Annoying sounds of the season

December 06, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

There can be no question among reasonable people that the most horrible Christmas song of all time is the Singing Dogs rendition of "Jingle Bells."

For anyone actually unfamiliar with the, ahem, lyrics, imagine three or four vicious mutts barking their fool heads off behind a chain-link fence.

Suddenly a conductor in white tie and tails appears and taps a baton lightly against a music stand.

With that, the barking takes on a hauntingly-familiar cadence that sounds almost like . . . well, you be the judge:

"Wroof, wroof, wroof,

"Wroof, wroof, wroof,

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

Needless to say, the effect of all this on the human mind is devastating.

Instantly, the central nervous system is on complete stimulus overload. The body then goes into full fight-or-flight response. Completely unnerved, the listener cares only about escaping from the unearthly noise, and will actually hurl himself from the balcony of a 10th-floor apartment if that's what it takes.

If further proof is needed that there are certain things animals should never be asked to do, another horrid version of "Jingle Bells" by Alvin and the Chipmunks is also trotted out this time of year.

The song is warbled in such a high-pitched, chipmunky kind of voice that even the most dedicated animal rights activist will be reaching for a shotgun to take out one of the little critters.

Another mainstay on the all-time worst Christmas song list is the supremely-annoying "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer." This is the unconvincing tale of a reindeer who inexplicably runs amok on Christmas Eve and tramples an elderly woman.

Far from being upset, however, the narrator (her grandson, for God's sake) seems almost to revel in the tragedy.

The melody is so uninspired and the lyrics so bleak ("You can say there's no such thing as Santa") that before long the listener is actively rooting for the reindeer to return and gore both the narrator and his grandfather, who, judging by his own oddly-detached reaction to his wife's accident, may well have a substance abuse problem.

This brings us to "The Little Drummer Boy," a song which all too vividly illustrates why certain children should be denied access to musical instruments.

Whether it's the Valium-like dirge sung by Perry Como or a more upbeat, New Agey rendition, by the 15th or so hypnotic "a-rum-pah-pum-pum," the listener is praying for a large anvil to drop out of the sky and smash the boy's drum to smithereens.

With all of Michael Jackson's legal problems of late, I hesitate to mention that the man is also responsible for ruining Christmas each year for millions of God-fearing Americans.

As a member of the dysfunctional Jackson Five some time ago, he recorded the incredibly gooey "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," which still nauseates FM radio devotees to this day.

(This was before Michael began parading around in weird, planet-Romulus attire and had his nose surgically narrowed to the dimensions of a drill bit in an effort to resemble a young Lena Horne.)

Whipped along by the hormonal stirrings of Michael, Tito, Jermaine, et al., "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" alludes to a child's horror when he discovers his mother involved in a tryst with Santa.

(Santa, confined to the North Pole for 364 days of the year, apparently treats these Christmas Eve runs down the chimney as the equivalent of two weeks of R&R in Bangkok, if you catch my drift.)

Whatever. Between the Jacksons' cat-caught-in-the-screen-door falsettos and overly-cute improvisations ("I DID! I DID see Mommy kissing Santa Claus!"), the song quickly takes on all the charm of a 10-car pileup and leaves the listener in need of a quiet room in which to collect one's thoughts.

If all that is not enough evidence that the apocalypse is at hand, there is the bizarre duo of Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper collaborating on "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

This incredibly lame effort lends instant credence to the rumor that the Chairman of the Board may have suffered a nervous breakdown recently. It also explains why Ms. Lauper's career has been on hold since the early '80s, and why she is reportedly considering a position as a domestic at a Days Inn in Los Angeles.

Finally we come to Barry Manilow's halting rendition of "Silent Night," which suggests a man fighting through the haze of a barbiturate overdose and groping groggily for the phone to dial 911.

The listener, unless also well-sedated, will be tempted to do the same.

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