There's a station in town that is gradually changing its format to a sports network. Starting back in October, they quit doing what they used to do and just put Christmas music on. Then there's another station that always switches format to Christmas music starting the week of Thanksgiving. So this year, if I get tired of It's a marshmallow world in the winter, thank you Dean Martin, I can switch over to hear some weird sappy tear jerker by Alabama or something bizarre like that. And immediately switch back.
It seems that everyone has a Christmas album. Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Melissa Etheridge. Lots of cheesy sounding young men I've never heard of before. Everyone seems to sing O Holy Night. Badly. But this doesn't bother me the way that so many many people have ruined Sleigh Ride.
Sleigh Ride technically has lyrics, but no one should sing them. No, scratch that. The Ronettes, of all people, are allowed to sing them. Johnny Mathis shouldn't. Really. And no one recording after Nixon resigned should ever, ever do this song.
A few nights back, I got on seeqpod and forced Mike to sit through 15 versions of this song. That's like preaching to the choir, of course, the Dave Brubeck Miles Davis Glenn Miller Choir, but I needed to demonstrate the horrors of Sleigh Ride remakes to someone (and he's married to me, so, ya know, he's used to it).
A few worth noting:
*Like I said, the Ronettes do a reasonable rendition. And it's been a long time since I've heard the Spike Jones version, but I think I remember that not sucking.
*The Squirrel Nut Zippers play it, instrumental, like it should be (the lyrics were written by someone else two years after Leroy Anderson published the score). Dixieland jazz, which is hard to mesh with the idea of "sleigh" ride, but is interesting.
*Ella Fitzgerald, who of course understands how to swing, but you have to get past the elevator music in the background. Honestly, the song opens up and I think I'm on an elevator in Stix, Baer & Fuller with my grandmother in 1982.
*The Ventures. Again, instrumental, and it's done in surfer guitar. So that's amusing.
The worst offenders?
*Amy Grant sings it in strict 4/4 time. Every note gets the very same stress and beat. There is no swing. And so much forced cheer.
*Neil Diamond. 'Nuff said.
*Spice Girls. Attention Spice Girls: You are not the Ronettes. Have you ever even been on a sleigh? Seen one?
*TLC sings some other song with these lyrics. It shouldn't even count.
*Brian Setzer Orchestra. They just try too hard. Really.
*But the worst I've heard? Air Supply. Air Friggin Supply. Again with the strict beat--in this case, a huge thudding synthesizer booming out the beat just in case the singers thought they'd do anything differently. There are evil background singers straight out of, well, Air Supply. They sample the original (or drugged a bunch of high school band members to play in the background). But it sounds like a weird joke. My high school choir could do better. My girl scout troop could do better. The last verse,
Our cheeks are nice and rosy
And comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together
Like two birds of a feather would be
actually sounds twangy, in a "I've never heard any country music but I'm trying to sound folksy" way. I don't know anything about the individual members, but when they are put together, the gestalt, as it were, proves that Air Supply has no soul and should be treated as a threat to our children and a weird plot against our culture.
For my money, it's Boston Pops or just turn off the radio. Maybe "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas" is on the other station. Or the Jackson 5 watching mommy kissing Santa Claus.