A couple of local radio stations have gone into their all-Christmas music mode until December 26. The starting point comes earlier and earlier -- I believe Columbus Day is the new date for holiday song number one -- but by December most of us are ready to hear something appropriately seasonal.
But then again, there are a few songs that are good for an instant channel change while driving. I'm not including songs in the "so bad they are almost good" category. I would put "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" by the Three Stooges and "Jingle Bells" by the Singing Dog in that classification. "Grandma Got Over By a Reindeer" by Elmo and Patsy has lost its charm over the years through repetition but probably still belongs in this class.
Every major pop act has come up with at least a Christmas release at one point. Here's three that just don't do it for me:
* "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney -- Remember the guy that wrote "Silly Love Songs"? Same type of song; it's tough to believe he wrote all those great hits for the Beatles and Wings.
* "Step Into Christmas" by Elton John -- Might have been interested to hear him record a classic, either fast or slow. This isn't it.
* "Please Come Home for Christmas" by the Eagles -- This band is a little too laid back for me at times, and this one is downright sleepy.
Moving up on the outside and gaining on the leaders is "Last Christmas" by George Michael.
For a funny discussion about the subject, check out this site on Entertainment Weekly's Web page. I particularly liked the opening line in the long series of comments: "'Christmas Shoes' is not only the worst Christmas song of all time, but the WORST SONG OF ALL TIME! (sorry Starship and 'We Built This City')." That's a pretty high standard.
I'm also willing to admit that the Ramones' version of "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" doesn't work particularly well. It's on Little Steven's new CD of Christmas music that is otherwise pretty terrific and worth investigating if you like this stuff.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune made up a list of bad Christmas songs. I thought a description of #4 - "Christmas on Death Row" - was particularly well-done: "Nothing says 'Happy Holidays' like the words 'Death Row' and 'EXPLICIT CONTENT.'"
Got any personal choices? Here's your chance to make them public.