I am a Christmas music junkie.
Hell I am a Christmas junkie full stop.
But one of the things I love most about the season, and which I appreciate many other people hate (especially those in retail who are listening to festive tunes from October onwards), are the Christmas tunes that form the warm-and-fuzzy soundtrack to all the festivities.
And every year there are a slew of new albums from artists we love celebrating age old carols such as “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful”, and modern classics such as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “All I Want For Christmas is You”.
But what about those songs that never find their way into the tinsel-fringed spotlight? The ones that don’t quite fit the Currier and Ives mold, that by virtue of bucking convention will never make it onto the soundtracks for a Hallmark Christmas special or a Michael Buble album?
Well fear not because a new documentary Jingle Bell Rocks!: Searching For the FLIPSIDE of Christmas Music, which has screened at film festivals like The New Orleans Film Festival, aims to uncover these unheralded festive gems as Paste Magazine notes:
“We meet those hardcore Christmas music enthusiasts (and those who dare to make it) in Jingle Bell Rocks!, director Mitchell Kezin’s search for the 12 greatest, underrated Christmas songs of all time.
The documentary delves into social history, pop culture pilgrimages, interviews and archival footage to follow the story of undervalued Christmas music. It also features appearances from Rev. Run, Wayne Coyne, novelty-music baron Dr. Demento, and cult filmmaker John Waters.”
It doesn’t matter if you’e a Christmas music tragic, or someone who flees a room the moment the opening notes of “White Christmas” course through the speakers, this looks like a fascinating look at the people who make the Christmas music we rarely hear and the people who go out of their way to hear it.
Jingle Bell Rocks! opens in select US cinemas in December and arrives on DVD November 28.
Speaking of modern Christmas classics, and somewhere up there we were, Kristen Bell has grabbed the zietgeist well and truly by the festive short-and-curlies, releasing a song that speaks to our modern obsession with relating to everyone we know, whether it calls for it or not via social media.
Her of-the-moment song “Text Me Merry Christmas”, which she recorded with a capella group Straight No Chaser, is an intentional soft-satire, far cry from the in-person festive longings of old but a possible look at songs of Christmas future as TIME notes:
“The lyrics (“I’ll go ‘neath the mistletoe and pretend my screen is you”) are a very intentional far cry from romantic songs of Christmases past, in which lovers kissed using the old-fashioned technology of lips and facial muscles …
It may be out of fashion to lament the adverse effects of technology. But it’s not hard to imagine that a day will come when we yearn for the close and personal touch of a winking emoji.”
This could of course mean that Mariah Carey may have to re-record her runaway popular Christmas classic song, re-titling it “All I Want For Christmas is ME (in Frame)”.
What Christmas celebration would be complete without just a touch of Scrooge/The Grinch behaviour?
Not that I am advocating that you should include it in your festivities – let’s face it, if you were inclined to those kind of “Bah! Humbug!” sentiments, it’s highly you’d be celebrating Christmas in the first place right? – but should it crop up, then you would at least be honouring the spirit of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic novella A Christmas Carol.
Grumpy Cat of course, who premiered his festive special, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever on Lifetime on November 29, in which the unhappiest cat in the world is voiced, quite appropriately by Aubrey Plaza who plays the endlessly joyless April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation, must be the queen of all Scrooge tribute makers since that is pretty all she does, not just at Christmas but all year round.
Even if, like me, you find the idea of not wholeheartedly embracing every last centimetre of tinsel, turkey leg and gaily-decorated everything at Christmas an astoundingly weird idea, you’ll find something to make you laugh about in this most un-Christmas-y (and yet totally Christmas-y) of festive specials …
Now, and shhh you need to make like Santa Claus is placing your presents under the tree and be whisper quiet so he doesn’t know you’re
stalking watching him, I have two more videos for you which strictly speaking places me over my self-imposed limit of three.
I won’t tell the headline if you won’t.
First up is Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singing the Carl Sigman/Peter DeRose 1949 Christmas song “Marshmallow World” as part of Target USA’s Christmas ad campaign this year (source: Stereogum) and then this year’s much-anticipated ad for UK department store chain John Lewis whose iconic, heartwarming Christmas ads have become an integral part of a British Christmas (source: Laughing Squid).