More Gospels according to Luke (inspiring so many of the classics!) made James Chadwick translate some old French tribute (Les Anges dans nos campagres or something) into English back in 1862. He used that great tune “Gloria” by Edward Shippen Barres to score it and wound up with a hit… mostly with the Scots and the Cornish.
This does not get much play, recognition, or ribbing. It’s pretty and light and been done before. But, in the spirit of finding you true parodies of true traditionals….
A brief mention of The Piano Guys: In their “Angels We Have Heard on High” 4 guys lean over a big old 88-keyer and poke, pluck, stroke, and noodle to give you–if not a great rendition–an awesome video.
And i don’t like to credit the unproduced, but AmIRight.com not only sorts out misheard lyrics, but also catalogs terribly written parodies of hits. Rebekah Dub apparently wrote up a cannabis-ized variation here with her “I Saw Angels Getting High.” Just the lyrics now. You must bring the lungs.
The only truly parodisical take off on “Angels” i have is “Ankles We Have Hurt on High” by the Kinsey Sicks, America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet. They have been selling out shows for 20 years (when I thought that sort of thing was already old hat) after being discovered at a Bette Midler concert. If you don’t know them, welcome to the club. But if you’re curious how polished these boys have gotten over the decades with their schtick, give this minute-long an open ear. It’s just right.
“O Come, O Come, Emanuel” comes from “O Antiphons” which were vespers sung at sunset the few days before Christmas. This practice goes back before 800 BCE in only the best of monastic setups. Somewhere by 1710 Germany shows a written record of “Veni Veni Emmanuel” (that’s the Latin). And by 1865 John Mason Neale (remember him?) has put his English translation to the tune of some 15th C Portuguese nunnery top tune. O and Emmanuel and the stuff we’re glad about is all Old Testament prophecy for the Messiah, so… christmas-sy right? This Frankenstein’s mongrel keeps challenging talented groups of choristers to hit all the right notes in the right order.
Consequently, parodies are few.
My two favorites are mirrors of each other–the joke was obvious once you heard it. Portland Oregon’s funny ladies from the ’80s The Fallen Angel Choir blast our past with their “O Come Get Out the Manual.” Can you even remember the old joke about never being able to set up the VCR clock? I can. Sigh. Nice pipes, gals.
More up to date is professional parodiser Dave Rudolf. This clown will appear at your kid’s birthday, bar mitzvah, coming out part, retirement ceremony–you name it. And he’ll kill. Among his dozens of great carol parodies is this pitch perfect “O Come, O Come, I Read the Manual.” You’re going to laugh.
Is this the first secular (read: no angels, shepherds, JC–or symbols of his never ending love) Christmas carol? James Pierpont (uncle of historical Scrooge J P) wrote this for Thanksgiving back in 1857. And it was often abused as a drinking song (jingle those cubes in your empty glass for a refill, bae). But given its bare melodic line and overwhelming omnipresence, ‘Jingle Bells’ is the 600 lb Santa who gets whatever he wants.
Because it’s been played to death, the parodies are sadly too many too thinly spread over too little foundation. Mostly, yecch.
Classics, of course, include The Three Stooges’ “Jingle Bell Drag,” Da Yooper’s “Rusty Chevrolet,” Jeff Dunham’s “Jingle Bombs” by Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Old schoolboy fave “Batman Smells” apparently needed lots of original verses, so Steve Wilson Britted it up for the ‘tube. Yawn.
But when it comes down to comedy, white people, am i right? “Holidays are Hell” by MyLifeSuckers (she means her family) complains in song about shopping, in-laws, and travel because having all that money means mo problems.
The Fallen Angel Choir also belabors the monetized merrymaking you mongrels have amassed on top of the Mass. Their sell-abration is entitled “Jingle Coins.”
Most movie parodies are poorly talented filk singers with overwrought wordplay poorly done, but someone (The Deluminators) took a little more time with “Catch the Snitch.” I don’t hate it.
Urban but not quite ghetto is Crazy Al Cayne rhyming “Out on Bail.” Festive more than funny.
Because it’s such an innocent beginning to courtship, someone’s gotta pornography this scene ’til we all get upshot. so BLUE ALERT.
DIRTY: Nasty Crue metals up “Jingle Balls” for no other reason than they’re jealous of professional rockers who get all that sex and drugs. Thanks for that.
DIRTIER: Wane Fawes Hispanicly laments his latest lamest STD with “Itchy Balls.” And you thought Cheech and Chong had no legacy.
DIRTIEST: John Valby makes music hall fun with filth. “Jingle Balls” details depravity, perversity, and automobile erotica for the bells of it.
But i enjoy learning while i’m caroling. So let’s travel the world using our jingle to jingo our way into others’ customs. The Savage Muse bemoans her sad Japanese Christmas observation with “Christmas Cake.” It is finger lickin’ good. Less fun is South African Tobias Niehur wishing he had what JB promises in his “Jingle Bells.” (KINDA BLUE STILL HERE: I might take a moment for all my xenophobes out there and include that humorous misinterp of another’s language “Kinky Tom” transcripted but not translated by Arhiblog.) For sheer joy, however, Bucko & Champs replicate the New Englander experience for Down Under. Lots of new words to learn so follow along!
King Wenceslaus is actually Saint Wenceslaus, but originally 10th C Duke Wenceslas who gave alms to the poor on Saint Stephens Day 12/26. In 1853 serial hymnalist John Mason Neale wrote the song to honor this exemplary Xian charity. Later, Thomas Helmore added music from a 13th C spring carol. So the problem largely is the sprightly dance music paired with the high moral lesson. It’s like a California roll with red wine. I mean, come on.
If you just wanna know what the story is check our good kidder William Shatner with his spoken word “Wenceslas” from his 2009 album. He does all the parts.
To ponder the triviality of the story remind yourself of its mention as a DnD clue in The Big Bang Theory. Oh those nerds!
A further tribute to the song’s complicated uselessness is picked up by Buford in his version on Phineas and Ferb.
The big message here leads others to comment on our salacious lives too. Beware your crass commercialism in the hard-to-understand Tree Town Ukes get-together “Hanuk-Wanza-Festi-Mas.”
Even more moral is Burt Meyer with his “earth parody” of GKW wherein he calls us onto the carpet for stinginess, oil spills, and rampant gunneryism. Wenceslaus calls us a lost cause here. Wah.
Back in 1843 Adolphe Adam composed ‘Cantique de Noel’ in honor of a new church organ in Roquemaure France. As per uzh someone else wrote the words a long time before. ‘Minuit, chretiens’ was about the Godchild popping out, but sounded better in Francois. John Sullivan Dwight cobbled together our Englander version a couple handfuls of years later.
The big deal with this holy hymnal is the high range involved. It ain’t easy to do this right.
South Parkers play the boring lyrics with their violent version and still bring it around to the high notes. But no decent parodising.
Angry but reverent, Irish Junkie Tom sings “Oh Holy Night” as a raging night out with da boiz. Bring a translating dictionary.
Toward the other side of the planet, Philipino Terence Lelis mocks lightly the nasty police scandal thereabouts from a handful of years back with “O Hulidap.” Captioned, but still needs translating.
Our Jewish brethren pile on the J-kid as expected with Leslie Caplan’s “Oy Holy Night.” It’s funny AND operatic so you’ll be glad of the captioning (what did she just sing?).
Getting down with his guitar and his message, Todd Chappelle (hey, he did a great Christmas song about Delaware) sings “October Night.” It’s about decorations too early, yada yada. But he’s got a great voice.
Adult theming leads us to “O Horny Night” by Raquela. It’s fifty shades of advent, so not that nasty. (You know, fall on your knees, snigger.) And she can sing, too.
For my myrrh nothing mocks the sanctity of this solemnity more than 13 Hands in a magnificent cathedral belting out “Josh Grow Beans.” Wow, nearly speechless. (Thanks for the captioning, natch.)
Best of show, however is Tessa Netting. She gives us the real meaning of the song with her “O Holy Shit.” Mildly appropriate profanity… nothing worse than you’d hear in the mall parking lot with kids around. And she does the second verse most people leave out.
Somewhere in the 1830s in Germany (those guys knew how to Christmas) August Zarnack married some old folk song with a variation of a song written about the Paradise Tree (you know, from the Garden of E… somehow reimagined as a fir tree because it held the promise of eternal life something something something God). Ernst Anschutz added more lyrics later and the kids just went holiday crazy.
Because the symbolism of a tree inside our house for Jesus has long been lost, we kid.
Those wacky Vancouverites, The Yule Be Sorrys, are back with an attempted explanation why we allow this ancient custom to persist: “O Xmas Tree.”
A fine male churchy quartet (John Miller, Lyle Stutzman, Eldo Miller, and Willard Mast) also play this out with their “O Christmas Tree.” Great harmony! Where’s your barber pole?
Peter Adamson furthers the disagreements with materialism with his “O Christmas Tree.” It’s folky and satiric with a gentle agenda.
Party down with nog pukin’ and slack key! “Oh Tom Got Bombed” by Dave Rudolf purposely mistranscribes the German and builds a scenario around the drunken mess. Comedy for barf’s sake.
Jaci Lapointe cuts a different point with her “O Christmas Tree.” I mean, the poor thing! Torn from its wintry ground and stuck in our smelly, smokey house!
Which reminds me of Bob Rivers’s awfully sad “O Christmas Tree.” But let’s stave off the sawed-off blues for now. Laters i will devote a week or so just to songs about The Tree. Without using this particular melody we will have some blasting fun.
For now, let’s celebrate Samuel Stokes. Like a smaller version of Tom Lehrer this academic has applied his philosophies to the betterment of amusing colleges with musicals about Dracula and Robin Hood. His funny songs are popular with the Dr. Demento show. So give an ear to his explication “O Tannenbaum (This Song has Many Versions).”
‘Silent Night’ is so popular it comes with its own mythology. Probably around 1818 Franz Xaver Gruber (tune) and Joseph Mohr (words) worked together to celebrate the Annunciation in their Austrian berg Even Though The Church Organ was Broken! (Get the Silent part?) A recent movie and a recent documentary have been made (not in English) arguing the hows and whys of when and where it spread around the world (transl. to English like 1863, but sung in America long before that). With great availability comes great poking fun.
A lovely PSA comes from off duty officers of the Huddersfield South Neighbourhood Policing Team (part of Kirklees District Police) who sing their alternative Crime Prevention version of “Silent Night“. These guys go all out.
The Biggs and Barr Show do a salubrious “Silent Wife” which is not quite country and not quite passive aggressive misogynistic scat.
Keepin it Minimal is David Solomon’s short short “Silent Gnat.” Slap splat done.
BLUE ALERT Gothika emos out a crying-boy version of “Christmas Night” to our favorite tune. He’s got something to say about how badly people treat him this time of the… sorry i stopped caring.
Just as upset is Reed Garzone, student on an English project, with “Loud Day.” So many things go wrong with his petty little existence it’s a wonder we even celebrate 12/25. Sweet harmonies with Winston Hunter, though.
Above Average Productions attempts the Jewish version with “Lonely Night.” I love a note for note parody wherein you must listen carefully to the lyrics. SADD looks good your little punims!
KWIXOTIKA posted a “Violent Night” which contrasts the peace with the, well, you know. Props for the pitch imperfect falsetto setting off the pornographic graphic nature of the descriptions.
While dozens of other witless horrorshow versions of this beloved noel get unruly, unhealthy, and unholy (all the videogame lovers need their own novelty Christmas music site–although i did enjoy the Robotech-themed “Violent Night” by Sindell Pellion), i am going to cut it short with my favorite blue collar version: “Violent Night” by Snook. It’s low class suffering, but sweetly reflective enough to warrant its inspiration from the German original.
Somewhere around the year 1700, European churches began to allow Christmas carols to be sung. Before then only David’s Psalms were considered holy enough to be sung. Nahum Tate, so the story goes, was inspired by Luke 2:8-14 and dared to noodle out lyrics improving on The New Writ. It became “When Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night” and was sung by different melodies over the centuries, including that of ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.’ Eventually music from an opera by Handel became what we know today, according to Ace Collins’s books about the origins of carols.
Apparently the British make joke with ‘When Shepherds WASHED Their Socks by Night’ they way we do with ‘Jingle bells, Batman smells….’ A young bloke carries on through this standard travesty with youth and cheek. Crisis Christmas gobble out their few funny verses through a relentlessly paced high-pitched organ karaoke.
The bestest caroldy of them all, however, is a little known one by Vancouver’s homegrown humorists The Yule Be Sorrys. Their 1994 album Oh Holey Socks features “The New While Shepherds Washed Their Socks by Night.” (Yeah we’re still on that old joke, but this time it’s funny.) (At least it seems to make fun of an actual French soap product.) (And they’re Canadian.) (So, it’s not offensive.)
Because a good lampoon requires wit, here are lyrics:
While shepherds washed their socks by nite
All seated ‘round the tub,
A bar of Starlight soap came down,
And they began to scrub!
“What wondrous sight is this?” they cried,
“A miracle divine!
Our socks no longer will hang stiff
As they dry on the line!”
Then from this modest bar of soap
There spewed such copious suds,
Without a word these good shepherds
Tore off their filthy duds!
They hurled their grubbies in the tub
And they scrubbed them then and there,
While “Cleanliness is next to godliness”
Intoned their prayer.
Then gazing heavenward they saw
An awesome superstar.
A chorus line behind him chimed
“Come to the Starlight bar!”
“Good, tidy, neat and clean we’ll be.”
They joyously proclaimed.
“Our stockings will no longer stink,
Nor will their soles be stained!”
It’s time to bridge that gap between Jews and Gentiles. (Christ was killed by Jews!?? Christ was a Jew!) Y’know a fair understanding of Chanukah is how second-class it feels in a Jesus-driven world (Judeo-Christian, my Advent!) That big fat Santa everywhere you go probably doesn’t seem so jolly when you’ve got your own family celebration in your own language waiting in the warmth of home and hearth and holiness. Allow for a tiny bit of resentment, then.
The seminal Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert “Can I Interest You in a Hanukkah?”is no longer on Youtube. But its gentility helps the goyim understand.
That reminds me of The LeeVees “Goyim Friends.” It’s some rockin’ racism, whitey!
Perhaps also check out Brandon Harris Walker’s rocker “Chinese Food on Christmas.” I actually couldn’t find one of those open on 12/25 last year. I tired. Oh, great song, by the way.
It may be hardest on the kids, or at least the Yid Kids. Their “Santa Doesn’t Come to Little Jewish Children’s Houses” from the magical album Santa’s Got a GTO: Rodney on the ROQ’s Christmas allows for the angst and the anger of the passed-over.
Actually, let’s let activist/comic Sarah Silverman express the schism of Happy Holidays with “Give the Jew Girl Toys.”