Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Enough with the parodies

I like Christmas carols as much as the next holiday reveler. There are some 540 songs on my Christmas playlist on my iPod (though I am trimming the fat this year), and even though I tell myself every year I have all the songs I need, I still find myself adding a handful -- like when I stumbled across the Glee cast covering "Last Christmas" while searching iTunes for Death Cab For Cutie's cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." And then there was the trip to the supermarket when I had the good fortune to hear a radio station play a wonderfully bouncy version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" by Elvis Presley. How that one got by me until this year I'll never know. So that's three more added this year.

What I can't stand is parodies of carols being used to sell in holiday commercials. And I'm a guy who still can't get enough of "The 12 Pains of Christmas" or "Rusty Chevrolet" (though I do try to limit those listenings to when I'm alone, out of respect for others). Best Buy was bad enough this year (and I LOVE Best Buy), but now we have Marshall's and TJ Maxx doubling up on the parodies. I think this plague of carol parody commercials began a few years ago with the Garmin ads. Thanks, Garmin. (Though thank you, Mom and Dad, for the gift of GPS this year. At least it doesn't play the carol when you turn it on.)

If the retailers must use Christmas tunes as jingles, I prefer the originals (though I know that entails rights fees; whatever). I can live with that. Radio Shack's use of The Raveonettes was a big one for me, J.C. Penney's choice of The Weepies worked well, and even though the commercials are weird, the brief use of "The Christmas Song" at the end of this year's Target spots put me in the giving spirit. My all-time favorite, though -- or at least the best of this decade -- would be the J.C. Penney ads that used a mashup of Bing Crosby singing "Here Comes Santa Claus" and Fatboy Slim's "Wonderful Night." (Hurrah for Mashuptown for that link.) I don't believe the songs were ever mashed up in a full-length cut, so that snippet is all we've got.

But if some mash-savvy user could get those two tunes together, that might be the best gift of all.

So when in doubt, play it safe with the Beach Boys.

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