At my house, we are in the throes of the holidays — as evidenced by the extension cord-laden Christmas tree that is being duct-taped to the front room fireplace.
All my radios are tuned to the “all Christmas-with-nary-a-bathroom-break” stations — except for those that play twangy Christmas country music (as opposed to the one station playing good Christmas country music, which now plays classic rock).
This brings me to my first annual list of the worst songs of the holidays.
My wife suggests I leave this list for the last week of the holidays when we are all plum tuckered out of Christmas music so that I don’t look like a Grinch. However, she is the one who suggested that I decorate the house with twinkle lights higher than anyone ever has before and made me rent a cellphone tower for our front yard to accomplish this.
First is the song of “The Christmas Pumps,” or whatever it’s called. Frankly, I would rather chew my leg off than hear any more about that unfortunate boy's reasoning for buying high-heeled shoes. The song couldn’t be more emotionally manipulative if it was performed and produced by blind orphans.
Jumping right to the next song, listing the horror in no particular order — there are two kinds of people in this world — those who like Neil Diamond and those who think he shouldn’t be allowed near a microphone from just after Halloween to and including New Year‘s.
While I am on the subject of Mr. Diamond — and I promice to never be again — I will take this opportunity to say, what on earth was he thinking in performing “I Dreamed a Dream,” the role of a sick and dying woman in "Les Miserables”? My suspension of disbelief paled in comparison.
While we are talking about forced vacations, someone ask Johnny Mathis to take a cruise during the same Halloween through New Year's period.
Frankly, anytime I hear Johnny sing “Sleigh Ride” I am left with too many unanswered questions.
Members of the original Beatles are responsible for songs four and five. I understand their creative aversion to holiday staples like “Jingle Bells” or “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” — artistic individuality and all — but “So This Is Christmas” and “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” are John Lennon's and Sir Paul's most iffy offerings.
Coincidentally, suicide rates are highest during the holidays. You do the math.
"Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, The very next day I hurled on my slacks. This year, To save me from tears … I won’t listen to George Michael."
The other song Mr. Wham contributed to is just as bad. With all due respect to honorable causes, “Do They Know It's Christmas Time?” — alternative title “Pray for Another Song” featuring Boy George and other jobless English lads (Sting being the exception to the unemployed rule) — makes me wish my ear wax would just seal off my ears altogether.
They both, however, are perfect songs for drowning out the sound of the electric can openers, or of teeth being drilled.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra version of “Ring, Christmas Bells/Christmas Eve" makes the little voices in my head converse all at once on the topic of mortality and wider freeways. Then the little voices all start disco dancing.
Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's fame recreating Judy Garland's famous “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sounds to many like she started the celebratory eggnog a little early, and I'm thinking Memorial Day.
“Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree” would be considered sub-par if not for the charming Brenda Lee, and John Denver singing as a 7-year-old in “Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas” leaves me fondly remembering cherished school days of fingernails on a chalkboard.
Most anything else by Denver is gold, including his Christmas duets with Muppets — favorites of my family. Try those instead.
Penultimately, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” should not be sung by anyone. Ever. Michael Jackson couldn’t do it. Celine Dion can’t do it. I don’t think Beverly Sills or even Sandi Patti accompanied by the Happy Jerusalem Synthesized Ensemble, employing seven key changes, could save it.
Finally, I give you anything sung by Kathie Lee Gifford — especially “Mary, Did You Know?” Believe me, Mary, being great with knowledge, was better off not knowing.
Now I like Kathie Lee as much as the next guy — unless the next guy has invested his kids' college funds in plastic or silicone, in which case he would like her more.
Want the scuffles in Afghanistan to be over? Ship her to Kabul for a series of humanitarian holiday freebies and those poor rebels will be crawling out of the hills begging to be cauterized at the neck. End of skirmishes.
The best of the best? Try Christmas songs by Frank Sinatra, the Carpenters (is there anyone’s voice more suited to the holidays that Karen Carpenter? I don’t think so,) Doris Day, Natalie and Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Amy Grant, Harry Connick Jr., Mel Torme, James Taylor, Ray Conniff and, lastly, the Muppets.
Bah humbug aside, most Christmas music, even the luke-warm (read — technically bad), can be instrumental in ushering in the holiday spirit faster than decorations or brightly wrapped presents ever could.
Merry Christmas, darling.
Davison Cheney writes the Prodigal Dad column for KSL.com. See his other writings at davisoncheneymegadad.blogspot.com.