When I really want to get in the spirit of the season, I like my Christmas carols not just Old School, but Old World. I prefer a Celtic-tinged instrumental version of "The Holly and the Ivy" or "Silent Night," over the more saccharine sappiness of modern holiday tunes. This is the difference between a tasteful evergreen wreath over a doorway, versus the animatronic Dancing Santa available at your local convenience store.
However, for every nice, there is a naughty. Even though part of me prefers the classical — and classier — side of Christmas music, sometimes I want to take a turn down that dark, smoke-filled alley into the "seven deadly sins" of contemporary holiday tunes:
Lust: "Baby It's Cold Outside," written by Frank Loesser.
This sultry song it just plain sexy, when done right. Currently, it's getting attention, as the "reason-to-be-offended" item of the month from the politically correct, who claim it promotes date rape.
I don't see that. I sense a pas de deux of seduction, played by both parties.
There's a current "sexless" version of this song out today, but it sounds, well, castrated.
If there's no hint of a cozy canoodling in the future, then really, what’s the point?
Envy: "Elf’s Lament," Barenaked Ladies.
If you love clever lyrics, geeky references and catchy tunes, there's no better band than Barenaked Ladies. Here, they take a hard look at class envy and labor issues in the gritty world for Santa's workshop:
You look at yourself you're an elf
And the shelf is just filled with disappointing memories
Trends come and go and your friends wanna know
Why you aren't just happy making crappy little gizmos.
You gotta love an embittered elf.
Wrath: "Fairytale of New York," by The Pogues.
I'm not violent, but apparently show my "Irish temper" when properly provoked. So does this favorite Pogues tune of mine set on Christmas Eve.
Ya scumbag, ya maggot, ya cheap lousy faggot.
Merry Christmas your arse, I pray God It's our last.
Don't make Christmas carols angry. It get's ugly.
Pride: "Do They Know It's Christmas," by Band Aid.
How dare I associate this selfless song with "pride."
I know. This is a "beautiful song that shows the horrible reality of people living in abject poverty, and if you purchase a copy you feed a family for a year."
Proceeds may go to a good cause, but that doesn't change the fact there's room full of self-important pop stars proudly patting themselves of the back for their compassion. Ironically, I'm feeling a little improperly smug pointing out that fact.
Greed: "Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt.
Nothing glitters like gold…or golddiggers.
Skip the nauseating Betty Boop-ish Madonna version, of this "gimme, gimme" song. Eartha Kitt is as good as it gets. She’s Catwoman, for cryin' out loud! She notorious for taking what she wants, and manipulating a poor old man living in cold isolation with a bunch of elves most of the year to get it, too.
Sloth: "Merry Christmas From the Family," by Robert Earl Keen.
Living in West Texas, I knew Keen's music before this holiday song became his biggest hit. It is a perfect embodiment of stereotypical chain-smoking trailer park denizen. Yet, somehow, they are also weirdly familiar and endearing. Sit back, watch the game, and have a margarita…or six with these folk.
Gluttony: "The Season’s Upon Us," by Dropkick Murphys.
I've saved the best for last. There is plenty of gluttony in this song, as well as whisky, brandy, eggnog, and pretty much an excess of all seven deadly sins together in one raucous romp:
Some families are messed up while others are fine
If you think yours is crazy..well you should see mine.
Until you've heard this one, you have know idea much "fun" there is in dysfunctional.
When sugar plums dancing in your head gets a little too sweet, enjoy these guilty pleasures. There's "mischief and mayhem and songs to be sung."