Love your Mariah, but don’t hate Michael

Published 6:10 pm Friday, December 13, 2019

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Okay, call me Scrooge, the Grinch, any of them; just at least hear me out.

At this time of year when days-until-Christmas are in single-digit countdown – but it feels like it’s been going on since Labor Day! – face it, it’s hard to avoid those sugar-coated clutches of holiday music that seem to be blaring at you from everywhere. Seems every year around this time, people put aside petty differences to agree on one thing: Christmas music becomes almost universally unbearable.

For those who can’t stomach figgy pudding while roasting your chestnuts, and other tidings of comfort and joy, your reckoning is here: December is just the time for Frostys and Rudolphs, for Christmas trees and Christmas cheer, for Santa Claus and Jack Frost, and Grandma getting run over by a – oh, never mind!

Somewhere within those parameters, if you’re really as honest as cranberry punch, there lies a bunch of terrible, terrible, loathsome holiday songs, many of which should never have been written, much less put to music. Or maybe that’s wrong, because I know there are a lot of you out there who feel these songs are secretly, totally, awesome.

To misquote Elton John: This song’s for you.

So, here are my best Christmas songs, and, among many horrible contenders, which of these should never be yuletide carols being sung by a choir.

Best songs first: I think there’s only one good Christmas song that makes you pine for your loved ones, whether they’re near or far: and it’s Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” It doesn’t sound cliché, and pretty much anyone can sing along to it. A close second: ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ – if only in my dreams!

When it comes to hymns, sorry ‘Joy to the World,’ but I love ‘The Little Drummer Boy’. Maybe it’s the staccato ‘rumpa, pum, pum’, or the ox and lamb kept time, but something about this one just gets me. Another one from the hymnal is the Motown group, The Temptations’ version of ‘Silent Night’ – especially bassist Melvin Franklin going reeal low on the third verse. You can actually hear those shepherds quake.

Back to popular songs and – don’t hate me! – there’s Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas’; if you’ve ever been lonely or broken-hearted, this one hits home. But on the other side of the spectrum, ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’ never fails to get me in the mood for the festive times to come.

I know my catalog could go on-and-on, but I’ll stop at those six.

Now for the worst songs: It’s not the songs you hate, it’s the repetition and the fact that you associate it with the stress of packed stores, squeezing into that last parking space before going inside and fighting over that last red necktie for Uncle Pete.

Worst song: I love you, Michael Jackson (or Jimmy Osmond!), but ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ heads the list. I don’t know why this one irks me but I leave the room every time it’s played. Lucky it’s often on in stores when I do my Christmas shopping, and that ends up vicariously saving me a lot of money because the second it comes on, I drop whatever I was going to buy and leave! Don’t un-Merry my Christmas! Then there’s double entendre in there somewhere with some lecherous old man making out with sweet ol’ Mom. Plus, it’s cute, and what really good song is ever – cute?

‘Good King Wenceslas’ makes the list simply because I never could correctly pronounce Wenceslas (I think I said something like: WooshieSauce); ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ by The Carpenters, because it’s, well – the Carpenters (see ‘cute’, above); and, finally, ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ by Brenda Lee (ah, to forever be a teenager!).

So, in conclusion, that’s just my personal list. Now go out there and let’s reclaim the classics by doing our shopping early and listening to all those songs – good or bad – in the comfort of our own homes, gliding and sliding towards December 25th.

You know, it’s kind of like, coming down Santa Claus Lane.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7211.