Music on Trial: Not-so-traditional Christmas jingles to jangle the soul

I often listen to Christmas music to get away from the stress of finals and to shine a light at the end of the tunnel during these dark times. Gather around the tree, ladies and gents – Grandmaster Ho is about to take you on his musical journey of holiday music, so listen up.

“Braces and Caps” by Frank Lenz

Opening our musical trip is a work by Frank Lenz from the compilation “The Holidays Don’t Have to Be So Rotten Pt. 2.” I first discovered this song sophomore year around finals, and for some reason it just stuck with me. Clocking in under three minutes, this track offers a good introduction to what’s coming for Christmas which at St. Olaf means that nasty lutefisk stank this weekend with Christmas Fest.

This song somehow reminds me of this one time I got a box set of Lemony Snicket’s “Series of Unfortunate Events.” I felt so smart that I had gotten books for Christmas. Books, everyone. Hoho was going to read for Christmas! Well, read about some depressing little children and their experiences not having parents in a sickening children’s black comedy. Yeah… I don’t know why I was into that stuff, looking back now.

“Christmas in Harlem” by Kanye West

You know, I’m not leaving this playlist Yeezy-less, but I need to be real – I’ve never even been to Harlem. Sounds cool though. I think one of the lines in that song goes, “Right after autumn falls / then we gonna hit tha’ mall,” which is the ONLY thing I can relate to in this song. Malls during Christmas are insane. It’s like the saddest part about Christmas – all those things you’re buying people but wish you could buy for yourself…

“A Love Letter Christmas” by R.Kelly

Legal allegations aside about how he did all those terrible things, Kellz can sing. This is R.Kelly at his classiest, talking about some girl and how she needs to check her mail because he sent her a love letter apparently. To be honest, if I got a letter from R.Kelly, I think I’d leave it alone, too. Sorry Kellz, but I will not read your “Love Letter,” and no, I will not be your snowgirl. Ya weirdo.

“Poprocks and Coke” by Green Day

I asked my family secret santa to buy me Green Day’s “International Superhits” for Christmas one year – and he did. It was awesome. It was one of the first albums I ever got, and it was my introduction to all things Green Day. This song isn’t so much about Christmas, but I remember putting it in my red walkman and listening to the first track of this album on Christmas night. Uncle Juan was the best.

“Bye Bye Bye” by ‘N Sync

This song has nothing to do with Christmas, but Uncle Juan also bought me ‘N Sync’s “No Strings Attached” I think he for some reason assumed I was into any group of singing dudes and thus any CD with a male group on the album cover. As you can imagine, I, a young sixth-grader with utter hate for boy bands, reacted terribly. A flood of tears fell out of my eyes like in Noah’s Ark. I was so hurt that my uncle did this to me that I fled the scene as quickly as possible with tears staining my Dragonball Z dress shirt.

Sorry Uncle Juano, but I hated ‘N Sync and their lame frosted hair tips except you Justin – I thought you were pretty cool, still do. I know that album is still stuck in one of the countless drawers that my Mom hoards stuff in down in the basement I feel bad writing that, but Mama bear knows I love her!. Nevertheless, ‘N Sync will always remind me of the trials this holiday season can bring.

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole

I thought this song was by Frank Sinatra for, like, the first 15 years of my life honestly, I thought any dude that could sing well and sounded like he was recorded in the 50s was Sinatra. But bless the Google gods who helped me realize Nat King Cole was touching my soul. Those of you from Chicago know that there is a radio station that plays Christmas music non-stop from after Thanksgiving until after Christmas Day. King Cole’s a station favorite, singing about Jack Frost nipping at my nose which sounds horrifying because the vision I have of Jack Frost is from that 1997 Jack Frost horror film.

Happy finals you all. Just remember that the best holiday is just around the corner.

lopezh@stolaf.edu

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