The Pop Grumble – Christmas Songs

mariah christmas

Teoh Lander-Boyce

Struggling to make it as a musician, Teoh turned to pop journalism to quench his thirst for music. Unfortunately it's reinforced his cynicism, inflated opinions and sense of entitlement. He's recorded at Abbey Road Studios and made heaps of angry YouTube videos. Beware: articles may contain attempts at wit. @mrtinoforever

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Call me The Grinch all you like, but on a whole, I’m not a massive fan of Christmas. And it’s not for lack of trying. Usually I get into it the week before, but I simply can’t comprehend how exciting some people find it – to the point where they’re talking about it three months before. “Ohhh I can’t wait,” they grin, “What will you be doing?” they interrogate.

Yes, it’s a special day where you have great food, share presents and hopefully see all the people you love. That’s definitely something to look forward to. But, how I’ve always seen it, it’s no greater than a crazy Saturday night out with a group of bezzies, or your best friend’s birthday, or a dinner date with your boyfriend.

I know that Christmas-lovers have heard this argument from Scrooges before, and I don’t want to dampen your fun just because I don’t get it. However, I want you to try and adopt my mindset when it comes to understanding  the full extent of my pain with Christmas songs.

Sometimes there are songs that are so well written, melodic or heart-felt that you can forgive them for their one-dimensional consumerist theme. Songs such as ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ by Mariah Carey is such a belter that it’s become a staple of Christmas. And it doesn’t annoy me because I respect it for what it is – a bloody good song. But out of the endless sea of Christmas songs, I could probably count on one hand the ones I really enjoy.

Otherwise, they’re feeble attempts by artists to cash-in on a day that is meant to represent family, love and caring for one another (well, unless you’re religious – then it’s about ‘Jesus’ or somebody astral, that deity-thing we can’t see, right?) These songs never say anything much, they never mean anything much, yet they’re fully embraced by Western society and, from the 1st of November, crammed down our throats in every shop we wander into, y’know, just to “get us in the mood.”

Bands can get away with mediocre song writing, just because of its theme – and “everyone loves Christmas,” don’t they? Ironically, these songs will sell better than anything else in their career, because each December they’re guaranteed radio play, to be included on a Crimbo Compilations CD, or some squeaky-clean popstar, who’s trying to raise his profile, will cover their unimaginative, meaningless drivel, because they can’t be bothered to write some of their own mindless piss-easy crap.

Also, a lot of Christmas songs are actually covers. Covers of merry little jingles and hymns, that an artist suddenly decides they want to do it in ‘their style.’ Before you know it, your average cute nursery-rhyme-like melody has been bastardised to accommodate a whiney, self-indulgent vocal or a distorted guitar or a club beat. What could be worse than club beat Christmas? I’m now having visions of being in G-A-Y Heaven on Christmas Eve, and hearing the DJ mix “Someone Like You” by Adele into “Jingle Bells” the David Guetta ft. Will.I.Am Remastered Super-Mega-Christmas-Alert Remix, and it’s making me gag.

Now maybe I’m using a lot of hyperbole, maybe I’m being over-dramatic, but I wasn’t kidding about Christmas songs starting on November 1st. I work in retail, and almost every day for the last six weeks I’ve heard the following songs at least twice. And to me, these following songs are the biggest offenders. They’re unnecessary. They’re meaningless. They’re annoying.

5. “Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” by The Eels

There’s a certain smugness that I hate with songs like this, a smugness that says “oh, you’ll enjoy it,” “come on Teoh, where’s your Christmas spirit?” I mean, he starts the song off by reminding you how crap last year was, then attempts to assure you that it’ll be alright this year because it’ll be ‘cool’. Cool? In what sense? “Oh yeah man, my Christmas was so cool dude, Mum bought me a bong and we just blazed it up man, it was so cool.” Cool is not a word you use to describe Christmas. No amount of “yuletide groove” is going to get me “to move.”

4. “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” by Miley Cyrus

Listening back to old Miley Cyrus songs, you sort of understand why she’s gone a bit mental this year and begun to denounce everything she once represented. This cover of “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” sounds like Miley Cyrus parodying Miley Cyrus. In fact, it sounds shockingly similar to the theme music of Kristen Wiig’s SNL parody of Miley Cyrus. Whenever anyone tries to make a song ‘rocking’ and ‘punk’ and ‘woo’ and ‘yeah’ it just cheapens rock music in general. I wish they would stop. Every time she sings “you will get a sentimental feeling,” my skin crawls. So lacklustre and nasal, why? Just why?

3. “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay

This is a good example of a Christmas song that a lot of people would say is meaningful and well-written. Well is it? Lets try to be subjective. First, remove your personal opinions of Coldplay’s music and then put it into context against other Coldplay songs. Whether you like them or not, I’m sure you know about five of their songs, all of which are either catchy or cleverly written. I don’t particularly like Coldplay much, but the songs I do know by them get stuck in my head for a reason. However, this is more like one of their bland album tracks that everyone skips over. Cliché ridden, Oxford Street name-dropping and completely faux-sentimental in nature. It makes me want to cry for all the wrong reasons.

2. “Last Christmas” by Cascada

I’m still struggling to figure out who actually really likes Cascada. I mean, I know some people do, but I always thought that they were just joking, or maybe such big fans of club music that it doesn’t matter who the artist is, just as long as the beat keeps going. But there are people who think she’s great. Like, actually a really good musician. I don’t. I think she’s just a female voice that’s thrown over really formulaic and predictable club beats. With that in mind, this is her cover of “Last Christmas”. It’s just an excuse for a club beat. All meaning from the original song is stripped. She can’t even be bothered in the video, she spends half of the video looking at the floor or pretending she’s getting into the words. It’s horrific.

1. “A DC Christmas Melody” by Destiny’s Child

I just, I can’t. I don’t understand. To me, it seems like an excuse for Beyonce to show off her voice. It’s like someone outside the studio held up key cards with the name of different Christmas songs and they quickly improvised the melody over a basic ghetto beat. And what is with that beat? When it comes to Christmas songs, I hate it when artists attempt to incorporate their genre into the song, but this has to be the worst example. Beyonce seems turned on by the notion of Santa Claus “coming to town” and Kelly wants to share Frosty the Snowman’s pipe.

I’m finding it hard to put into words how much this song irritates me, because I’ve heard it so many times now, that I just want it to stop. Sometimes I have to leave the shop floor when it’s on. I go and sit in the back, cradle myself and pray that it’s only played once during my shift.

christmas scrooge cat

There are more Christmas songs, I’m sure, that make me want to die, but I suppose I should be thankful that, for now, it’s only these ones I’m submitted to. Soon, Christmas will be over, and I won’t hear these songs for another ten months, and I suppose that’s something for me to look forward to. But realistically, I should be able to live in a world where I wouldn’t have to hear any of these songs ever again. After all, that’s all I want for Christmas, so why don’t I get what I want?

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