Friday, December 16, 2011

Schlocky songs of the retail season

I saw the above comic at XKCD, and it made me laugh in that rueful way that we Gen-X types tend to laugh about the cultural dominance of the Baby Boom generation. It's funny because it's true.

What's also true is that there's only one religious song on the "Baby Boom" chart area, and only two on the whole chart. Which is one of the reasons that being bombarded with so-called "Christmas music" on radio stations, in stores, and in public places from about the end of October until noon on Christmas Day is so deeply, deeply annoying.

It's not that I want to be racing through some ugly ShopMartGoGetBuyStore while being serenaded by religious songs, either; in fact, there's little in life that's more jarring than doing some Christmas shopping while hearing some electronically-enhanced minimally talented pop star jazzing up Silent Night or something similar. To focus in on the Babe of Bethlehem is to realize with a sickening sense of shock that our culture is absolutely mad in its consumerist frenzy which just happens to coincide with that holiday Christians call Christmas.

At least it's the secular songs that most often get parodied in commercials, particularly car commercials. No, I don't want to celebrate "Happy Honda (tm) Days," and no, I don't think the current Nissan (tm) sale is "The Most Wonderful Sale of the Year." But it would be a heck of a lot more offensive if someone started singing "O Come, All Ye Shoppers," "What Deal is This?" or "Savings We Have Seen on High," or some such stupidity.

There are nine more days left of Advent, which means nine more days of being surrounded by the verbal equivalent of cheap tinsel. After that, when the Christian world actually begins celebrating the Christmas season, the stores will be busily dealing with Christmas returns and gearing up for the next big retail holiday, the January Clearance/pre-Valentine's Day Sale. But at least we won't be bombarded with special schlocky songs during that retail season; at least, we'll only be bombarded with the usual schlocky songs that stores play for our ceaseless torment.


Deirdre Mundy said...

The Bing Crosby Christmas CD actually has a decent mix of religious and secular. We alternate between that and the Monks of St. Meinrad Advent/Christmas album...

freddy said...

There are some secular Christmas songs or songs that have become associated with Christmas that I do enjoy. (The Nutcracker, Boar's Head Carol, Wassail Song, Deck the Halls, for example.)

I don't really mind hearing Christmas songs during Advent, but three things really bother me.
1. Christmas songs playing in the stores a week or two BEFORE Thanksgiving.
2. Stupid, self-serving "Christmas" songs badly over-acted by popular singers. (I'm looking at you, "Santa Clause is Comin' to Town"/Bruce Springsteen)
3. No Christmas songs during the Christmas season proper. Hey, I'm celebrating, here!

On the other hand, maybe the retailers shouldn't find out that some people party 'til Epiphany!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Please, don't give the advertising execs any bright ideas. Rod Dreher still knows by heart a long ago 7-Up commercial based on "Good King Wenceslas." (My second or third favorite, ranking with "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Coventry Carol").

In Christmas music, and in the mostly Protestant modern phenomenon known as "praise music," I have a definite preference for songs about the holiday, or about God, rather than, about the ways of celebrating, or, what I call "watch me do my praise" songs.

Presents and dinner are nice, but it is hardly necessary to sing about how good they make us feel.

Elizabeth said...

Whoever plays the songs listed in the Baby Boom part of that comic must be crazy.

We're the generation who hated everything our parents did - remember? Couldn't wait to toss the idyllic Ozzie and Harriet/Father Knows Best/Leave It to Beaver lives we allegedly had as kids over the dam and start running amok.

Seriously, I was sick of those songs before high school. The ad nauseum overplay suggests a serious lack of creativity and research.

Silence is golden.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

I didn't have a Leave It To Beaver childhood, or even a Happy Days childhood. I had a Dandelion Wine childhood.