And so this is Christmas. Except it isn’t. Christmas isn’t for bloody ages, and yet here we are already, drowning in seasonal releases of varying degrees of gaucheness, gormlessness, and gloopy sentimentality.
What is it about this time of year that convinces otherwise serious-minded bands to bash out a festive tune – to curl out a Yule log, as it were?
Obviously there’s a magnificent canon of existing Christmas songs – Darlene Love’s titanically exciting ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Come)’ is one of my all-time favourite songs full stop.
But the festive tracks we’ve been hearing lately are not part of that tradition. They’re novelty records. It’s the time of year when every musician rummages around the dusty recesses of his/her B-side drawer, finds a half-formed idea and thinks, ‘Pfft, that’ll do. Can you get sleigh bells in Pro Tools?’
Hurts can do no wrong in my eyes, but their Christmas song is testing my loyalty, since it’s an alarmingly slight, Stock, Aitken & Waterman-esque confection, complete with clanging church-bell chimes of doom.
Then there’s Coldplay’s dreary ‘Christmas Lights’ with its overcooked Yuletide imagery (“Chandeliers of hope”, anyone?). Similarly downbeat is The Killers’ ‘Boots’, which conforms to the post-Low diktat that requires all “indie” Christmas songs to be massively depressing.
This month also sees the release of a Moshi Moshi Christmas EP, as well as festive tunes from The Futureheads, Tegan & Sara, and The Walkmen. Meanwhile, the less said about Goldie Lookin’ Chain’s ‘Dubstep Christmas’ the better – it’s about as funny as a Boxing Day bereavement.
Now, I’m no curmudgeon – well, obviously I am a bit – but there’s a serious point here: “Christmasiness” is a precious and evanescent thing. No-one knows exactly what it is (though feeling like a kid has a lot to do with it), but they know it when they feel it, and they know they like it.
People spend the whole of December stumbling round in a mulled wine-blurred trance, saying to each other: “Do you feel Christmassy yet?” “I don’t know, do you?” “I thought I did, for a second, but it might have been heartburn. Eggnog, anyone?”
What Christmassiness most definitely isn’t, is a commodity that can be hammered into the ground for weeks on end. It’s a fleeting thing, to be savoured for a few days, max. Preferably when you’ve finished work/uni/school and you’re back home, sprawled on the sofa, watching Scrooged.
Any earlier than December 20 and you’re ruining it. By all means let’s enjoy the nationwide festival of round-the-clock alcohol abuse that is a British Christmas. But let’s at least get the timing right. And bands? If you must pen a Christmas tune, try not to make it suck beyond belief.
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