I think you’ll
disagree, one of the good things about the festive season is the music. Christmas songs ROCK! Well, they do during the first 25 days of December, or when you’re really, REALLY drunk – the rest of the time they’re a fetid pile of reindeer cack. But let’s ignore that fact for now as it doesn’t suit the purpose of this blog post.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a self-proclaimed connoisseur of fine tunes or an Olly Murs fan, because on December 1 all your usual tastes, good or bad, will go flying merrily out the window, to be replaced with a manic obsession for anything containing the lyrics ‘merry’ or ‘snow’ or that is accompanied by an endless cacophony of sleigh bells and choirs of tone-deaf Northern children. And quite rightly so! Christmas is a time for madness, for guzzling eggnog til it squirts out your eyeballs, for exchanging old tat and becoming estranged from family members. There is no place for music snobbery at Yuletide. I don’t care whether it’s some obscure punk band from the 70s or Michael Bublé singing, the fact remains that they are both singing songs about figgy pudding, leaping lords and cranberry sauce and using words like ‘Ding’ and ‘Dong’. If you honestly can’t see and enjoy the sublime lunacy in that you might as well go roger yourself with a partridge, in a pear tree. Wake up and smell the Prozac – those aren’t sleigh bells you can hear – THAT is the sound of brain cells going jingly jangly up the metaphorical chimney, along with your letters to Santa and Jim’ll Fixit. Don’t fight it! Drop the pretension, drink up, embrace your inner elf, and before you know it you’ll have forgotten the majestic splendour of the Goldberg Variations or the heartbreaking vocals of Jeff Buckley, and find yourself doing the robot dance to Mel & Kim’s ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’ or beat-boxing your way through a chorus of Gracie Field’s version of ‘Little Donkey’, just like the rest of us.
Christmas music is shallow by design, it requires no deep analysis, in fact, it is ruined if you do. Think of some of the things people do at Christmas – would basting yourself in mince meat and Babycham and then trying not to vomit whilst playing Twister with elderly, flatulent relatives be the same if you were listening to Sigur Rós instead of Shakin’ Stevens? Would you be able to muster even the tiniest glimmer of festive spirit when you’re sat down to Christmas dinner, reading jokes out of a cracker that are so bad even Keith Chegwin wouldn’t steal them, and trying to get the dog to eat your sprouts on the sly when your mum’s not looking, if Radiohead were playing instead of Boney M? Of course not. A good Christmas requires bad music. When it comes to approving a festive tune there are only two simple questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Is this song by Cliff Richard or Chris de Burgh?
If the answer is ‘yes’ then – well, I think it’s fairly obvious what you need to do. Everything has its limits, Christmas included. Some people things are more irritating than a piece of tinsel wrapped tightly round a big, sweaty pair of moolies, and no matter how much cheap sherry you throw down your throat, NOTHING is going to wipe away the greasy smugness of these songs and make them bearable.
2. Would a herd of cows enjoy me singing this to them, first thing in the morning?
You look a bit
scared confused… let me explain:
If you live in a predominantly rural area, as I do, you’ll be sharing your environment with various livestock, which you are likely to encounter when you least expect it. Unspoken countryside etiquette dictates that it is only polite to greet your fellow dwellers in an agreeable manner. If you are on foot this might take the form of doffing your cap and bidding them a good morning. If you’re ME it involves opening the car window and shouting ‘HULLO, COWS!’ and then launching into a chorus of ‘Good Morning Starshine’. The cows love this! Once it gets to yuletide, it is only a fitting and a gesture of goodwill to offer them a selection of festive tunes to start their ruminative day. After all, there were cows in that stable in Bethlehem – Christmas is not just for humans. So, if you start to sing ‘Little Saint Nick’ by the Beach Boys and it falls flat (which it always will, because it sounds like it’s being sung in HAWAII, not Lapland, and is the least Christmassy song EVER!) then you know you can class it as ‘Eggnoxious’ or ‘Amehzing’ and need never sully a cows ears with such rubbish again. If, on the other hand, you decide to give them a blast of ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas’ by Eels and they look like they’re chewing in time with you and don’t do any big, steamy cow pats – then you know it’s a winner! Add it to your iPod and ‘Crimbolicious <3’ playlist on Spotify IMMEDIATELY.
I promise you, this method is fail-proof. You can even do it all year round, with every day music, although personally I don’t, because cows aren’t the boss of me. If you’re a city dweller you could find the lack of cows a bit of a stumbling block. I don’t really know what to suggest… squirrels, maybe? If you’re serious about Christmas music you should probably think about moving to the countryside.
Actually, there is one last way of categorising Christmas songs, but it’s very basic and not half as much fun as serenading cows in a frost-bitten field. All you need to do is sing the song in question out loud, three times. If you get bored by the second time around then it is not a good Christmas song. If it didn’t fill your heart with joy or make you dream of snowflakes on Schnitzel and mittens on kittens, or something, then let it go, it’s not the Christmas song for you. If it made you physically vomit in your mouth and/or want to maim everyone within a 10 mile radius with a turkey drumstick – please could you send it to Sir Cliff’s record label. Thanks.