Best, worst holiday tunes this season

Kevin Speirs

For some enthusiasts, the Christmas music season began on Nov. 1, while others wait until after Thanksgiving.

By now, we are indisputably in the Christmas season, and public places not playing Christmas music are few and far between.

Of course, they also play that Adam Sandler song and maybe the dreidel song once in awhile just to keep it politically correct, but it’s Christmas time.

The 20th century brought the most drastic change in the Christmas music scene.

Some of the classics date back a few hundred years, like “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” “Silent Night” and “Oh Holy Night,” but over the past century more and more songs have appeared – many adding to the beautiful nostalgia that is Christmas, while others are abominations to music and the Christmas season.

Christmas music today can be split into two distinct groups: Christmas songs and songs that happen to mention Christmas.

Those belonging to the latter group just use the mention of Christmas to gain more radio play in a time where the pool of available music is distinctly smaller.

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” defines this category. The lyrics mention everything about Christmas, but the focus is on the love interest. With only a few lyric changes, the song could easily become, “All I Want for My Birthday is You.”

The worst of these songs that mention Christmas is “Christmas Shoes.”

The Christmas season should be about coming together and enjoying each other’s company, along with all of the other religious aspects. “Christmas Shoes” is a sick way of using Christmas to make everyone’s mother cry and feel bad about having a good time.

The song was even ranked No. 1 in the book “The 52 Most Depressing Songs You’ve Ever Heard.” This is Christmas – making people sad is the last thing that should be done. You can’t do that.

Other songs that just don’t belong in existence are Christmas parodies, like “The Twelve Pains of Christmas.”

These songs are simply terrible attempts at making a funny song. They don’t add anything to the Christmas season except something to bring down the good mood.

Although there are a few blemishes on the Christmas music scene, there are also plenty of timeless classics that are great for the season.

One name comes to mind immediately: Bing Crosby. Crosby has probably gained more fame for his Christmas tunes than his acting or other music.

Andy Williams, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra all have great holiday records as well.

Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” album sometimes gets lost in the mix, but most people cannot deny his smooth, velvety voice when he sings, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire / Jack frost nipping at your nose.”

James Taylor came out with a folk Christmas album a couple years ago that creates a soft Christmas sound, perfect for a room with a nice fireplace.

Motown renditions are a fun way to listen to the classics. Diana Ross, The Temptations and The Jackson 5 all offer some good times.

A childhood favorite for most is the Chipmunks. Somehow, three annoying high-pitched voices found their way into the hearts of children, remaining there forever.

For the indie kid who tries to not like Christmas but actually does, Bright Eyes has a Christmas album that benefits the Nebraska AIDS project.

The “Have Yourself a Merry Indie Christmas” compilation has songs from artists ranging from Sufjan Stevens to Death Cab for Cutie.

Hillary Duff and similar artists have Christmas albums for the annoying little sister.

Even hip-hop enthusiasts can have a good time at Christmas. Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” has made its way into that “classic” category. If one song doesn’t suffice, “Christmas on Death Row” should be able to provide enough Christmas rap.

There are even Christmas songs for Satan-worshiping metal heads. Metallica has a few songs out there.

For the epic metal head, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra offers a classical orchestra playing Christmas songs with the help of some face-melting guitar solos.

The best Christmas album, however, is the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Everyone knows how amazing the TV special is, but without the music, it wouldn’t have been nearly as great. The whole album has a soothing warm feeling that perfectly fits the soft nostalgia of Christmas.

Even though the Christmas music scene has a few blemishes, every music fan can find something that they like for the Christmas season.