Archives for : December2014

Christmas Music Factoids

I felt a little bad about my only Christmas music post being a negative one, even though complaining is more or less the purpose of this site. I considered countering Top Five Worst Christmas Songs with Top Five Best Christmas Songs, but the more I thought about it the more I felt that such a post wouldn’t be remotely interesting. Favorite songs are so subjective, and there’s only so many ways of saying “I like this song – it reminds me of Christmas.”

In the course of researching the last article I found myself wondering about the origins of a lot of the famous Christmas standards that play on continuous repeat every December. The religious songs, of course, all developed from hymns, but what about the secular ones? Many of them are so old and have been recorded by so many artists few people know where they originated.

Since it’s become such a go-to conversation starter for me this month, I thought I’d share some random facts about famous Christmas songs that came up in my Wikipedia perusing:

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The Best Movies Ever – Bad Santa

Bad Santa

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Bad Santa. It was late at night on Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t fall asleep. Even though I was an adult at that time I still had a bit more of that childlike anticipation that keeps you awake on the night before Christmas. I had recently moved out of my parents’ house, and was feeling just a little homesick. I turned on the TV – Comedy Central was playing Bad Santa uncut and uncensored, which meant that in order to compensate for the FCC fines they’d receive for playing such content on basic cable, they had to double down on commercial time. There was 4 minutes of movie followed by 5 minutes of commercials, ad infinitum. It’s a maddening way to watch a movie.

Nevertheless, it was so much better and so much funnier than I expected! When Bad Santa first came out, I had no interest in seeing it. I wasn’t down for the crass debasement of Christmas that it seemed like, and the comedy was marketed as being dumber and more lowbrow than it actually is. Bad Santa is raunchy, make no mistake. But it’s earned raunchiness. All of the explicit content develops naturally from well-written characters.

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The Five Worst Christmas Songs

Toby Keith Christmas

I know… this seems like yet another excessively negative article, but sincerely, I love Christmas music! I was going to actually first write a Top Five Christmas Songs list, but it would be too hard to limit it to only 5 – and, I wouldn’t have anything terribly interesting to say about them.

But most people out there have some level of a love-hate relationship with Christmas music. It’s a guilty pleasure, one that has so many ways of being off-putting, and invokes a lot of conflicting emotions. I find that despite its excessively saccharine, commercial nature, I’m all about Christmas music during the month of December (and ONLY the month of December). The problem is there are only so many mainstream songs about Christmas, and terrestrial radio only puts a relatively small number of those on constant rotation. And some of them are just terrible… 

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The Best Movies Ever – Home Alone

HomeAlone

Kicking off the Christmas edition of Best Movies Ever – the indulgent fantasy of every child of the 90’s, Home Alone.

It’s ingenious how effectively this movie, written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, plays to a kid’s sympathies. The Christmas setting, the notion of complete and utter freedom from your parents, the power to outwit adults, the overcoming of irrational fears, and the feeling of being a confident hero are all at the core of Home Alone. But it’s not the kind of movie you really outgrow – it’s made well enough for adults to enjoy, partly thanks to the superb casting.

Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are brilliant as the burglers, and until the booby traps start going off they even seem like relatively realistic (if cliche) criminals. Of course, once they do start pratfalling on ice and getting burned by rigged blowtorches it’s hysterical to watch Joe Pesci try to act convincingly frustrated without saying “motherfucker”. Imagine how many ruined takes… 

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The Best Movies Ever – Christmas Edition

I’m slightly irritated that I already covered Love, Actually during my first Best Movies Ever Review  marathon, because now I’m feeling obligated to pick the series back up and just do Christmas movies whenever I have time to write between now and the 25th. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

(Have a look at my Love, Actually review here.)

The bizarrely specific premise I used for the first run of Best Movies Ever applies pretty handily to Christmas movies, actually. Famous movies that everybody enjoys watching but aren’t what you call “high art”. That’s Christmas movies, music, food… hell, that kind of describes Christmas itself when you think about it.

Not sure how many movies I’ll get around to reviewing, but the first one will be coming VERY soon.