Since my column falls on Thanksgiving, I debated whether or not to do a column this week. I could have done it on a plethora of topics (I actually just saw Rent on Wednesday, I pick up two eagerly anticipated sophomore albums, continuing my gratuitous love for The Roots). I’ve actually opted to do neither. I’m not going to completely ditch this week, but I’m not really going to write too much either.
Instead I’m going to rerun a column from nearly two years ago, where I discuss holiday music. And I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that even I’m surprised that I actually managed to work Thanksgiving into the column. At the very least it will force me to write something new in a month.
So enjoy a column that you may not have read before, knowing that my usual brand of all new pointless prattle will return next week.
this column originally ran 12/29/03
Ok, so a few of days have passed since Christmas, and at work we have finally changed from the Christmas music station. While I’m not a religious man, I do thank god for that. I despise Christmas music.
The songs are so “cheery” and “festive.” It sickens me. They either try to be cute, or worse funny. The only Christmas song that is tolerable is by the great Mel Tourme, aside from that they all suck.
After countless hours of listening that happy bile I got to thinking, why do I hate Christmas music so much? I mean surely other holidays have equally horrendous songs. Then it occurred to me, other holidays are pretty much music free. Well I want to change that.
The way I see it is that other holidays are untapped markets. When was the last time you heard an Arbor Day song? Exactly. So I narrowed it down to the four holidays that I feel could make the most headway in terms of holiday songs. I also have some suggestions as to what type of song would work best with the holiday and I’ve even suggested some artists who I feel would best embody my vision.
Sure, America has lots of songs praising the country., but most of these song were written by fuddy duddies over a century ago, at least. Hello! Can we get a modern take on what makes this country so great? It’s time we infuse this holiday with some fresh visions. This would be a two-fold effort.
First we would have some Pro America songs. Nothing too propaganda, perhaps somewhere in-between Patriotism and apathy. Of course these would have to be super power ballads, so we would look to the seventies and eighties for the song writers. I’m thinking hair bands, or in case of the seventies artists, bad hair bands. Winger, Foreigner, White Snake, and Styx would all so some great work. Hell we could even throw in some REO Speedwagon just for old times sakes. And if you want something sweeping and majestic we look no further than Guns N Roses. Don’t you think the gang would get back together, if it were for the sake of the nation?
Now on the other side of the Fourth of July would be Britain basing songs (sorry Phil.) I mean it’s called Independence Day for a reason. We had a beef with the UK. In order is evoke that feeling we need people who know a thing or two about beef; MC’s. That’s right, so called gangsta rappers are the perfect people to do songs defecating on the UK (I love Badly Drawn Boy.) Think about all those venomous words spat between Jadakiss, Syles and Beanie Seigel. Or the battle between Jay-Z and Nas. Some pretty harsh things were said. And what makes you feel better about yourself that tearing someone else down? Nothing so obviously trashing Britain would make us feel better about our citizenship (I really liked the Harry Potter movies.) Again don’t you think that if the country called Nas and Jay would be on the same track, for the country? Of course the authors of the tracks would have to be from the original colonies.
Sure Valentines Day is supposed to be about the love (of money) but it needs a soundtrack. Not just any love songs would do. They would have to be Valentines Day specific love songs. Again this would be a two-pronged effort.
First we would have the love songs. Now how could we make love songs specific to Valentines Day? By making them just like Greeting Cards! These songs don’t have to be epic, the just need to convey a message. And who knows more about lack of depth and brevity than boy bands? The way I see it, these bands need the work anyway, as their fifteen minutes are up, right about…. now. So you can pick and choose from which song you need. So you need a flowery ballad that discreetly apologizes for past indiscretions? Look no further than 98 Degrees. Or if you want that song that conveys how you feel about a member of the same sex you go to NSYNC. Ideally each boy band would release a Valentines Day album, every year. Instead of song titles, there would be categories, like “For Boyfriend” or “To Your Ex.” Plus you could make a mix of the songs for use after dinner, if you catch my drift. And when did you ever use a greeting card during that?
Of course not everyone has a date on Valentines Day. For those people some more somber stylings are in order. Did I say somber, I meant bad. The way I see it the only way to cheer these people up is to get some truly horrendous love songs out there to make the dateless wonders think “Gee I’m glad I’m single, because obviously people involved in relationships listen to crap.” Now not just anyone can create a terrible love song. I think Peter Cetera can do it. Matchbox Twenty is pretty adept at crappy love songs. And if we could squeeze one more “Dear Ben”esque love song out of J-Lo clearly it would make the single populace of the world that much happier on Valentines Day. C’mon, sometimes you have to make a sacrifice for the greater good of mankind.
When was the last time you heard a Thanksgiving ballad? Exactly! This is a holiday in need of some tunes. Think about it, the more Thanksgiving tunes, the less time devoted to Christmas music. Of course I have the perfect solution.
First we would have some real heartfelt songs about the holiday. Since Thanksgiving is basically about the feast, I’m looking at some portly singers to carry the weight of the duties. I think American Idol Ruben could make a great song, plus he’s got plenty to be thankful for. Bone Crusher can clearly put some food away, and I for one am curious about his view on the holiday.
Then there are those recording artists who have plenty to be thankful for. Kelley Osborne and Thicke clearly should do a song about what they are thankful for. All of those kids who sprung from the Orlando gestating chambers could to an all-star tribute to Disney. Ja Rule and R. Kelly could do a collabo about whom they bit their style from (Tupac/DMX, and Aaron Hall respectively.) And perhaps all the “rockers” (emo, modern, alternative, hard, metal, and thrash) could thank the real Father of Rock and Roll. Perhaps, maybe?
This is a day that is completely neglected in terms of music. We could have songs that honor those who have lost their lives. We could listen to those songs and remember our fallen family members or friends.
I think that some of the most evocative storytellers are Billy Joel and the Boss. Bruce and Billy can tell heartbreaking stories of epic proportions. And Johnny Cougar could also contribute some good songs. The characters that populate these singers songs are often more real than the people I see at work (but I do work in Vegas.) Clearly these guys can channel the energy of Memorial Day into song form.
Now again MC’s can come in to play again. My idea for the Hip Hop contribution to Memorial Day is by doing covers. Now clearly MC’s are always paying homage to fallen MC’s, be it by using a line or a beat from a deceased MC. Some have even had the audacity to claim to embody the spirit of a dead MC (See Jay-Z, Ja Rule, 50 Cent.) Well this way things could be decided once and for all. DMX, Ja Rule and 50 Cent can each cover a Pac song, and let the public decide who actually comes closest to the real thing. And Jay and Nas can cover B.I.G. to see who deserves to fill the great Frank White’s shoes.
Now there are some holidays that have a decent foothold in terms of having a musical identity. Hanukkah has some songs, but they don’t really have crossover appeal. Clearly that is one holiday that needs to spread out into other demographics musically. Perhaps some Jewish rock star should do Hanukkah albums.
New Year’s Eve has it’s own song, but it’s only one song. There was that Prince song “1999.” But year songs tend to be retrospective like “1974” or in the present “93 til Infinity.” You would think that some enterprising musician would put out a song called “2004” just so that it could be licensed this year and next. It sounds pretty easy to me.
Halloween used to have good songs. Sure they were corny but the captured the fun of the holiday. However now DJ’s just play music by scary artists like Rob Zombie or (shudder) Celine Dion. But it does have a decent head start in the music category.
So there you have it. Don’t you think that this would greatly make us hate Christmas music less?
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