Three ways to save Christmas (music)
Every season, once Thanksgiving is in the books (and sometimes earlier, god forbid) and the shopping frenzy begins in earnest, my most-hated time of the year comes around: Christmas music season. See, I don't hate Christmas, per se -- I'm no Scrooge. I just despise Christmas music with a passion reserved for few other things.
"Ho ho holy crap, do I hate Christmas music"
And why shouldn't I? Once you strip away all the bullshit excuses like "tradition" and "good will toward man," you have a bunch of shmaltzy, tired songs that weren't particularly good when they were rolled out in our grandparents' time, being played over and over again like a domestic edition of the audio torture inflicted at Abu Ghraib and whatever east European shithole country the CIA is currently using to host its secret prisons. But in the spirit of giving, and because my plot to destroy every existent copy of recorded Christmas music failed miserably, here are three suggestions to keep me, and the millions like me who similarly hate it, sane this holiday season, and in years to come.
Start it later - As mentioned, the yearly grind of "Oh, Tannebaum" and "Have a Holy Jolly Christmas" starts every year right around Thanksgiving. That's thirty or so days of excruciating cheese, played 24-7 in every store you go in, most radio stations and in every third commercial on TV. Overkill, much? Twelve days of Christmas is plenty -- more than plenty -- so let's just mandate that Christmas music not make an appearance before December 14, under any circumstance, punishable by FCC fines of up to $50,000 and being put on Santa's naughty list. Frankly, it's still twelve days too many, but I am a reasonable man, willing to compromise. Besides, if you need more, it's not like it's hard to load up the iPod with thirty gigs of "Jingle Bells." That way, you're only hurting yourself, and I can live with that.
New material* - Look, I understand that for the Christian and capitalist majorities in this country it doesn't get much more important than the annual celebration of the birth of the savior/orgy of consumerism. And like all important events, it deserves to be celebrated in song. But as we pointed out earlier, how about a few new ones, since even though I despise Christmas music and avoid it as much as possible I can still sing almost every single song that comes on the radio? I call for a new tradition, wherein songwriters with an inclination write (and give away free, to reduce the incidence of cheesy, cash-in bullshit and to celebrate the season) new Christmas tunes every year, expanding the canon and, at very least, torturing us with new, terrible tunes each year. I'm sure 99 percent would be total ass, but I'm also sure every couple of years we'd get a genuine decent tune out of it. That would at least make it possible to get a nice surprise every few season, "Hey! This song isn't putrid! Merry Christmas to all, indeed!"
Failing that, cover tunes* - Okay, I guess the tradition and the fact that everyone can (and does) sing along is part of the "fun." So to keep it semi-traditional while not making me weep in agony for a month each year, what if we ask contemporary artists to tackle old favorites in new styles? If I'm going to hear "White Christmas" for the six billionth time, at least let it be a new take on it by Taylor Swift. I'm sure the vast majority of these would be just as bad, if not worse, but at very least it would contribute a few awesome WTF moments each year, which never fails to put a smile on my face. And again, wouldn't the once-a-year surprise gem make it all worthwhile?
That's it. Merry Christmas, and if you show up at my house singing carols, expect to get the hose. I am not even kidding.
* I realize that there are new songs and covers by contemporary artists released every year, but if I want more, and I want them to get the majority of the air time. If I am going to be tortured by horrible, overly sentimental slop every year, I want new horrible overly sentimental slop.