Jingle, jingle; musical tinsel and jizz.

Imagine dying to the sound of a Christmas song. Imagine the sense of anti-climax and of waste, the feeling that despite all your sins and flaws you still felt you deserved better. Slipping away to the sound of Roy Wood or Shakin’ Stevens or Paul McCartney hiccupping their way through their very own festive nice-little-earner. I suppose there might be a glimmer of joy to hear Slade blasting out as you were slowly being flattened in a bizarre steam rolling accident, but it would just be an illusion of your own making: Christmas music is still, technically, music, but it’s music only in name. If Christmas died tomorrow the last thing I’d miss would be the music. Which is saying quite a lot.

 
This year Marks and Spencer started the music at the beginning of November, a warning sign of how desperate they’re getting. If they go under next year then it should be remembered that they butchered the Christmas turkey far too early. Everywhere I go, everywhere we all go, the air is filled with the stale musical farts we’ve all been exposed to for the same 6 weeks every single year of our lives. Every. Single. Year. Of course every year a few more get added and a few of those few will become the staples of the rest of our Christmas lives to come and so the badly coopered, fat barrel of festive ditty duds continues to fill and the sickly overflow seeps out between the staves, staining everything in earshot.

 
Why Christmas music distracts us so is quite beyond me. Even further beyond me, far, far over the horizon of my understanding is Robbie Williams, a man who has trawled his limited wisdom and decided that what we need this year is a Robbie Williams Christmas album. ‘The Christmas Present’ (yes, very clever, for him) features Robbie Williams dressed like a plonker on the front and if the 2 songs I’ve heard from it on the radio are anything to go by the collected contents within must uniformly honk like the toilet bowl in a crack den. On its release Robbie also became as successful as Elvis Presley when it comes to No 1 albums in the UK. That is simultaneously flabbergasting, infuriating and depressing. The fact the album contains a duet with his dad, another with Rod Stewart and a third with Tyson Fury (that’s right, the boxer Tyson Fury) only hints further at the rot and grot within.

 

Up until this year my money on the worst Christmas song has always been ‘Stop The Cavalry’, a song so bad it makes my arms itch and my ears voluntarily fold shut. ‘Fairytale Of New York’ is the most over rated, but ‘Stop The Cavalry’ is the worst. At least the one tiny virtue it has is that it is not a cover. My new worst Christmas song is one that, miraculously, I have managed to avoid since 1982 – ‘Little Town’, by the glittered, overly tanned, saggy ball bag of Christmas that is Cliff Richard. It is many levels of appalling and for the eternal few minutes that it played on my journey home from work on Friday it had me gripped with a morbid fascination at its badness and also wrapped me in a dark, sharp fear that by some grim twist of fate the song would never end and that this would be it; the song that I would die to.

 
If you’ve never heard ‘Little Town’ then I would do yourself a (dis)favour and try it. Or re-try it if you have. It is something of an act of God that Cliff even managed to find enough musicians willing to debase themselves for money and play on the record. There are no number of showers that can ever leave you truly clean again after it has slipped into your conscience. If time travel ever happens there are few greater acts that could be committed for the goodness of human kind than to go back and make sure that song never happened. It judders and jars along in a toxic cloud of incompetence, an earnest religious dank and an objectionable lack of tune or flavour. If this was some effort to repay God for the gift of music, and hearing, then God must have felt extremely short-changed. The final miracle was that it crept to number 11 on the charts that Christmas. I was 6 years old and it seems like a cruel thing to have just thrown that song out there without thinking of the consequences – my ears are not innocent now but they probably still were, way back in 1982. A close shave, until now.

 
So that’s my little Christmas reflection for this year. Priests and rabbis and ministers get to go on the radio and talk about the many messages we can find in the things around us during the silly season, so I can’t see why I’m not allowed a pop as well. And my final thought is that there is hope out there. Only 99% of Christmas music is unbearable to the ossicles, so there is some comfort to be found in digging up the odd gem along the way: ‘Frosty The Snowman’ by the Ronettes would be a very good place to start. I suppose if you’re one of those lucky (perhaps not the word) enough to love all Christmas music, or perhaps you’re able to let it all wash over then good for you, but remember I’ll always be here to help you see the light. Unless I end up in a bizarre steam roller accident, to the sound of ‘Stop The Cavalry’; a slow death accompanied by another death that will always be too slow to measure.

 
G B Hewitt. 16.12.2019

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