You know what earworm songs are: songs that stick in your head and replay incessantly in your mind. It doesn’t even have to be the whole song, either. Most people are tormented with just the same line or two, over and over and over. But there are worse things in the world than earworm songs. I didn’t think it possible for a song to out-dread “The Song That Never Ends” (you’re welcome!) but the Christmas season has done the trick. THE ENTIRE SEASON did this to me. Not all Christmas songs, mind you. Just the ones that are sprinkled with aural itching powder.
The store where I currently work has piped-in store music, their own little radio station throughout the grocery chain. It’s bad enough hearing the same store advertisements every half hour, but I never realized how awful it is to hear “Santa Baby” repeatedly by different artists. What is worse, every singer evidently believed SHE was the only singer in the world who could perfect the “cute little sexy kitten” voice, and that particular vocal style was de rigueur in singing the damn thing. Compounding the issue is the fact that in this season of Giving and Gratitude, “Santa Baby” celebrates golddiggers worldwide.
They might want to add a perfectly honest verse, something like:
“Santa Baby, I know I’m a greedy little witch /a bitch/ I only think of myself/ Santa Baby, give me cold hard cash and then get the hell out because I’m shallow like that.”
Yeah, it doesn’t scan. I’d work on that but as I said, I’m tired of the song.
Offender #2 is that classic tune “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s sung by Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey, or Dean Martin & somebody whose voice I don’t recognize – the song irritates me on subject matter alone. Honestly listen to it. It’s a song about date rape. “I’ve got to go home/ oh no don’t leave yet, I haven’t shown you my etchings / my parents are expecting me and you’re starting to sound really creepy / but it’s so cozy right here in my bachelor pad / why can’t you take no for an answer and what have you put in my drink? / Rohypnol FTW!”
Yeah, every time I hear it I want to give Dean Martin a slap, and I liked Deano otherwise.
I grew up on Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and generally like jazz music, but Christmas classics in a jazz vein send me right up the wall. You’re listening along to a recognizable instrumental Christmas song, maybe even singing the words a little, when you slowly start wondering “What in the hell happened to the song?” because inevitably a saxophone or flute or guitar or whatever will go off on a tangent riff. I repeat, I like jazz but if I’m going to listen to it I really don’t want to start out humming along to something I know like “The Little Drummer Boy” and then find myself stuck on the side of the musical road like a dispirited hitchhiker while the guy driving the song goes around the bend and does endless doughnuts and wheelies with it. A few cool riffs would be great but not five solid minutes of the instrumental equivalent of Mariah Carey screwing up the Star Spangled Banner with vocal acrobatics and show-off weird-ass notes that have not a single damn thing to do with the sentiment or theme of the song.
Don’t get me started with show-off divas and their complete screwing up of the National Anthem. You don’t want me going there, not right now. This is about Christmas Earworms.
Of course there are the standard offenders – “Jingle Barks” – three minutes of dogs barking to ‘Jingle Bells’ will make you want to volunteer to spay and neuter Bob Barker and every dog you see – “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” – Hardy-har-har, we just lost a family member at Christmas in an extremely bizarre way and boy won’t that get people in the mood for the season – “The Christmas Shoes” – Another death in the family? These songwriters have some really intense mother issues, I swear. Now I know, those are novelty songs that are supposed to be earworm-y. But if you listen to the same actual earnest Christmas songs repeatedly over the weeks leading up to Christmas (and cannot change the station!) you’ll get plenty tired of the seventh time you’ve heard “Silent Night” no matter how well it’s done.
Then there is a special section in the Earworm Hall of Fame reserved just for what I term the “Be Of Good Cheer Goddammit” songs, those schmaltzy Christmas songs that seem oddly fixated on being hellbent to trim the tree and buy presents for everyone and rush rush rush – in other words, Anti-Reason-For-The-Season songs. They are usually performed by escapees from the Mitch Miller era, with plenty of four-part “woo-ooh-ooh-ahh-Ahh-AHH!” as if each member of Manhattan Transfer got injected with 500 cc’s of gooey sentiment.
What’s YOUR Christmas earworm?