State Extra: Puerto Rico

Time to finish up our duty-free duty:


Although i finished State Fifty: Hawaii back on the fifth of December, USA gots some provincing to do…

The people of Puerto Rico have had citizenship since 1917, and the archipelago has been a commonwealth since 1952, but PRs have regularly defeated bills to vie for statehood. More Puerto Ricans live in the continental than on the island. Poverty and unemployment are rampant. then again–party-time for touristas. And ‘West Side Story.’

Although locally colorful noeling includes La Parrandas Navidenas, and Exitos Navidnos de Puerto Rico, i no habla.

So quick pick (another Dr. Demento fave): Rickie Vera singing “How Can Santa Come to Puerto Rico?” It’s on a lovely compilation entitled Mambo Santa Mambo from the friendly folks at Rhino.


Christmas/New Year’s Day

‘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!

Christmas/New Year’s Eve

As Tonight is one of the Twelve Days of Christmas, let’s pause to give New Year’s Eve its due.

NYE is often a poor excuse to fill in a Holiday Album–even with an original, a la Alabama, Cyndi Lauper, or ABBA. It’s noisy and desperate for you to like it, like all those single guys you don’t know at your party.

Oh yeah, and there’s U2. Hardly a novelty.

Sometimes the songs are stand outs, but all emo and desperate still. Like MØ ‘s “New Year’s Eve,”or Josh Pyke’s “New Year’s Song.” Even Van Morrison’s “Celtic New Year” is pretty whiny. Pretty sentiments, punk posings. A slightly more grown up heartbroken paean to pain, Bob Larro’s “Funny What a Year Can Do” fares little better. It’s over, dude. Get a new calendar.

If you really wanna rub me the wrong way, try the children’s versions: The Kiboomers’ “New Year Song for Children,” or Olivia Olson singing for the Phineas and Ferb cartoon show with “It’s a New Year.” The Disney rock is hard to wash off. (Also see Joyce Paultrie’s teen dance bingo “Happy New Year (na, na, na, na, na)” (And then, The Fantastikids sing “Happy Happy New Year” in several languages. Run.) (Slightly more tween is Diana Meyer with “New Year’s Eve.” It’s about finding and enjoying love (LGBQT)–a positive upbeat message for once!–but it’s marred with 7th grade cliched symbolism.)

Now, if you’re not sure what a novelty New Year’s Song is, here is a compilation of ALL standards (easier to keep track of than the Christmas counterparts): “Happy New Year 2016 Songs.” Tune it in and crank it up at 10 P.M. for your boring party background serenade–dude, it’s got ALL the stars–(brace for that ABBA song first).

So let’s start the search for a properly odd New Year’s Eve Anthem. First, consider Death Cab for Cutie’s “The New Year.” It pairs well with slumping and disaffectedness, stained with just a hint of hope.

Dreadful crap also finds its way to the wining and dining and sophistication of the party to end all parties. Donny Goldberg sings nose-first through his “New Year’s Song” but through his shoddy poetry and misspelled captioning he seems uncertain whether time is moving forward or just back and forth like the lovely dancers (what’s his ‘silver spoon’ for at this party?). And there’s sax-like music to swing by.

I didn’t expect metal! Shadow plays the “Theme to New Year’s Evil” like it’s a work for hire. The 1980 slasher did what Garry Marshall now does–cash in on the calendar. But… why?

Some faraway places–esp. the Subcontinent–enjoy this holiday perhaps more than we do, with their fireworks and endless dancing and songs… my heavens the songs these cat’s yowl. Exhibit A: Vennu Nallesh singing “Wish U Enjoy New Year.” It’s one of the few in English (heavily accented with closed captioning), so i thought you’d like that.

Even more off-beat are the entries from one of my loved holiday albums: The American Song-Poem Christmas Album. Sara Stewart with the Lee Hudson Orchestra sings a languid, drunkenly mournful lament “The New Year Song.”

Dick Kent with the Lancelots sing a more forward-thinking hippie-style folk rock scolding to that last song: “A New Year’s Dawning.”

Totally subjectively i loves me some blues for New Years Eve. Charlie Robinson has some smokin’ SW border blues with his “New Year’s Day.” It’s cautionary about bad wimmin and drinkin, Believe.

Here at the eleventh hour i’ll settle for rayull nawlins blues: Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins singing “Happy New Year.” His licks count down his troubles and his hard worn vocals ring in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Hear him testify. You’ll be reborn.

Rock Parodies Made Merry: “Oddity”

1970’s “Space Oddity” was David Bowie’s first chart hit. A subsequent US album got named for it. It’s as much about drugs as it is about Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (which is as much about drugs–mind expansion–as about space travel). Some will argue Mr. Jones’s music is not technically ‘rock.’ But i argue those who listened to the branchings of rock (be it progressive, psychedelia, metal…) listened to this.

Joel Kopischke makes some dang funny yule parodies. He’s done voice over for commercials and jingles as well. Since 2005 his comedy albums jingle my bells. Back then was “I Got Yule, Babe.” Now it’s “Ground Control to Santa Claus.”

Rock Parodies Made Merry: “Believer”

Confession time. I watched ‘The Monkees’ TV show every week. I was 10. It appealed to the iconoclast rebel in me. It barely fazed me to learn later that they were a corporate formula, a formulaic band designed by committee with songs bought from legitimately contracted musicians. They rocked. “I’m a Believer” was Micky Dolenz’s 1966 anthem about gettin’ some. He was the dumb drummer and rarely got paired romantically during the sitcom’s hijinx. Go Mickey D! I’m in your corner! (The Neil Diamond penned danceable–he’d already recorded it–became, for The Monkees, the biggest selling record of 1967. And it came out right around Christmas.)

And, yeah–this is pop. Not really rock. Go take out your tree or something, ok?

The Mistletones is a who’s-that a cappella group from the ’90s who suddenly went parodical in 2012 with their witty album Naughty and Nice. Sadly their attempt to orchestrate their funny takes on pop songs included only hand-bells. Musically these are a bit off. But a big Jingle for Effort, guys. “I’m a Believer.”

Rock Parodies Made Merry: “Vibrations”

Disturbed genius Brian Wilson released “Good Vibrations” with his Beach Boys in late 1966 as a single. It explored extra sensory connections with girls (or was written on/about drugs) and rocked a theremin. It’s an overplayed classic/cliche that broke ground back in the day. It was difficult to dance to, so later we called it progressive rock.

Bob Rivers was a kooky DJ in New England who masterminded stunts like staying on air for 11 days to protest an Orioles’ losing streak. (He got fired for his parody song ‘Hyundai, Hyundai’ [cf. The Mamas and Papas ‘Monday, Monday’] because of the protests of a sponsor.) Once in Seattle he began his career of funny Christmas song parodies over several albums. He’s not the only DJ to do this, folks! But he’s good at it.

So check out his ‘paro-deus’ “Decorations.” I know you’re getting tired of them and dreading the take down….

Rock Parodies Made Merry: “19th”

The 1966 #1 hit from the ‘Stones (not Fred and Barney), “19th Nervous Breakdown” is perhaps best known from The Minions Movie of 2015. This ‘joke song’ written by Jagger and tuned up by Keith Rickards explains their mental state after touring the USA. Ha, millions of ha.

Our version today is by The ’60s Invasion, entitled “Here Comes Rudolph.” If you haven’t heard of these guys, you haven’t been to too many Long Island boomers’ parties. They are a big deal old timey rock cover band. And their sense of Xmas humor deserves your consideration.

Rock Parodies Made Merry: “Nowhere”

It’s Kwanzaa!

It’s Boxing Day!

It’s beginning to look less like Christmas.

So, to cool down from yule town, please peruse with me some classic Rock ‘n’ Roll hits sung with a holiday theme. Some of this stuff is pretty fun, and it certainly clears the head of the tune from ‘Jingle Bells.’

First up, The Beatles’ well seemed to run dry during the rock renaissance that was 1965. In order to fill an album, John Lennon wrote “Nowhere Man” in honor of not having any ideas. (Although Paul hinted it was about John’s crappy marriage.) (Hey, we used to say it was about Nixon.)

The Ineffective Subdefectives have come and gone from my internet, so let’s mine their old fun with “Big Fat Man.” Man, that’s some merry meatball!

My Top Ten on Christmas Day

As far as 2015 is concerned, i wanna hear these over and over again.

#10. My good friend, Pete the Elf, makes me laugh. He finds such cool novelty Christmas music i could plotz. He gave me a dozen disks recently and this number stood out: Rappy McRapperson singing “Gimme Stuff.” Clueless hip hop and breathless techno combines with genuinely youthful grabbiness. (I’d take that hug.)

BLUE ALERT #9. Dirty stuff works with me when it’s gleefully inappropriate. Denis Leary is hit or miss funny, but in claymation, he’s pretty fuckin’ funny.

#8. Back in the ’70s we called techno rave music electronica. It wasn’t simply addictive percussion, it was moog magic and synthesized science. It was wonderfully amazing. Here is Joy Electric’s “Lollipop Parade (On Christmas Morn).” Hardly kid music, but it takes me back.

#7. You can maybe tell, parodies float my boat. Bob Rivers is pretty good. And I love Joel Kopischke. But Robert Lund out-Yankevics them all. Here is “Santa” with a nod to R.E.M. (Beware, Santa comes off pretty creepy here.)

Elves Gone Wild

#6. My childhood music is scrambled eggs memory to me now. But when i found old vinyl from Tex Johnson and His Six-Shooters i was transported to the shag carpeted wonderland full of presents. Please enjoy the a cappella ‘cowboys’ singing about “Fum Fum Fum” whatever that is.

Tex Johnson

#5. South Park plays hard and once every fifth bit i crack a smile. Usually i nod at the excess and understand the anthropological reasons behind this satire or that angry barb. But Cartman’s “Swiss Colony Beef Log” reminds me of the religious realization of getting the expected gift.

#4. Barenaked Ladies has a dynamite Christmas/Chanukah album. It should be listened to in its entirety. I’ll point out “Christmastime (Oh Yeah)” as a stellar example of warmth and love and stuff like that.

#3. Sloppy Seconds celebrates Santa Claus Vs. the Martians with their “Hooray for Santa Claus.” It revives me from the torpor of the holidays and resurrects my spirits for the next 365.

#2. Here’s a catchy number (even the missus likes dis a one). In fact it was so seminal to my seasons’ greetings, i posted my own Youtube slide show for it. (Not my strong suit.) Not gonna go all green(sleeves) on ya, but the poor Doug firs… poor li’l things…. Celtic Elvis knows.

#1. One more Youtube that i have posted. Tarquin Records has an incredible Christmas album as well (including songs for Thanksgiving, Halloween and Groundhog’s Day). Get it! John Aley has a swing number that pops my cork and reminds me (like i need it) that i’ll never get any better present than a happy marriage.

ALMOST THERE: Christmas Eve

Nothing to do today but wait… and cook, and last-minute shop, and make travel connections, and wrap, and pretend to relax, and—ARGH.

The countdown gets confusing with far away family and time zones and stuff. Marsha Bartanetti sings “Almost Christmas Eve.” It’s big budget cool, so veneer love.

The Caroleers sing “The Day Before the Night Before Christmas” to further the countdown for good-being children.

Celine Dion has her own “Christmas Eve.” Harking and heralding and hollering about how fun the anticipation is, she tires a celebrator out.

Justin Bieber “Christmas Eve” autotunes his music almost to death. Supposedly about love, this is more rhythm than romance.

While we’re playing famous over odd, i kinda dig Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne.” That guy’s a storyteller.

Tich sings “Love on Christmas Eve” reverentially and seriously. It’s love for God, dude. You ain’t gettin’ any tonight.

Nick Gardner warbles out “Christmas Eve” all poetic and pouty. He’s so sad– Girl why won’t you give him any? Those high notes hurt a boy.

Alex Goot (“I am Goot!”) sings his “Next Christmas Eve” prettily sad as well. Full of apologies. He don’t want your present, girl; he wants YOU. Are you seeing a theme?

Accepting his apology and promising next year for sure are The Ennis Sisters with “I’ll Be There Christmas Eve.” Gentle folk is much happier than pop this time of year.

Confusing me even further are the creepy CGI wishers and prayers in Acoustic Bloom’s “On Christmas Eve.” The night is for Santa AND Jesus after all (‘star crossed lovers time divides’). Is it me or is that messed up?

Lonely? Not lonely? Donny Osmond chooses lonely on “This Christmas Eve.

She leaves Ringo on “Christmas Eve,” so he’s lonely too.

The man Alison Everill is missin’ this night is The Man. “The Night Before Jesus was Born” is hymnal, sermon, and musical theater showstopper all-in-one.

Pat Donahue’s band from Prairie Home Companion knows how to razz the roof. “Christmas Eve Morn” plays the blues for that special time of year.

Hope you’re not too broken hearted for your chores. Christmas Steve sings about “Christmas Eve Shoppers.” It’s panic-time! But his masterful ukulele-style  peaceful strumming helps my blood pressure.

Joel Kopischke may be the king of Christmas Parodies. “One Week (Until Xmas Eve)” also documents shopping  and decorating concerns. It strips the concerns of gentlemen and ladies barenaked.

Almost as funny is the Reverend Kizzo Production of “Last Christmas Eve.” Obvious, huh?

The Clovers “The Magic of Christmas Eve” accepts and excels at the last minute magic. What would Santa do, dude?

My personal hipster hero, Jesus Presley cools out with his “It’s Christmas Eve”

If you’re not home yet Michael Martin Murphy will put a quick in your giddyup with “Ridin’ Home on Christmas Eve.”

The Yule Be Sorrys mock up ‘Midnight Clear’ with “They Came Upon a Christmas Eve” Those wonderful neighborhood carolers are worse than stay cats!

‘O Holy Night’ serves as the music for the dime store novelty Cinderella Christmas song “It’s Christmas Eve” You’ve heard this one, right?

Just as astonishing but this time legal, “Christmas Eve Dinner” comes from Disney’s stable of sound-alikes for Snow White and her gang. What a party for those observing Christians!

On the other hand The Everly Brothers concede “Christmas Eve Can Kill You” Little bummer boys.

If you’re not sad enough, here’s Richard Bryant’s “Sad Christmas Eve” by Don  Hecker. Getting drunk and singing country about it don’t mix.

This last-minute night to gather yourself can result in serious side-effects: weepy nostalgia and delusions of analogy, for example. The Oak Ridge Boys sing “Daddy’s Christmas Eve.” And, you know, God was a dad just like you.

Horrible VHS quality picture, matching sweaters, aerobics-style dancing, vapid lyrics, spaceship background, non-ironic shag haircuts–it’s the 1970s!! Although this is posted as “Worst Song of Christmas Eve” i guess it’s someone’s mod update of ‘Silent Night.’ We may never know who sang this–or why.

Remember the purpose of this night though. The Wiggles will remind you with “I Just Can’t Sleep on Christmas Eve.”

Ed Rambeau wants all kids to sing his simple onomatopoetic “Come and Sing a Christmas Song (It’s Almost Christmas Day).” Hurry and sing, i fell asleep twice.

Not a fan of the Moore story “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and the parodies range from extraterrestrial to trailer trash–Bob Rivers parody of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ NOT withstanding. But I am a fan of Stan Freberg. His 1955 cool daddio character piece is heightened by his costar. Great family comedy bit. And that’s what this night is for, my dear darlings.