Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 3, 2012

Ah, sounds of the season, how I loathe thee

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — “Home Alone” is one of my least favorite movies of all time. The plot, if one could describe it as such, focuses on a budding psychopath, who, after badgering his extended family for a day is forgotten on Christmas Eve and is left to beat the ever-living snot out of a pair of mentally bereft criminals with a series of “Saw”-esque Rube Goldberg contraptions. With the number of assault charges surely pending against the protagonist, the sequel should have been called “Home Alone 2: Lost in the Justice System.”

    There’s something about the holiday season which brings out the absolute worst pop-culture schmaltz all in the name of the Christmas spirit. Whether we’re being bathed in the sachyarine charms of any number of sub-par “A Christmas Carol” adaptations or any number of frankly obnoxious Yuletide tunes, a person would be excused for pouring themselves several rather large glasses of spiked egg nog.

    Part of that comes from the commercialism of the holiday, and nothing represents that quite as easily as the song “Santa Baby.” Originally recorded by late great Eartha Kitt in 1953, “Santa Baby” was a cheeky, poppy and, frankly, a little sexy celebration of getting exactly what you want for Christmas.

    Fast-forward 50 years and “Santa Baby” has been put through the ringer so many times it might as well start a cabaret themed circus.

    Every female pop star that has ever been labeled a sex symbol has put their own increasingly sleazy and burlesque take on the song. The phenomenon reached its natural low in 2006 when the Pussycat Dolls of taking your clothes in public fame put their own sleazy, glitter covered tramp stamp of approval on the song. It’s a grossly greedy take on the song, performed by women wearing little more than tinsel, all without even the smallest bit of the sarcastic bite Kitt effortlessly gave the track.

    It’s not just secular tunes that have had this sort of misfortune. The Christmas semi-classic “Little Drummer Boy” has always stoked my ire, mostly for the lyrics over anything else. The song, ostensibly an uplifting take on offering Jesus whatever gift you can, has always painted a strange picture for me.

    As the lyrics go, the eponymous diminutive drum player is brought into the manger to honor the baby Jesus. After getting an approving nod from Mary, he starts playing. And playing. And playing. And playing. “Little Drummer Boy” has the odd distinction of being one of the longest Christmas carols, especially for one that is mostly composed of singers making drum sounds.

    Now, I’ve never given birth. I don’t know exactly what new mothers are feeling and thinking after having a child but they can’t be excited to listen to 3 1/2 minute drum solo. I’d like to think one of the wise men may have ushered this New Testament John Bonham to exit stage-right.

    I could go on for hours. I don’t know if you, the esteemed reader, has noticed, but I tend to rant a little bit. I’m working on it. Really, Christmas is a time for the family, a time to celebrate the end of the year and the community and life we all share.

    But is it too much to ask for a silent night once in a while? I swear, things are going to get rough if I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” one more time.

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.