Saturday, December 22, 2012

Do You Remember Christmas Radio?--Day One

Wherein your humble blogger picks one random over each day for three days, and absorbs the seasonal playlist of Washington DC's soft-rock bastion, 97.1 WASH-FM.

12/19, Wednesday--9:30 PM to 10:30 PM

"Little Drummer Boy," Jackson 5
You know why the Jackson 5 are considered one of the iconic acts in American music history?  Not because of their Christmas songs.  Why is Cookie Monster's nephew on here clearing his throat?  Why is that being passed off as a drum roll effect?  Why change "lamb" to "mule"?  Was that Joe Jackson trying to throw in a passive-aggressive eff-y'all to the establishment?

"White Christmas," Bing Crosby
The biggest-selling single of all-time per the good folks at Guinness, with a tally in excess of fifty million copies.  Thus any radio station worth their Mr. and Mrs. Claus salt 'n pepper shakers will have "White Christmas" on their playlist.

I remember two white Christmases in my entire life, and frankly the whole business is overrated.  I never asked for any presents that required snowfall for maximum enjoyment anyway.

"May all your Christmases be white."  First of all, racist.  Secondly, and less sarcastically, that's just one of those statements it's impossible to get a temperature reading of.  Why would anyone tell anyone else that?  If pressed, could they explain why precisely it's so much better to gaze upon sheets of the gentlest white stuff on one specific day over another?

"Please Come Home For Christmas," Charles Brown
Yep, that's his name.  And truly this song is a real "nothing face."  I think Don Henley was more soulful than this guy.  But fret not, Chuck, you will outpace Jon Bon Jovi in the vocal-vitality department.

"Up On the Housetop," Gene Autry
Ol' Gene sounds like he's fulfilling a contract, but bells and whistles abound like the display window of a mom 'n' pop.

"Happy Holidays," Steve Lawrence and Edyie Gorme
So that's who sings this.  Per my mom, Steve Lawrence just made all the thick cotton panties moist back in the day, although she didn't put it in those exact words.  Edyie comes with the package but she's inconsequential.  In fact, so is this song.  No drama, real or imagined, no abrupt hitches, no opportunities for histrionics among the cast of players, and I swear there's more whistling happening than actual singing.  'Bout as durable as a Dixie Cup.

"The First Noel," Elvis Presley
You know why Elvis is considered one of the iconic acts in American music history?  Jebus, Cletus, can you tame that lip just a smidge?  It's yer friggin' lord and savior yer singing about, not a mangy mutt.

"Merry Christmas Darling," The Carpenters
Heaven is here!  Milk, honey and bacon!  Let us all gather 'round and SHUT UP while one of the true great voices of pop music opens our presents and claims them for herself to zero protest.

Karen relied on vibratos a good deal, but most of the time--and here especially--they are wise and true.  She makes "you" sound like, y'know, you.

"Frosty the Snowman," Beach Boys
Now the Boys generally did Christmas correctly, even penning a couple originals that get play on the radio to this day.  But this timeless classic comes off a lesser tune in the hands of the California boys.  Their clean harmonies go unsteady with the big band shuffle.  It's not unlistenable in the slightest, just unremarkable to extremity.

"Here Comes Santa Claus," Ray Conniff
I much prefer Mitch Miller's vast orchestra of kung fu killers to this claptrap.

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," Perry Como
Who are these uncredited women on backing vox?  Why was this a thing?  They gets no love.  I bet this song sold like chocolate-covered candy canes, but much of that did those poor ladies see?  Yep, barren stockings all 'round that Christmas.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Lou Rawls
Blander than a meal of toast and cranberry juice.  But nowhere near as crumbly or colorful.

Oh no, I hear slap bass.  All these miniature incorrigibles are devilishly constructing a migraine-man in my gourd.  Friggin' kids!  Get off my smooth noodle lawn!

"Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms
Well-voiced to the point it overwhelms the dispassionate sound behind it all.  I dunno about the wisdom of the unisex chorus to somehow enhance the main vocalist's performance.  'Course I guess you could say having only the one voice is counter to the inclusive spirit of the season.

And I know he didn't do this version, but he did do a version, so ooohhhh maaan I wanna slap Bono with a titanium rod.

"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," The Crystals
Carole King didn't write this one, the Crystals just made it sound that way.  Wicked display window:  toy soldiers painted with loving eyes and patient hands; wide-eyed dolls and their adorable dresses; miniature balls attached to strings of garland; blinking lights burning holes into brains.  I bet the saxophonist was wearing a Santa hat in the studio when he laid that solo down.

"Angels We Have Heard On High," Percy Faith and His Orchestra
A genuinely spiritual song, even sans the lyrics.  See, not everything needs CHOIRS FROM THE BALLS OF CHRIST to make an impact.

"Christmas Auld Lang Syne," Bobby Darin
What in the actual?  Oh how I long for that Dan Fogelberg song about the two alcoholics who used to be in love!  It's just the melody to "Auld Lang Syne" with Christmas-themed lyrics.  It's also garbage.  I would take this song over having my leg chomped off by a shark, but just barely.

How have I never even heard of this song before?  It certainly can't be new, as a cursory check of Mr. Darin's existence status reveals that he has been dead since 1973.  This is weird to me.  I can't think offhand of a Christmas song more pointless.  "Auld Lang Syne" is a fine tune as it is, why you gotta throw it under the tree like that?  And oh, did I just hear our little friend the flute do a little decking of the halls at the end there?  Isn't that just the cutest thing.  Makes me wanna soul-kiss a gingerbread man, it does.

"Sleigh Ride," Andy Williams
The "jing-a-ling jing-jing-a-ling" makes me want to extract each tooth with my own bare, unmoisturized hands .  And it changed keys for pretty much no good reason.  Piss on a puppy, y'all, 'cause Christmas is dead.  I demand a classic, Wash-FM, and I demand it now.

"Christmastime Is Here (instrumental)," Vince Guaraldi Trio
Why, Internet radio, it's like you just heard my plea!  But I was born three decades after the mandatory chip-implantation, so it couldn't be that.

A majestic single from a majestic whole.  I can see the snow falling lightly but insistently.  I can feel the wet flakes tickling my unprotected face.  I can hear the crunch underfoot.  I marvel at my very essence come to life before my eyes.  And on.

"Silver Bells," Dean Martin
Yes, it's old Drunky the Drunk Guy!  (He was damn close to being the Dave Mustaine of the Rat Pack, I should think; surely Jerry Lewis was the Lars Ulrich.)  Dude did not punch up his egg nog with booze, nope, he uppercut that shit.  One sip'll give lesser beings the Romney ringside face.  Unisex choir in attendance to prop Mr. Martin up literally.  Fun stuff.

Stay tuned for day 2, coming tomorrow...

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