Straight from The Catskills Lou Menchell and His Mambonicks deliver 1954’s “All I Want for Chanukah is Marilyn Monroe.” He’s just askin’.
At times, kids like to inappropriately mash up urban hip hop with the childhood innocence of Christmas time. “The Legion of Elves” is a rap from Robby the Elf. It’s Atlanta on trial for delivering gifts. Weird computer graphics.
Tomo News goes even more animated with “Get Your Elf On.” The elves here use spit magic, create product placement crap, and Do The Elf Dance. Oh yeah and they electro solve all the world’s problems. Creepy ‘Polar Express’ graphics here.
“The Elf Jump” comes from that unfortunate Golden Films about The Shoemaker and Santa. But it jumps and jives and has a 1940s good time. Credit Diane Eskanazi for the cool tune, if not the awkward animation.
Is the year-long carol search a fool’s errand? Christmas in the summertime?!
Bah & The Humbugs acknowledge that Christmas in July is a time honored measure of the furthest away you can get from the cool thing. But August?! Perhaps it is best explained in plain song: “Christmas in July (In August).”
The ridiculousness is forced when Gabe Bondoc sings his hit ‘Summertime’ with the words “Christmas Time” substituted. Not that funny. No one in the audience is laughing, anyway.
The unlikelihood is further explored as impossibly found love, in psychedelic motown no less, by The One with “Christmas in the Summertime.”
Even all the way back to the 1940s Joe Reichman and Orchestra remind us that “A Christmas Song in Summertime” is the oxymoron of the year. Impossible love, again. Could be Marion Shaw on vocals.
Well, we’ve had some fun with the animal kingdom this month, but please remember where it all began: in the back of the barn. Let’s look at bunches of animals altogether now.
“The Animals Christmas Song” is another Chipmunks ripoff, and from all i can tell, was actually recorded by Santa’s Pixie Helpers. It’s the tortured rhymes of names of animals with Christmas items that keeps on giving.
“Carol of the Beasts” by Pete Seger mournfully strums through the manger’s menagerie, but in a folktastic way.
With his more modern maundering, Sufjan Stevens guides us through his version of “The Friendly Beasts.” Jesus’ beast-bro hoe down.
Tru Harmony swings and sways–mostly on key–with “Song of the Christmas Animals (Don’t Forget about Me).” Like Christ would forget that one lamb there.
I find the true spirit of the manger in the mangey tomfoolery of Spike Jones (featuring the Bell Sisters) syncopating “Barnyard Christmas.” Try to keep up.
1952 begins with a new Queen for England and ends with a war hero for U.S. President. In-between are military coups for Cuba and Egypt. Although, we did beat the Russkies in the Helsinki Olympics (barely). George Jorgensen lost to Christine Jorgenson this year as well (if ya know whut ah mean).
The top o’ the charts also tells a battlesome tale. Consider this playlist as a searing love lorn plot: “You Belong to Me” “Here in My Heart;” “Why Don’t You Believe,” “Blue Tango,” “Cry.” “I Went to Your Wedding,” “Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart.” Those darn kids and their over-emotional tunes!
In Adult Town, where the real wars are made, we denially lounge to sweet, brisk, bouncy bands.
Spike Jones is still filling ballrooms. Here he is with his band and ‘Winter‘ (check out the cool Frisky Frolics cartoon with it!).
Okay, sometimes we had a couple too many and we get a little maudlin and we start singing too loudly about the past, like Don Cornell and orchestra with “Let’s Have an Old Fashioned Christmas.” Hic, hoo boy.
No no no, no more negativity. This is the Year of Norman Vincent Peale and Positive Thinking. We have to Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye! Chins up! Toes pointed! Marching music, please, maestro! “All Around the Christmas Tree.”
As we enter our decade of prosperity and white picket fences, we still cling to our golden past of victory and nationalism. The big band dance music continues, but feels a little more jazzy. Louis Jordan and his Orchestra bless us with “May Every Day be Christmas.” It’s a thick coating of brass with a cheap organ flourish.
The Four Aces, about to become teen idols, record “There’s a Christmas Tree in Heaven” an Eddy Howard and his orchestra number. It’s a criminal move by their manager.
We continue fighting with the future by sounding like the past with thoughts of our boys on the front lines in Korea. PFC Eddie Fisher sings from there “Christmas Eve in My Home Town” complete with radio show introduction by the crooner.
Cool Tommy (‘It’s All in the Game’) Edwards is keeping it white with “Christmas is for Children,” although i would not play this dreamy, greasy night club nostalgia for children.
The worst of the running-in-place problems is the nepotism of Bing Crosby’s son (no, it only sounds like a daughter) warbling at thirteen years old here with “Dear Mister Santa Claus.” He later went on to form the Crosby Boys with his brothers and play night clubs and drink heavily. These boys mostly committed suicide.
Okay, my novelty search still loves to find the kooky and comedic and childish. 1950 is AFTER most of the Spike Jones holiday hoo-ha, and the sensation of Yogi Yorgesson and his Scandihoovian shenanigans. But it still sought out gleeful oddities.
Funnyman Jimmy Durante begins Act III of his career with his first TV show in 1950. But his “Christmas Wish” featured in a meh movie called The Great Rupert and run on his new show reminded us that vaudeville died kicking and screaming for the Ol’ Schnozzola.
The most popular girl group of the first half of the XXth Century were beloved but not taken too seriously. Laverne, Maxene, and Patty gave us ‘jump blues’ and iconic songs like ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.’ While The Andrews Sisters’ ‘I’d Like to Hitch a Ride with Santa Claus‘ is not a ha-ha novelty song, it’s a cute kiddie tune–okay maybe a bit melancholy.
Let’s arm twist the year to find something truly irreverent and comic! Oh–i know, Ella Fitzgerald! The First Lady of Song was one of those talent show winners who elbowed her way into the Apollo in the ’30s with her own vocal gifts. By the ’40s she was dropping her regular band with Chick Webb, going jazz, and even sang a song in an Abbott and Costello movie. Her 1950 song “Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney” made little waves in her burgeoning career, but according to a fellow Xmas music blogger on hip christmas, it became a naughty anthem and re-releases may have been blocked by Lady Ella who didn’t see its sexuality when she first recorded it. (Although i find it more Clarence Carter anal, than Ertha Kitt missionary.) Explicate the imagery at your own prudish peril!
It’s May Day, which i prefer to mean you leave pulled up flowers on the neighbor’s doorstep, but actually is Codependence Day for Communists.
Speaking of which, i’m so bummed from the last two months of poop and corpses i gotta change it up here and find some Actual Music that’s not rude, crude, and dripping with irony. What better start than our own Happy Days Decade, the 1950s? Sure it’s The Cold War (from Korea to Cuba to space racing), but it’s also the slice of the century that gave us TV, rock ‘n’ roll, and me (man, i’m old!).
So let’s us try a few days of the month per year of the ’50s and dig out holiday tunes you may not have heard (tons of standards come from this decade from Bing, Dean, and Elvis; i may mention those overplayed muthas in order to put the years in perspective… but we are not playing that crap).
And, yesiknow, the ’50s actually begin with 1951 and end with 1960–but that’s not the high school text book approach. We’re going to start with 1950, whose Christmas playlist was largely run by kingpin Bing Crosby. ‘White Christmas’ was first released in ’41 and rerecorded in ’47 and played non-stop every Dec. since. 1950 features his continued money-makers ‘Silver Bells’ and ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ and family sing-a-longs and this juggernaut keeps chugging. But, forget that stuff.
So, Christmas ‘Fifty is just another year for crooners to get some sooner, like Pierino Como. Second stringer behind Bing and Frank, Mr. C left the club action and the Ted Weems orchestra in the early ’40s to settle in with family and become a radio and TV guy. He had hit singles through the ’40s and ’50s (‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ ‘Hot Diggity (Zog Diggity Boom),’ ‘Catch a Falling Star’). And he won countless awards including THREE stars on the Walk of Fame. But do you even hear his ‘Silver Bells’ or ‘The Christmas Song’ in the Broken Record Rotation 500 radio-played every year? Then try his “There’s No Christmas Like a Home Christmas” and it’s flipside “Christmas Symphony.” Please get comfortable first. Aahhh.
The ‘Fifties see the rise of the crooner, the star attraction, hand-in-hand with the demise of the big band ensemble. like Tommy Tucker’s orchestra. Schlepping the country playing clubs through the ’20s and ’30s, Tommy had hits like ‘I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire.’ He did appearances on radio shows and even played his own musical show briefly. Here’s his talent playing a lively December dance number recorded in 1950: “Jing A Ling, Jing A Ling.”
‘Tis the day to think about taking down the ornaments and calling the Boy Scouts to come get your tree. In other words, Christmas is officially over.
A New Day has begun. A New Year.
Now, much is made of turning over a new leaf on the calendar. Dieting, exercising, quitting, starting, asking… it’s all athreat today. Myself, i’m over it. No self-help from yours truly.
For a quickie on the the whole magilla please refer to “New Years Resolutions Through the Ages.”
And some SING SERIOUSLY about this self-imposed life-changing mind-over-matter. Graham Coulton‘s is a lachrymous retrospective of the breakup he just had. Loser.
Otis Redding and Carla Thomas have the best classic R&B. of course. But it’s a couple’s standoff.
Jen Armstrong‘s is nothing new: good pipes, but the soulful siren song also laments him gone bye.
Camera Obscura‘s is more enticing vocals and emo loneliness. I can dance to this one, though. Talkin’ slooow dance….
Kevin ‘KRIA’ Allvarez‘s is Motown for kiddies with a rap interlude. It’s more hopeful and upbeat, but the electric keyboard gets old fast.
After the Curfew‘s alt-garage offering is navel-gazing future-sensing at first… then all about the breakup. It’s not her, it’s u.
Helen Reddy‘s version is so 1971 and tautological it says nothing about everything (but check out that flute solo).
Oddly, ’tis the time for proselytizing. With some fun stats and a killer clip from ‘V for Vendetta’ peacetv tries to stop your drunken shenanigans with “New Years Resolution Song 2009.” Spell it along with them!
What we’re looking for here in the novelty game is a sense of humor to cover the scent of Baby Time’s saggy diaper. So, try Rhett and Link’s “New Years Resolutions.” They’re no Flying Conchords, but they are filling that modern folk comedy rap vacuum.
Also listing non sequitors, Zoe Anne harmonizes with herself for “New Years Resolutions Fails Song.” Millennial miseries–meh! She’s adorkable, but she’s no Zoey Deschanel.
Another near-comic miss is Quiet Company’s nervous folkie “New Year’s Resolution.” Wait… are they serious?
Angry and nonsenical, Adam the Woo and Beth Vandal shout their way through “New Years Resolutions (The Song).” I’m glad they got it out of their systems.
For more of a serial killer deadpan with comic lyrics, try Nick Bunyan’s “Happy New Year Song.” He’s insulting. It’s funny.
Jack Danyells recounts his wish list with modulo and a helpful bouncing disco ball to follow the lyrics with “New Years Resolution Song.” But then he gets mean about idiot celebrities and loses his charm.
Supricky Quickie delivers a one-minute bit with “The New Year’s Song.” Nice twist, bro.
BLUE ALERT: The ladies know how to ironically change it up to. Vis a vis Coleen Wainwright with “The Boulder.” (Yes, it’s about New Years.)
Classic Comedy Gold would be the Dr. Demento fave: Scary Gary Allen’s “New Years Resolutions.” I’m imagining you’ve heard this, but let’s flash that past one mo’ time.
And, while i’m nostalgic for the past (happens this time of year), let’s go back to the ’40s for Spike Jones and His City Slickers. The cast o’ characters trot out their sfx and rude humor for their own resolutions with “Happy New Year.” heh heh …with a baseball bat! har!