Merry Christmas Again From Listening Friday!

It's that time of year again.  It's slightly after Halloween.  The leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and freaking Lowe's already has their inflatable Christmas decorations up for sale.  I'm never sure if it's vogue to complain about the pervasive nature of the commercial Christmas holiday, but at the risk of being gauche- it genuinely seems to be early this year.  There is, in fact, a radio station that has been playing Christmas music since November 1st.  Consider this: already, we've 14 days of Christmas music under our belts and we're not even thawing the Thanksgiving turkey yet, which brings me to my point-

The commercialization of Christmas, the ever-present, ever-increasing monopoly it holds over the November and December is a plot.  It is a cleverly concealed and crafted agenda, put forth by none other than...

I, for one, welcome our new turkey overlords.

So, in traditional Listening Friday fashion we will introduce the "Six Listening Fridays of Christmas" with a farcical entry.

This year, instead of selecting the best worst pieces of Christmas music, I've decided to go with five of the  best worst pieces of Christmas music videos! These are those forgotten gems in the deep recesses of YouTube that everyone who was involved in their creation wishes would remain unearthed like those old E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video games. Meanwhile, the American public sits impatiently until they can wash their ears (and eyes) clean of the dreck and chaos that is the American commercial Christmas*

*Before you go calling blasphemy, in this context I imply a differentiation between the commercial Christmas with elves and trees and Macy's and the Christian Christmas with Jesus and stellar phenomena and farm animals.

So, here they are, in not particular order, the five most popular, wretched videos of Christmas music known to mankind:

#1- Andy Williams - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I like to think that every time we hear Mr. Williams belt out this classic example of Christmas Carol gone crooner he's actually singing it live against a piped-in orchestra in some dark, desolate cave on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.  I also like to think that CIA scientists turned him into a cyborg during the Cold War in an effort to explore the possibility of using the aging population of swing era vocalists as weapons of mass destruction.

You see, the baby boomers in America firmly believe that anything they did in their childhood must be relived again and again in the name of tradition, even especially if that tradition is painfully annoying. Therefore, most of the American population is immune to the destructive nature of this style of music.  The Russians however were not, and the US government knew that.  The problem occurred when the Berlin wall fell and everyone sort of forgot about old Robo-Andy and thus he's condemned to a life of perpetually singing this song in the dark (as evidenced in the video below) and we're forced to listen and reflect on how many of Aunt Ruth's sugar cookies we can eat before we develop holiday-induced diabetes.

#2 Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra was invented to act as a gateway drug for bored kids of the 80's and 90's so they'd think that by learning to play the violin they might actually lose their virginity.  This plan failed miserably and thus a large portion of humanity's genetic pool was erased from existence.

This song of itself is not terribly awful, perhaps only over-played (which is not a crime in and of itself).  The music video however is an altogether different story.  I'll be honest here.  I'm having a hard time of coming up with any way to classify or explain the rationale of what you're about to watch, but if you thought the 80's were weird, the 90's took the cake for cheese and bad clothing. Take elements of post-Cold War era Europe, Bill Clinton, Kittens, Eddie Van Halen, and a poorly supervised child and you just about sum up the 90's.  In that context, this video will most likely be praised centuries later as the most accurate documentation of the rise and fall of Rock and Roll music in Western society.

The plot follows a small child who wanders outside in her backyard in the middle of the night, while the History channel plays in the background.  She discovers the most elaborate middle-class residential Christmas display known to man and disregarding everything she learned in "Stanger-Danger 101" at school proceeds to dance around in what appears to be falling pieces of cotton.  At some point her mother puts down her Redbook and realizes she hasn't seen her 8 year old in the past 3 or 4 days and goes to locate her.  Unfortunately, two small kittens have adopted the child into their pride and she lives out her remaining days on the streets of Manhattan in a sort of Gen X version of the "Jungle Book".  And that, my children, is how "RENT" was born.

#3 Wham!: Last Christmas

Nothing quite says Christmas like unmarried twenty-somethings with enormous hair frolicking around a ski resort like a Guns and Roses Christmas Special.  This video has everything: A flimsy pretext, ambiguous body language, an impossible to understand plot, and forbidden love.  There's also a terrifying dinner scene where, what I can only assume is probably 3 or 4 metric tons of hairspray sits around a table surrounded by candles and a fireplace!  It's like the world's largest potato cannon, poised to launch George Michael all the way back across the Atlantic Ocean.

All kidding aside, what I think most people want during the Christmas holiday is to spend it with family and close friends and secretly wish that your hair looked like this.  Call NASA, because the 80's pop scene already invented anti-gravity.

#4 Paul McCartney: Wonderful Christmas Time

In 1979, Paul McCartney invented chroma-keying, the same technology now used round the world to make weather men appear like giant overlords who control our climate at their whims.  However, Paul originally used this to make it look like his band and piano were zipping through outer space dressed as 70's angels as they recorded yet another holiday classic that would be burned into the American psyche, despite the fact that everyone secretly knew we were only pretending to like post-Beatles McCartney.

What I like about this song is its deliberately shameless and borderline offensive use of the sleigh bells.  Wikipedia explains that Sleigh Bells were invented by Santa Claus himself and given to Beethoven with implicit instructions that use of the sleigh bells in any piece of music would automatically make that piece sound "Christmas-y".

If you watch closely, at one point a large armada of mall Santa's arrive at the bacchanal and appear to burn down the house whereupon Paul and friends continue to dance around the pyre of holiday magic.  Incidentally, this video was originally designed to sell scarves in the southeastern United States, but horribly backfired and instead led to Majorie Kinnan Rawlings inventing the reindeer and requiring the scarf as part of the uniform at Hogwarts' School of Wizardry.  
It's 104°, but dammit if it's not fashionable!

#5 RUN-DMC: Christmas in Hollis

If you were alive in the 1980's, this one will require little introduction.  It hearkens back to the day when hip hop was king and "illin'" was socially appropriate to use as an adverb for just about everything.  The other exciting thing from this era is that no matter how cold it gets, everyone is still required to wear a track suit.

On a somewhat more sobering note, it is a bit remarkable to reflect on the evolution of the hip hop culture from the time of RUN-DMC to present day.  Upon discovering Santa's wallet full of cash, the good Reverend RUN immediately attempts to return it with nary a thought of keeping the old man's money because that would most certainly be "ill".  And when it comes time to sit down to Christmas dinner, we see DMC's mother at the center of the scene with what is almost certain a fake plastic prop turkey and all the trimmings- family comes first in Hollis as evidenced by the young men in the video.

I can't say it any better than they did:

Rhymes so loud and proud to hear it
It's Christmas time and we got the spirit
Jack Frost chillin', the orchid's out,
And that's what Christmas is all about...

We'll continue our series as we count down the Listening Fridays until Christmas.  

See you next Friday.