Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Random Thoughts, Vol. 4: My Million-Dollar (Christmas) Idea/Requiem for a Band Aid Song

Five words: A Schlock and Roll Christmas.

I love schlocky Christmas songs of the modern rock and roll era and I’ve always wanted to see a compilation that brings them all together in a mix of humor, warmth, and cheesy production values. The chief contenders/offenders would have to include:

  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid (1984)
  • “Thank God It’s Christmas” by Queen (1984)
  • “Please Come Home for Christmas” by the Eagles (1978)
  • “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by the Jackson 5 (1970)
  • “Last Christmas” by Wham! (1984)
  • “Christmas Time Is Here” by Ray Parker Jr. (1984)
  • “Must Be Christmas” by the Band (1975)
  • “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. (1987)
  • “Christmas All Over Again” by Tom Petty (1992)
  • “Winter Symphony” by the Beach Boys (1977)
  • “Pretty Paper” by Roy Orbison (1963)
  • “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses (1981)
  • “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney (1979)
  • “If Every Day Was Like Christmas” by Elvis Presley (1966)
  • “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie & Bing Crosby (1982)
  • “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon (1971)

As for the running order, there would only have to be two specifications: “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” would have to be the last song. And “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” would have to be the first.

Now, I love “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and was touched to see people rush to its defense when I included it on my list of the worst Christmas songs of all-time. The song has always been a guilty pleasure for me, somewhere between my Monkees CDs and Doctor Demento singles, and I included it on the worst list because it felt like the better fit – after all, it was the things that were so wrong about the song that made me love it all the more.

It’s like, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is like George Washington: Perfect, regal, and distant, something that can only be marveled at from afar. But “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is like John Adams: Flawed, imperfect, and human, something that tells us far more about ourselves. I mean, who would you rather have a beer with: George Washington or John Adams? Everyone knows that George Washington would be all intimidating and quiet right off the bat, while John Adams would make fun of the ugly waitress before she was even out of earshot.

Thus, I would much rather listen to “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” than “White Christmas.” It’s a fascinating record with numerous elements that should work against it – a baffling structure, overwrought lyrics, and cheesy production values – but somehow manages to hold together and deliver its unique impact. (Its film equivalent would be another artifact that begins with death, basks in weird extremes, and ends with Christmas: Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter. But I digress.)

Although I do still stand by statement that “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you” is the cruelest line I’ve ever heard in a Christmas song.

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