Another Christmas has come and gone! I'll miss the decorations, the outdoor lights, the festive music. There are, however, a few “looney tunes”, aka holiday songs, I am happy to see disappear.
This year, I heard the most ridiculous Christmas song ever, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. Listening to it was like enduring fingernails clawing a blackboard; I cringed. As a squeaky voice crooned about longing for a hippopotamus for Christmas, I wondered. What the heck does a hippo have to do with Christmas (must be the predecessor to the flying Christmas pig), and who on earth thought this annoying tune would make a great seasonal song?
As it turns out, the squeaky voice belonged to an eleven year old girl named Gayla Peevey singing lyrics penned by John Coctoasten. Well, Ms. Peevey, I'm sure your parents were quite proud that your record hit number 24 on Billboard magazine's pop chart back in 1953, but I don't want to hear about your hippopotamus ever again.
Also topping my list of the worst Christmas tunes is the all-time anthem to greed,“Santa Baby”. Oh! Santa, Baby, how I hate your song!
Written in 1953 (apparently a great year for squeaky singers) by Joan Javits, niece of Senator Jacob Javits, and sung by Eartha Kitt (known to my generation as Catwoman in the Batman television series from 1967-1968), the song playfully teases Santa Claus with requests for sables, yachts, and other extravagant gifts. I am not opposed to the tongue-in-cheek, but I don't like Eartha Kitt's voice, the words, or the repetitive melody. Admittedly, I am in the minority; Kitt had great success with the song, which has been covered through the years by everybody from Mae West to Miss Piggy, Madonna to LeAnn Rimes.
Speaking of irreverent holiday carols, let's not forget “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, which you either love or hate. I'm in the latter category. Written by Randy Brooks in 1978, the song is a popular, musical anecdote about a drunk grandma who stumbles into the snow and is subsequently accidentally killed by Santa and his reindeer. My kids think this one is hysterical (their grandmother understandably does not), but I'm not crazy about the idea of children running around singing the praises of intoxicated old ladies or greedy relatives wondering if they should keep or return the deceased's gifts.
The holiday tune I absolutely detest and refuse to listen to is “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg. Written in 1980 as an autobiographical ballad (that drones on and on) about two old flames meeting unexpectedly, the song has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. In fact, the holiday is mentioned only briefly (“the snow was falling Christmas Eve...”). Despite less than poetic lyrics describing frozen foods and bagging groceries, Fogelberg's ballad hit number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the year it was released and subsequently became forever inexplicably linked to the Christmas season. The last line in the song, “the snow turned into rain,” is my favorite; I like the imagery and the fact that it is the final line!
Christmas songs, whether of the “Ho! Ho! Ho!”, “Silent Night”, or irreverent variety elicit smiles and make people happy, but I am pleased the advancing calendar is sweeping holiday “looney tunes” under the rug...until next year.