Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Holiday Songs

December is upon us, and the first snow has hit the ground here in Chicago. The only things that keep me on the level during December's first cold spells are whiskey and holiday songs and clown porn. Call me a sap, but I could listen to Christmas carols or that one song about Chanukah over and over again, especially if its while sipping on a Glen (anyone of the Glens will do, as long as it's not a blend) and watching a big-chested rodeo clown expose herself after a series of innuendo-laden encounters with a male co-worker.

But I digress. There are some great holiday songs out there, from The King to The Boss to The Chipmunks. I have previously sung the praises of the seminal Christmas album, A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector, and the list below evinces that praise, with top two songs coming from that album. Before Phil Spector was killing B-List actresses -- and even before he was holding loved ones hostage, ruining Beatles albums, or pointing guns at Ramones -- he was arguably the greatest record producer of all-time, and A Christmas Gift is no exception. Hell, it's ranked as the #142 album of all-time on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time. Seriously, if you don't have it, get it. You won't be sorry.

But enough about Phil Spector, here is my list (with a mix tape of the songs following, so that you have a sweet holiday mix to listen to while you're at work):

10 (tie). "Santa's Beard" by The Beach Boys. I picture the kid in this song to be kind of like Tweak in South Park -- completely neurotic and apprehensive of everything, but focusing all that energy on determining whether the Santa at the mall is the real Santa. And when he finds out the dude's beard is fake, he tells himself that the dude is just helping the real Santa, somehow convincing himself that the minty smell on the dude's breath is candy canes, rather than Dr. McGillicuddy's. Ahh, the innocence of youth.

10 (tie). "Run Rudolph Run" by Chuck Berry. A great, uptempo, catchy holiday song by one of the all-time greats.

9. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Al Hirt and Ann-Margaret. Frankly any version I've heard is good. This just happens to be the one that I have. You have to give props to a song that is so obviously about date rape, but is also so openly accepted by mainstream, non-date-raping society. In case you don't know the premise of the song, it's about some dude (the part was originally called "Wolf") who managed to convince some chick (the part was originally called "Mouse") to come over to his date-rape-ready bachelor pad on a cold winter's night.

Her: "I should get going. My parents are probably worried."
Him: "Oooh, I don't know about that. It's pretty chilly out there, baby. I got an idea. How about you stay here?"
Her: "I shouldn't."
Him: "He's a drink."
Her: "Fine. One drink. Then I gotta go."
Him: "Sure, whatever, baby. Your eyes are beautiful, you know that?"
Her: "Damn, this is strong. What's in this?"
Him: "Rohypnal, bitch."
Her: "What was that?"
Him: "Just some spiced rum, cinnamon, and a little bit of nutmeg, but not too much because you don't want it to be overpowering. Can I take your hat?"
Her: "No."
Him: "You're hurting my pride, and frankly I don't see the sense in it."
Her: "Fine. Here."
Him: "You do know it's still cold out there, right baby? No cabs in these parts, and I'm too hammered to drive you home."
Her: "Why are you moving closer to me?"
Him: "Because your lips look so delicious, baby."
Her: "Are you kidding me? And can you stop calling me baby?"
Him: "No and no. Have you seen that blizzard out there, baby? Here's a half a drink more."
Her: "Thanks, but I really should be going. My siblings and maiden aunt will be up waiting for me, and Lord knows what the neighbors will think if I come traipsing out of here in the morning."
Him: "Do you realize how guilty I would feel if you caught pneumonia and died out there, all because I wasn't forthright enough to physically restrain you from leaving my apartment?"
Her: "I'm leaving."
Him: "Fine. Go."
Her: "Shit, you were right. It is cold outside."
Him: "That's what I've been trying to tell you, baby."
Her: "Look, alright, I'll stay here, even though I shouldn't. But no funny stuff."
Him: "I knew you'd come around."
Her: "Is it warm in here?"
Him: "I'll make it worth your while, baby."
Her: "No, seriously, it's . . . really . . . warm . . . in--"
Him: "Yes, it is warm in here, especially compared to outside, where it's cold, baby."
Her: "I . . . can't . . . seem . . . to . . . keep . . . my . . . eyes . . . o . . ."


8. "Please Come Home For Christmas" by Charles Brown. Back in 1960, future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Brown released this song, which is kind of like a bluesier, male version of Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," although released three years before the Phil Spector Christmas album. The song has since been covered by the likes of The Eagles and Bon Jovi, although no cover is as good as the original.

7. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee. Sometimes I pretend that when she says "Maybe we'll have some pumpkin pie," she's really saying "Maybe we'll have some fuckin' pie," 'cause that's kind of what it sounds like, and that would be naughty.

6. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" by Bruce Springsteen. The Boss released this in 1981, and, as far as I know, it became an instant holiday classic. You'll notice that he based his version in part on The Crystals' version from the Phil Spector album. I'm just sayin'.

5. "The Chanukah Song" by Adam Sandler. Although rife with inaccuracies (Harrison Ford is half Jewish, not a quarter), this song is a classic. Who can forget the first time they heard the line "OJ Simpson . . . not a Jew"?

4. "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey. Sure, it's cheesy, but damn is it catchy and upbeat. If you've ever been to a Holiday Extravaganza Party at The Pound (or possibly the now-defunct Skybox), then you have experienced the power of "All I Want for Christmas is You" on repeat. If there's one thing that last year's Extravaganza taught me, it's that it's okay to embrace this song.

3. "The Chipmunk Song (Please Christmas Don't Be Late)" by The Chipmunks. I can't give you a rational reason as to why I love this song. Perhaps it's because that Alvin is just so incorrigible! Or maybe it's because I used to freak my roommates out when I'd sing it. Granted, I was holding a knife and blocking the door, but I felt like we really connected over the course of those three days. I still haven't received my plane that loops the loop, Jeremy.

2. "Sleigh Ride" by The Ronettes. I think Ronnie Spector (nee Bennett) has one of the best voices in rock and roll history, and I love the Ronettes' version of this song.

1. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love. From the booming, soulful vocals, to the Wall of Sound accompaniment, to the pleading in the lyrics, this song is simply awesome.

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Other songs that barely missed the cut include: "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms; "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley; "White Christmas" by Darlene Love; "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter; "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano; "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and The Plastic Ono Band; "Winter Wonderland" by Darlene Love; "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by The Ronettes; "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" by The Jackson Five.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How the hell did you miss Last Christmas, Wham? Combine the cheesy lyrics, unforgettable cover art, and ridiculously long Wikipedia entry,(see link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Christmas) and you have yourself a top 10 Christmas song.