Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best.....and Worst Christmas Songs

This year, seemingly more then ever before, has seen an abundance of Christmas music blaring from our radios. More and more staions have switched to the "Holiday Format", some earlier then ever, and with good reason: ratings just about double.

Here in the Fiddlesticks Estate, we've been at full on Holiday mode since the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving was stashed into Tupperware, thus I feel fully qualified to provide yet another in the seemingly endless supply of year-end lists. 

Listed below are My 10 Best, and 5 Worst Christmas songs.  The formula used for inclusion on the list went as follows:

{Lack of obscurity} x {frequency of hearing} / {personal level of annoyance}

It didn't seem fair to lump some of the older ones in with the more contemporary songs when compiling the "Best" list, so it's been divided into two divisions: Classic (pretty much pre-1964) and Contemporary (afterwards).  The worst, by contrast, are placed in one, heaping, steaming pile, and weren't even numbered in a countdown format.  There is no point, since the ranking of 1-5 can differ in my head often enough that whatever one currently playying usually grabs the top (or bottom) spot.  It also goes without saying that this list is solely the my opinion, and your mileage may vary.  On to the list:

Best - Classics Division

5. "I'll Be Home For Christmas", Frank Sinatra
No list would be complete with Frank, and this is his best.  Nobody could hold a note and stretch it out like Sinatra, and this is worth it just to hear the way he croons "...Youuuuu can couunnnnnt on meeee"

4. "Mele Kalikimaka", Bing Crosby
What, not "White Christmas"?  Nope, this quirky song about celebrating Christmas in the Pacific, pre-Hawaiian statehood, strikes just the right blend of old school weirdness and Der Bingle's baritone bellowing.

3. "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer", Gene Autry
The orginal, and still the best.

2. "Sleigh Ride (Instrumental), Various
No lyrics are needed to get the spirit of the season started.  Bonus points for the versions which include the whinny-ing horse sound effect at the end.  Impossible to hear this and not want to trim a tree or eat some pumpkin pie.

1. "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year", Andy Williams
It simply ain't Christmas around here without this one.  In fact, just about any song from The Andy Williams Christmas Album could have been chosen as #1.  Going with this one for the great energetic arrangement and the overall feeling it provokes.  Try and listen to this and not be excited for Christmas.  No, go ahead.

Best - Contemporary Division

5. "Little St. Nick", The Beach Boys
Points here for the simple fact that Brian Wilson wrote a Chiristmas song that didn't involve "Surfin' Santa", or Rudolph catching a wave.  The signature sound of the group is apparant from the second the vocals kick in, and the song is short and catchy as hell.

4. "Another Christmas Song", Steven Colbert
Cobert expertly mocks the concept of starts cashing in by perfroming a holiday song perfectly.  Funny as hell, and best heard while watching the accompanying video, shown below.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
A Colbert Christmas: Another Christmas Song
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

3. "O Holy Night", Josh Groban
Speaking of holding notes, young Mr. Groban can extend a lyric with the best of them, and he makes it seem so effortless.  This is a perfect combination of a sweeping, epic song with the perfectly suited voice.

2. "Jingle Bell Rock", Hall and Oates
I chose this one over the original for two reasons.  One, Daryl Hall is a much better vocalist, and hits just the right tone here, and Two, the backing band led by G.E. Smith is as tight as a drum.  Enjoy it despite the cheesy awfulness of the video:

1. "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo", Trans-Siberian Orchestra
It's odd, because I was never a big Prog-rock fan, but talk about Epic!  This is the angriest, awesomest, rocking-ist, most epic, bombastic holiday song of them all.  Anytime you can hear a Christmas song and want to scream "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!" at the top of your lungs and maybe break something afterwards, well, you've earned my vote.   Bonus: the light display set to this song is one of the coolest things you will ever see:

The Worst
In no particular order, as garbage tends to pile up.

"Grandma Got Runover By A Reindeer", Elmo and Patsy
See, it's funny because they're rednecks and the lady was kinda drunk and the reindeer didn't see her and now she's dead and Grandpa is too old/senile/indifferent to notice.  Ha!

"Christmas Shoes", NewSong
So many things are wrong with this load of manipulative heart tugger, but I really can't say it any better than Patton Oswalt:

"Wonderful Christmastime", Paul McCartney
It can't be easy being Sir Paul, what with being a legend before your 30th birthday.  Anything you do after that will always be compared to what you did before, and when you were half of perhaps the greatest songwriting team, well, ever, it can be a rough go.  Writing a Christmas song, however, ups the ante, as you know it will be played ad nauseum for a solid month every year.  Knowing all that, what in the hell posessed Macca to write this throwaway?  It sounds like the lyrics were improvised during the recording session, and that squeaky cheeseball synth riff is the stuff of nightmares.  Pathetic.

"Baby It's Cold Outside", any pairing
Technically not even a Christmas song, just a Date Rape Anthem which happens to take place on a cold evening.  It doesn't matter who gets paired up to sing this, it always comes out as just plain creepy, however the ultra-creepiest version is from the Elf soundtrack, performed by Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel.  Think about it, when they recorded this in 2002, Redbone was pushing 60 while Zooey was all of 22.  Please stay, he seems to be telling her, because who else can get me my Metamucil?

"Snoopy's Christmas", The Royal Guardsmen
As I get older, I'm really failing to understand exactly what is was about "Peanuts" that was so appealing.  Don't believe me?  Try watching one of the specials today, then, look for the jokes.  Not only are they not funny, they're sad.  It is the most depressing crap I've ever seen - a miserable main character surrounded by mean, crazy, or stupid people.  The highlights, it seems, were the Snoopy and Woodstock segments, which is what makes this attempt to cash in by someone called the Royal Guardsmen all the more depressing.  Snoopy's Red Baron fantasy sequences were somewhat interesting, but trying to make them into a Christmas song where the main message amounts to "Hey, enemy, I would have killed you today but since it's Christmas I'll let you live!  Merry Christmas, my friend!"  Layer that warm message over some by-the-numbers late 60's instrumentation and you've got yourself a "winner".

Happy Holidays to all, and remember, once December 26th arrives these stations will all revert to whatever bland format they adhere to the other eleven months of the year.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Episode 12: Woodpeckers and Slippery Eels

Join our hero as he continues his fight against some really stupid pests, rails against a populist know-it-all, realizes for once that he put his money where his mouth was, then relays two disturbing news stories, each regarding uncomfortable activity in the nether regions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Episode 11: A Very Special Episode

Join your host in a remembrance of 9/11 as he recalls his personal experiences, sees the web come of age, gets a one time instruction from his wife, doubts the truthers, and finds a reason to hate Major League Baseball.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Episode 10: The Dirtiest Decade

Join our hero as he weathers the wrath of nature, explains the dirty, dirty decade that was the seventies, reveals yet another difference between men and women, cringes about what was found in a swanky hotel, and realizes what the most difficult job in TV is.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Episode 9: Caught Air Drumming

Back after yet another extended hiatus, our hero returns with a vengance by slamming Yoko, scratching his head about people who don't understand The Onion, describes getting busted for air drumming, his hatred of the floor waterer, has a sad for an aborted hot tub three way, and hones his poverty detector.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Episode 8: I Said Good Day, Sir!

Back after a brief hiatus, our hero hits the ground running with advice for newly-free Casey Anthony, wonders why the port-o-john peeper didn't stick with Google, relays why it's a good idea to wipe away your IT guy's access like, now, warns about what you may find in murky pool water, and has a party in his mouth like it's 1898.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Episode 7: Really, Japan?

Our hero combs the Interwebs for weird stories, and the Net comes through in spades. Join him as he finds an exception to his aforementioned hitchhiker rule, discovers one man who severely overestimates the power of his badge, runs across a new product from Japan which no man should ever want, and finds some Japanese scientists who've created something even less appetizing than Soylent Green.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Episode 6: You're cute, have a kidney

Where our hero sings the praises of cheap beer and the Golden Age of drunk driving, reveals the real reason behind his decision to become an organ donor, and welcomes another summer filled with carnies.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Episode 5: Apocalypse Not

Special post-Non-apocalypse episode, where our hero gives some free PR advice to Harold Camping, worries that another nutjob might finally get a smackdown, explains why we don't see hitchhikers anymore, and remembers the Macho Man.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Episode 4: Grow Old With Me

The 4th edition of the show, where our hero muses on a Bin Laden-free world, Facebook cocktail parties, ponders why Major Nelson didn't cash in his opportunities, realizes he's in a advanced stage of middle age, and rants against the back-in guy. Also, we're now on iTunes!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Podcast Number 3 is here...

The End Is Near!

It's the end of the world as we know it, and our hero doesn't feel fine at all. Why? First, one certain product exists. Second, a certain person hasn't gone away yet, while others just bother him. Third, some guys have a website which says our time is almost up.

Enjoy Episode 3 right here, right now, before it's too late.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Podcast? Podcast!

It's finally here, the first Excellency Fiddlesticks Podcast! I kept it short and sweet (about 18 minutes), no bells or whistles. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stay tuned....

....big announcement:

For those of you who constantly wonder to yourselves "What does the author of this site actually sound like, and how can that sound be audibly communicated to me via thoughts, musings, and anecdotes?", well, take heart. Your wait is almost over....

For today, it is announced....the introduction of The EFCast!

Stay tuned here for the first installment, which should be up in a day or three.