Beloved former EDSBS contributor Luke Zimmermann contacted us last week about giving you all a little holiday nightmare music rundown. Because you'll get presents you don't deserve from other people, we said yes, so as to even out the moral playing field a bit. Enjoy, you monsters!
I've been thinking a lot lately about time. When you really cook on it, we're all just infinitesimally small plots on an equally insignificant sample of a much longer line graph.
But even when we've been course corrected as the rounding errors that we are, something will live on our absence:
the immortal musical stylings of late 90s/early 2000s bro rock.
Whether you call it something you're almost assuredly embarrassed to say in mixed company, "Proto-Softboy," or "F*ckboy Pop," the ethos of these (mostly white) children of the 80s centered around two things: getting paid and/or getting laid. Their art was merely an extension of this compass, and it bleeds through with every only-slightly-not-mailed in word play and chord progression.
In the true spirit of the season (see: commercialism), many of these acts even took stabs at Christmas songs. Be it original tunes, covers, staples, or worse, the sonic war crimes vary in severity, our ears and sensibilities the survivors of a war we never voted to enter in the first place.
Though some are more palatable than others, for posterity's sake, I've catalogued a dozen of the best (worst?) of these endeavors. Like an Alan Lomax guided by the Roman poet Virgil, I've gone where no man should for your meta-ironic benefit. This is an EDSBS White Elephant party and the only two people who showed up are you and I.
When you and yours have long since departed, take solace: 1000 years from now, an advanced alien species will come to our planet, they will listen to these tunes and they will promptly go back to wherever they came from. And though you'll be but a speck of space dust you can take pride that you played but a small part in saving the universe as we know it. And that's all any of us can ask for this time of year, isn't it?
1. "THIS CHRISTMAS" - TRAIN
If there's a Christmas album title than more quickly conveys music for assholes by assholes than "Christmas In Tahoe" (in fairness, I would love to Christmas in Tahoe; please send me, Train), I haven't heard it.
I promise you'll feel weirdly embarrassed to be listening to this DONNIE HATHAWAY cover. And that's really the point of this whole exercise, isn't it?
2. "FATHER CHRISTMAS" - SMASH MOUTH
The biproduct of an entirely dedicated Smash Mouth X-mas album (some parts more cringe-inducing than others), this particular track felt like it would strip paint if the backing music was isolated and muted from the lead vocals track.
And there's something inherently offensive on paper about Smash Mouth covering The Kinks in any context.
3. "A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS" - ROB THOMAS
What if Bruce Horsnby had a crippling gambling debt and the only way he could remedy it was by channeling Matchbox Twenty's forgettable sophomore album "Mad Season"?
My vote personally goes for fearless leaders's cover.
4. "LAST CHRISTMAS" - DEXTER FREEBISH
A wild one hit wonder appears.
"Last Christmas" is the best/worst Christmas song ever and I will ride for the original for no reason beyond my clearly self evident deeply flawed taste in music.
This cover channels all the best of the John Lennon songwriting contest winning "Leaving Town" you probably forgot even existed.
5. "ONE OF THOSE CHRISTMAS DAYS" - THIRD EYE BLIND
Let's go to Amazon Customer Reviews for this one
One Of Those Christmas Days" is a raucous and irreverent holiday song originally tossed off in 1998 (not 2000) for the Elektra promotional sampler "In The Spirit." The song's overall tone (and goofy musical tenor) is rather atypical for the normally earnest Third Eye Blind - which is why I like it.
6. "SILENT NIGHT" - LIFEHOUSE
Jonah Keri's personal holiday hell. The accordion makes it all of ours.
7. "I BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS" - VERTICAL HORIZON
What if the bro-dudes that did "Everything You Want" covered Lake from Emerson, Lake & Palmer? I'm glad you asked.
8. "WE THREE KINGS" - FUEL
12-string guitar and pain. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?
9. "WHERE MY CHRISTMAS LIVES" - 3 DOORS DOWN
We've entered the "ORIGINAL CHRISTMAS TUNE" portion of the program.
It is exactly how you imagine it is.
10. "BETTER DAYS" - GOO GOO DOLLS
You've heard this. Did you know it was a Christmas song?
The "Iron Man 3"/"Die Hard" of our musical journey, this song was written/recorded for a Target Christmas compilation, includes a weird Jesus reference, and then somehow turned into the lead single on their next album.
So you go through the motions of doing a song for a big box store's Christmas album and it turns out to be better than an entire album of your own's worth of material? Game respect game, folks.
11. "MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY" - SISTER HAZEL
Otis Redding didn't die for this.
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For your listening pleasures, this holiday miracle in Spotify playlist form: