chorus complete with a rather threatening introduction by Roy Wood, "alright, you kids... take it!". It's fun and it's cute, but it's not something you want to come round in rotation a whole lot. Listen once, maybe twice later, and then put it away til next year.
Spike's download-it-now rank: 5/10

Greg Lake; "I Believe In Father Christmas"
Ugh! What an horrifically middle England thing to say: "Father Christmas". One almost has to say it in a plummy posh toff voice. "Oh, Faathah Christmarse? May I heve a pony foh maiy Christmarse?". I have always considered Emmerson Lake and Palmer's 25-minute synthesised wank-fests to be something akin to Hell's muzak. In fact, I believe that on your first day in Hades, it's customary to listen to their appauling slaughter of "Fanfare For The Common Man" three or four times. But thankfully Greg Lake, the L in ELP, forgoes too much Yamaha in his only solo single. This one has many split; some (including Mr L himself) say it's a song that objects to the commercialisation of Christmas, others say that it's anti-religious because of its questioning tone, but you know what? I like that about it. People should question more things! It's got a nice, twinkley sound and incorporates, respectfully, one of the finest pieces of classical music ever written; Prokofiev's "Troika", a million miles away from when ELP pissed all over Aaron Copland. Hallelujah! Noel! Be it Heaven or Hell, the Christmas we get, we deserve.
Spike's download-it-now rank: 6/10

The Waitresses; "Christmas Wrapping"
You know you love it! Admit it! Sure it's not quite in tune. Sure it has some dodgy rhymes. Sure it's catchy....
Spike's download-it-now rank: 6/10

So there you go, a few suggestions for your festive i-poddery - assuming they're not already on there. If there's any others, drop me a line, removing the bracketed section, at: stinkerdoodle@[take this bit out]gmail.com - tell me what I missed and why and I'll do an update before Christmas.