Thursday, December 08, 2011

Christmas Music Overload

By this time of December, either you've haven't heard enough Christmas music for your liking or you've heard plenty more Christmas music than you want to hear. It's the curse of the holiday -- how much music is enough and how much is too much.

Musical performers will all record Christmas music. They have to. It's the law. Alright, it may not be the law, but they all do it. The reason singers record Christmas music is that they realize that if they have one hit that strikes a Christmas chord with the general public, their careers will never die. Artists can make their career based on one record, and with a Christmas record, it will be dragged out and played every year. Brenda Lee has "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Bobby Helms has "Jingle Bell Rock," and Elmo & Patsy have "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." Each have become as much a part of Christmas as stockings, trees, and one-horse open sleighs.

But in the glut of Christmas music, many songs get lost along the way. Realize that there are only a handful of accepted Christmas carols and then a separate group of Christmas songs. In all, there are really not many songs that keep getting repeated on those 24-hour Christmas radio stations. If you listen for an afternoon, you'll already have figured that out! However, many other recordings are treated with as much respect as the box with all the broken ornaments and non-working Christmas lights. Because I have a background in radio broadcasting and music, I may have heard of a few Christmas recordings that you may have never heard. Allow me to peruse my personal collection of Christmas music and share a few with you.

"Merry Chirstmas from The Brady Bunch" - What could be cuter than the lovable television family warbling carols? Well, plenty. The real actors performed the songs on the album, meaning it sounded only slightly different than any group of kids in the early 1970s singing Christmas carols. Mighty forgettable. (Note: There was also a "Partridge Family Christmas Card" album, but good taste overtook me and I didn't pick that one up!)

Twisted Sister - "A Twisted Christmas" - Imagine the hard-hitting rock and roll chords of the 80's hit "We're Not Gonna Take It." Now imagine those same three chords with the lyrics of Christmas carols instead the cries of teen angst. You've got "Twisted Christmas." It's the album that makes it possible to bang your head to "O Come All Ye Faithful."

"Christmas Day with Colonel Sanders" - I, as a lover of truly terrible music, was overjoyed at the thought of Col. Harlan Sanders crooning holiday classics coated with 11 herbs and spices, but alas the album was a mix of hymns and carols sung by real musicians like Al Hirt, Jim Reeves, Ed Ames, and other household names from over half a century ago. So I passed on the album and got the bucket of chicken instead.

The Singing Mailmen of Miami - "Mail Early and Have a Merry Christmas" - I'll admit, this may be my personal favorite. I stumbled across this in the record library stacks of a radio station I worked for. It was the late 80s, but the recording dated back to the 60s. There was an actual group of postal workers known as The Singing Mailmen of Miami who sang for charity purposes. This album was Christmas-themed, but also served as public service announcements for the post office. One tune sounded like "Jingle Bells" but the lyrics were about remembering to use zip codes to make mail deliveries quicker. Another cited the benefits of mailing cards and packages early during the holiday season. The Singing Mailmen of Miami were always good for a useful holiday tip.

My Christmas wish for you is that you do not overdose on sappy Christmas songs this year, and that the music you enjoy is always at your disposal. But, if you want to jam to the Singing Mailmen of Miami, let me know. We can play it LOUD!