As Seen on TV: My So-Called Life

A homeless person singing about home is touching enough to almost count as a Christmas song. When the show spawns a thousand hipsters and the pop/folk song is sung by Lemonheads’ Juliana Hatfield, then we must pay attention–quick–before the character freezes to death. “Make it Home” in its entirety here. On the show here:


As Seen on TV: JAG

This show only lasted 10 seasons, so it’s no NCIS. But this show gave us a couple songs. Guest star Erica Gimple sings “We’ll Catch Up” (not too Christmassy and only half a song, but amazingly uninterrupted) and “Wishing It were Christmas” with a USO PSA. Now that’s a holiday assault.

As Seen on TV: The Nanny

This formulaic yet well cast sitcom inspired foreign TV (usually the other way around) with the power of personae. The 1995 Christmas special ‘Oy to the World’ did not apologize for a JAP in a WASP-hold, but shrugged and whirled in cartoon form.

The minute and a half showstopper midway through the morality lesson showcases Daniel Davis as the head elf Elfis welcoming Fran Drescher to Santa’s toyshop. No helpful Youtube exists of this song, so i hacked it as best i could.

As Seen on TV: Rocko’s Modern Life

Many of these cartoons don’t have much to offer in the way of specially written tunes. Sometimes there’s just enough to get me to notice. The wallaby-based series (a try out for the makers of SpongeBob), did what it liked including a couple cool dance tunes in the background of a Christmas episode.

We’re Gonna Party” is dance music Rocko plays at his own party. Sparkly club swing.

The electronica “Ho Ho Dance” seems to be Santa’s workshop  soundtrack. Definitely dance while you work. Then try some more ritalin.

As Seen on TV: Rugrats

Nine seasons with 2 spinoffs, but the kids who cared were grown and everyone else thought it was creepy. The holiday album Rugrats Holiday Classics is delivered after the original series ended. That’s why you probably haven’t heard of it.

It’s all half-asleep parodies milking the misheard lyric premise of stupid babies. Okay, a couple at least try.

Rugrats Chanukah” is ‘The Dreidel Song’ with a cheap electronic keyboard honking at kvetching children.

Heck, Why is Santa Always Jolly?” pokes fun at our Big Red Guy. Kids are so mean. To ‘Deck the Halls.’

1980s pop and lock rock marks “Oops! Santa Got Stuck!” about Santa ‘Up on the Rooftop’ while Chuckie jest gotsta go wee!

“Toys for the Girls” has Angelica bull-leading a female chorus celebrating the new baby, oddly enough. Maybe Jesus, maybe her baby brother (uhh, that was a miscarriage).

As Seen on TV: Ren & Stimpy

Thus begins the nuevo wave-o of ’90s cartoons from cable channel Nickelodeon. The disgusting dog and cat gross-fest woke up a new generation previously taught not to pick their noses in public.

By 1993 a holiday album Ren & Stimpy’s Crock o’ Christmas an original story spunoff of their Yaksmas holiday shenanigans. I have offered songs from here before, so let’s mention a couple new ones before i barf.

Concert rock is the platform for the contrariness of “Decorate Yourself.” Should have mentioned this one earlier. Starts out amusingly….

Ren has the holiday blues for the whole album, despite Stimpy’s antic efforts to cheer. “I Hate Christmas” is the hilarious plot twist revealing the fat dog still grumbles. Smooth lounge blues.

Father-son sentimentality is pretty straightforward in “What is Christmas?” which i guess reveals the irony of the ’90s. If it’s honest emotion, sneer for all you’re worth. Quiet pop.

As Seen on TV: Animaniacs

A contender for overall best wit for the young, this ’90s Steven Spielberg produced foray into WB Kids attempted to bring vaudeville to the end of the century. Middling results.

The First Noel (parody)” is much more comic than previously sampled songs so far. Punny!

Their pinnacle is their ‘Christmas Carol’ takeoff (Wakkoff?) trying to moralize capitalistic Taxman Plotz, with the songs “Ghost of Christmas Past,” “Ghost of Christmas Present,” and “Ghost of Christmas Future.” Love the all-out orchestration.

As Seen on TV: A Different World

Originally a spinoff from The Show of He-Who-Must-Not-be-Named, this college-set sitcom featuring race relations and whatnot came into its own balancing haha and uhoh way back in the day before woke was a thing you said.

Costars included Sinbad and Jada Pinkett, but one episode had Patti LaBelle singing a snippet of her own Christmas song “Nothing Could be Better.” Popspel.

As Seen on TV: The Simpsons

The juggernaut of prime time cartoons has outlasted the age of irony, post-irony, and colonial irony. Naturally most of its holiday contributions are parodies of carols (caroldies).

The 39 Days of Christmas” (sorry about all the non-song bits) came after “The 12 Days of Christmas (parody).” “The Grinch (parody)” nobody remembers. (Get that poster a tripod for Christmas.)

Better are the Nutcracker bits.

The holiday-inspired “Everybody Hates Ned Flanders” is the winner here, by a single Homer hair. (I mean, David Byrne covering…!) [To discover why this is considered a carol, watch the poorly recorded 40 second intro here–then stop watching.]


As Seen on TV: Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends

An independent TV toon that’s lasted for decades and offered music too, this playground of stereotypes need to work through their childish ways and become stiff upper lipped. And sing about being of use (why do i think of Boxer in Animal Farm?).

Not a follower, but i can tell “Glynn’s Christmas Wish” is later on with the uncanny valley scariness of the computer animation. Nice Brit pop story.

More derivatively carol-like, “There’s Snow Place Like Home” just sells it all the way out. Learn, kids, learn!

Less hyper, “It’s Christmas Time” is a measured consideration of pomp and celebration. Stand straight when you sing this one. Then you’ll get a lump of coal in your throat.