Merry Mistletoe: FTSK

Let’s bring it down a pinch.

Mistletoe, like all the trimmings, symbolize all the glory and gaiety we can’t possibly live up to for that special time of the year. So it can bum ya out. Bad.

Forever the Sickest Kids (and you thought those bits on sitcoms about picking the band’s name were exaggerated) go alt-emo with “Mistletoe is for Quitters.” They’re trying to get in the mood, but are unequipped to do so. Still, melodic.

Merry Mistletoe: Mandrell, Babs, Campbell+Tucker

Another overplayed contender is “It Must have been the Mistletoe” proving once again that laundry lists of Xmas imagery make a song. This ’80s easy listening lump of coal hit big with Barbara Mandrell in ’84, but got most of its attention from the movie ‘Love Actually,’ which’s soundtrack slipped in a Barbra Streisand take.

Vicki Carr, Thomas Anders, and Jana Peterson also sing basically the same thing. It’s like all the siblings brought the same marshmallow salad to the big family dinner. Even the Northwest Girlchoir Ensemble out of Seattle plugs it as a dull-witted waltz. (Okay–there are some obvi misfires: Heather Poduska Florence Foster Jenkins the song into torture.)

For a hot DJ mix to jazz up this old thing, fire up Nicole Henry on Billy Paul Williams’ fusion. I give that an A+. (Big fan of his Reindeer Room album work–check it out.)

So how ’bout we settle on the smarm: a canned TV Christmas special from 1980 wherein Tanya Tucker and Glen Campbell heft big hollow presents up the snowy walk to see Minnie Pearl? Some chemistry at least.

Merry Mistletoe: animated

Mistletoe is the great euphemism for wee ones trying to wrap their heads around adults nagging and snogging and not keeping an eye on the skies for Santa at night.

Not all cartoon specials feature that winsome weed, but we’ll tune in on a bit of ‘A Garfield Christmas’ and lend an ear to old folks explaining love with “Mistletoe and Laughter.” Not much of a song.

More modernly, but not actually featured on a Saturday morning TV screen, Veronica Taylor and Rachel Lillis ship Ash and Misty from the ‘Pokemon’ series for “Under the Mistletoe.” It’s an animated song! (With crashing sfx.)

Not to be missed is the disturbing burlesque routine by Janet Waldo (not the usual Julie Bennett) as Cindy Bear explaining the bears and the bees to Boo Boo in ‘Yogi’s First Christmas.’ “The Mistletoe Song”  wonders how far Cindy will go and if she’ll die from kissing Yogi. He’s smarter than average, you know.

Merry Mistletoe: Sinatra, et al; Lauderdale

Grampa Frank Sinatra was really something back in 1957. His “Mistletoe and Holly” gives him a co-writer credit. He owns this old time piece of holiday celebrating, I’ll tell you that. His voice is a sensuous waltz of seduction. Brrrr.

Jack Jones hey-girls the lounge bop out of it even more.

Kidz Bop clunk together some youngsters’ harmony for their version. It’s Frank clone.

Leigh Nash injects some welcome innocence in her turn. Pop that oldie, girl.

Ms. Waskin and Radio sass up the girl parts of the next one. They sound like they’re waitin’ for a bus.

Faith Evans turns up the asthma attack with her breathy, overly percussive arrangement. It stops short of actual soul and lands in the toy department.

Just about my favey-fave is the warbling abandon from Jenny Daniels. She loses herself (and her metrical place) in this bows to the nose belt-down. Weee!

The other multitudinous mash-ups aren’t worth repeating. (Not even The Hot Sardines‘ big band finger-popping bit.)

Let’s turn this on its head for a surprise twist ending: Jim Lauderdale, a CW songwriter of note, good-ol-boy-ing “Holly and Her Mistletoe.” Not the same old hat standard at all, gang! It’s a down south dive dance tune with just a hint o’ nasty to it.

Merry Mistletoe: Vandross, Hayes

Some are confused by the odd tradition of the mistletoe. For them a quick primer from That Guy with the Glasses: “Merry Zodmas: Mistletoe.” Aliens make our culture so approachable, y’know?

If you want to just FEEL it–appropriate for the subject at hand–Luther Vandross grooves cool with “The Mistletoe Jam.” That’s putting me in the mood.

And then, if you want to fall helplessly into the dreamy state of osculability, where your lips are their own masters, then ladies and gentlemen unprick your ears succumb to Isaac Hayes “The Mistletoe and Me.”

Merry Mistletoe: key of awesome

Posting for February makes me misty-eyed for amor. I wanna ship you and you and you and you and YOU! To set the mood, we’ll decorate with a parasitic plant over doorways. A couple hundred years ago, English servants, so they say, found this frolic friendly enough. Rules may have included removing one of the white berries for each kiss limiting the playful pecks to but a few.

First off, some totally legit pop songs deal with this… yawn… bleary…what…

The only reason I might mention you J.B.’s song “Mistletoe,” is because of Key of Awesome’s totally rad parody. These guys (Mark Douglas and Ben Relles and Todd Womack) have been cranking out viral videos for 10 years–millions of youtube subscribers and billions of views. Worth it.