Holiday music goes to the dogs

KEVIN COWHERD

December 11, 1992|By KEVIN COWHERD

In a chilling reminder that pain and suffering can originat anywhere, I turned on the car radio the other day and found myself listening to the Singing Dogs rendition of "Jingle Bells."

This, of course, remains the single most horrible Christmas song all time, as well as visible proof that there are certain things animals should never be asked to do.

For those fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the "lyrics," imagine three or four skittish Labrador retrievers trapped in a burning building.

The dogs are barking frantically. Suddenly the barking takes on a hauntingly familiar cadence, which corresponds roughly to . . . well, you be the judge:

"Wroof, wroof, wroof,

"Wroof, wroof, wroof,

"Wroof, WROOF, wroof, wroof, wroof."

As you can imagine, the effect of all this on the central nervous system is incredible.

Instantly, I could feel a familiar pounding in my head and the first wave of nausea washing over me.

By the second chorus, it was all I could do not to stomp on the gas and send the car slamming into the nearest bridge abutment.

A strong candidate for second-worst Christmas song of all time is the supremely annoying "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer."

This is the thoroughly unconvincing tale of a reindeer that supposedly runs amok on Christmas Eve and tramples an elderly woman.

Incredibly, the singers themselves (Patsy and Elmo were the original, ahem, artists) make light of the entire tragedy.

The song is so irritating that the listener actively roots for the reindeer to make a clean sweep of things by goring both the narrators and their grandpa -- and leaving the corpses out where the buzzards can find them.

Between its bleak lyrics ("You can say there's no such thing as Santa . . .") and uninspired melody, the song quickly leaves the listener fumbling through the medicine cabinet for any available anti-depressants.

While we're on the theme of animals, a particularly insipid version of "Jingle Bells" by Alvin and the Chipmunks is still heard on occasion, with stunning disregard for the ill will it generates toward the semi-terrestrial, squirrel-like rodents.

The song is sung (if that's the word) in such a screechy, unpleasant voice that it invariably leaves even the most devoted animal rights activist ready to pick up a shotgun and blast it down the nearest chipmunk hole.

Turning to more traditional bad Christmas music, "The Little Drummer Boy" as sung by Perry Como has its moments -- well, seconds actually.

But by the 12th or so "a-rum-pah-pum-pum," one begins to entertain dark fantasies of stealing into Mr. Como's bedroom, picking up a pillow and smothering the man as he sleeps.

Until now, I have refrained from mentioning the incredibly gooey "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," for fear of having the reader put down this newspaper, run into the kitchen and do serious harm to himself or herself with a butcher knife.

The sappy version sung by the dysfunctional Jackson Five some years ago is the worst of the worst.

This, of course, was before Michael Jackson cut out the picture of a young Diana Ross and burst into the offices of a startled Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon and shouted: "Here! Make me look like her!"

Whipped along by the hormonal stirrings of the young Jacksons, the song vaguely alludes to some sort of tryst between a woman and a man dressed in a Santa outfit, who may or may not be the woman's lawfully wedded husband.

In any event, the Jacksons' cat-caught-in-the-screen-door falsettos and syrupy improvisations ("I did! I did! I did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus!") are the closest thing to a near-death experience one can imagine -- although without the ensuing sense of well-being reported by most victims of serious illnesses and car wrecks.

Of course, we could go on and on listing bad Christmas music:

* Jim Nabors droning through "Silver Bells," which has surely been incorporated into a training film about the dangers of narcolepsy.

* Barry Manilow's halting rendition of "Silent Night," which suggests a man fighting through the haze of a barbiturate overdose.

* The bizarre duo of Frank Sinatra-Cyndi Lauper singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," lending instant credence to the rumor that the Chairman of the Board may have suffered a breakdown recently.

And they wonder why the music industry is in a slump.

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