Chaos Attraction

Holiday Music Fun

2003-12-22, 5:40 p.m.

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Just for fun, I figured I'd finish up the series with some related entertainment:

* Before seeing Love Actually, I had no idea Britain had a top Christmas hit contest. (Note that the winning song from the movie is alas, only #5.) This bit, however, I naturally found sad:

"As a rule, Americans don't listen to new Christmas fare: We're too busy roasting the same musical chestnuts that artists like Bing Crosby ("White Christmas"), Nat King Cole ("The Christmas Song") or Elvis Presley ("Blue Christmas") served up decades ago.

"I don't see any real logical reason why somebody couldn't come up with a song now that is as good for our times as 'White Christmas' was for the '40s," says Dr. Demento, the popular radio host.

But it hasn't happened.

And it puzzles everyone in the music business. Plenty of artists record new holiday songs, sandwiching them between the obligatory "Silent Nights" and "Joy to the Worlds."

This year alone, you'll find more than a dozen major examples, from country crooner Kenny Chesney's "All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan" to R&B diva Whitney Houston's "One Wish (for Christmas)." Even acts like Jethro Tull and the Moody Blues are peddling their 21st-Century equivalent of "Jingle Bells."

But radio stations generally shy away from Christmas songs written after the early '70s. When ASCAP, the music-publishing service, took a survey last year of the 25 most-performed holiday songs, the most recent example was Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" from 1970 -- and it didn't crack the Top 10.

Perhaps if the list were extended further, you'd find John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" and the famine relief-inspired "Do They Know It's Christmas?" a star-studded effort that climbed both the British and American charts in 1984.

But if you can name another new tune beyond that, it's probably a novelty number.

Even if record labels could extend the holiday musical season to early November, much as retailers are trying to do with the shopping season, it wouldn't matter much. The record-buying audience is too divided among genres -- rock, hip-hop, country, etc. -- to embrace a tune en masse.

"Writing a standard is impossible now," says David McLees, a senior vice president with Rhino Entertainment, the musical giant. "Britney Spears' audience wants one thing. Ludacris' wants something else."

There is one exception: If the song sports a sense of sarcasm and ironic detachment. The biggest addition to the holiday canon in the last 25 years is -- what else? -- that quirky Elmo and Patsy tune "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

* Little Drummer Boy is the worst carol. I can't argue a bit with that one. I really hate that song, it's ba-rum-pa-pum-dumb.

* TeeVee came up with a fun Christmas music mix. NPR has some good mixes too.

* 3WA comes up with sexy holiday parodies. Ooh la la!

Just an FYI...because given this series, I had to wonder...

Jingle Bells
You are 'Jingle Bells'! Full of enthusiasm and
good cheer, you are excited by the first
appearances of Christmas decorations in shops
and have been heard singing along to the piped
music. Your attitude to Christmas is one of
childlike delight - with a slightly mercenary
streak. You definitely believe in Santa (you
get more presents that way) and will put up
your Christmas tree as early as possible. You
really like carolling, and presents, and mince
pies, and pudding, and will insist on getting
everyone up at dawn to open presents
immediately. So long as the food and presents
are good, you will have a great Christmas.

What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

And finally, I'd like to leave you with my own parody, a very uh, special one.

Twas Nine Days Before Christmas:

a scary little poem based on "Season's Greetings To Our Friends And Family!!!" by David Sedaris.

(With apologies to Clement Moore and David Sedaris)

Twas nine days before Christmas, and all through the house,

I'd got nothing done, thanks to Khe Sahn the louse

And my grandson, baby Satan, who we all called Don,

Whose mother was off in crack rehab and gone.

He never did nestle, but just screamed and screamed,

24-7, like you wouldn't believe

And between him and Khe Sahn, my husband's bastard child,

Who did no chores, talked dirty, and dressed real wild

And tried to come on to her father and brother,

My brilliant son Kevin, who she wanted for a lover,

She wouldn't learn English, but she just loved money,

I always did think that she acted real funny.

But I needed to shop and I had to get away,

From the screaming and crying all the live long day

And I stupidly thought that if I got her a gift

She'd be willing and capable of mending the rift

So I stupidly left the house that afternoon

To buy presents for all, feeling that soon

Things would be fine while I shopped at White Paw

and they certainly would never end up involving the law!

I came home at four-thirty and knew something was wrong

The house hadn't been that quiet in so very long

I didn't go to look, but went straight to the phone,

called the police, then waited to find out what I'd sown

Khe Sahn wouldn't speak, but just stared at her chest,

She truly was the worst ever house guest

We asked where the baby was, he was not in his bed

and soon we all knew there was something to dread

We searched through the house while she stared into space

and pretended to not understand the facts of the case

We finally found him in our laundry room

where the family dryer had become his tomb.

He'd been through the wash cycle- hot wash and cold rinse

I've never been able to use the thing since.

He died before the spin cycle, that was our one only blessing

since Khe Sahn of course was not up to confessing.

They took her away, and as she drove out of sight,

we could finally grieve on that horrible night.

We thought we'd get justice, but we were surprised,

because at the station Khe Sahn made up lies!

Claiming I'd been the one who'd put Don in the dryer,

that I'd been home killing instead of being a buyer.

And my old neighbor Cherise claims she saw me come back

Through her yard and my door with an empty pack.

And my other neighbors, Chaz Staple and Vivian Taps

Who were home alone together, NOT taking naps,

Claimed they saw me too! Why, the betraying jerks!

I knew they were jealous of my doing good works!

These charges are bogus, and yet I must worry,

My life is at stake, and I've got to hurry

Tell the rest of my family and my true friends,

That if they don't defend me, who knows how this ends?

But until my hearing comes, I'll all wish you well,

Merry Christmas to all, and hope Khe Sahn burns in hell!

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