Day Seventeen: Holiday Music, or: I ♥ Johnny Mathis

Not sure how much time I’ll have to write today, but for the time we have, our theme is Holiday Music.  I have strong, specific feelings about what makes a good Christmas song.  You want your Andy Williams, your Burl Ives, your Firestone Christmas Albums. You do not want Celine Dion, Josh Groban, or the cast of Glee.  Below are some general guidelines for holiday music.

    1. Absolutely nothing written before, say, 1950.  “White Christmas”, good.  “Last Christmas”, bad. Exception: this song. (I’m so embarrassed to like this I won’t even write the name.)
    2. Nothing by crooners who are alive (or as least, less than 80 years old).  Mel Torme, good. Michael Bublé, bad.  Exception: Harry Connick, Jr.
    3. Positively NO NOVELTY songs.  This includes The Chipmunks, and “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”.  But not “The Hanukkah Song”.
    4. No weird arty or “modern” instrumental renditions (Tran Siberian Orchestra, Gary Hoey).  Exception: the occasional Trans Siberian Orchestra or Gary Hoey song.  (Hey, I never said I was consistent.)
    5. No religious songs by any member of the Rat Pack.  I’m sorry Dean Martin —  “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is very you.  “Oh Holy Night”, not so much.  And Frank Sinatra clearly doesn’t care if I have a merry Christmas or drop dead, so “Joy to the World” coming from him is a little rich.  I can’t even think of an exception.
    6. No “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”  I’m sad to remove this song from my canon.  I am an 80’s music lover (because as we all know I love terrible things).  I can still name who sings each line of the song, just based on the sound of their voice.  BUT.  While it may be a well-intentioned little tune that raised millions for a worthy cause, it is one of the most ignorant, paternalistic pieces of dreck ever written by a smug white guy thinking he’s a great humanitarian.  Consider for a moment:
      “Where nothing ever grows
      No rain or rivers flow
      Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?”

      Seriously, Bob Geldof?  Do you really believe people are stupid enough to live in a place where NOTHING EVER GROWS?  Like, these poor idiots moved to the middle of a desert for the ambiance and forgot to bring the Christmas ham?  Oh wait, except they don’t even KNOW it’s Christmas.  I guess they forgot their calendars, too.  Look, I know Wikipedia didn’t exist in 1985, but do 10 minutes of research before you suggest that the people you’re trying to help are morons who don’t understand the concept of agriculture, or didn’t have a thriving Christian culture when your forebears were still worshiping trees. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
      Sorry.  Clearly I can rant about anything.

    7. Anything at all by Johnny Mathis.  Even “Misty” is acceptable.  But especially anything off this album:
      Johnny Mathis, Merry Christmas
      and especially especially this number one best rendition of the number one best Christmas song all-time, ever:
      There’s no such thing as a bad Johnny Mathis Christmas Song, so I’ll just throw in his rendition of “Feelings”. 
    8. Oh God, I just remembered Mannheim Steamroller.  They’re horrible.
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