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I’m looking out my window and two airplanes are flying by, towing advertising banners. The first one says, “Alvin!!!!!!!!!!” and the second one says, “Get Munk’d, Dec. 14.”

I presume they are referring to some sort of upcoming movie about Alvin and the Chipmunks, a 1958 novelty song project by Ross Bagdasarian, in which he sped up his voice to sound like rodents singing a Christmas song.

It’s rather pleasing to me that the pop cultural ephemera of my childhood continues to be recycled and inflicted upon new generations. Of course, we Baby Boomers didn’t create most of the stuff we loved as pre-teens. Indeed, one reason for the enduring hegemony of our childish tastes is the failure of my teeming Baby Boom generation to come up with replacements for things like the great Christmas songs of 1934-1958.



(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
 
• Tags: Christmas songs, Movies, Music 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Nick Hornby memorably tapped into the notion of Christmas novelty song writing as lucrative by having the hero of “About a Boy” being a 30something layabout still living off of the royalty checks from his dad’s 1950s hit “Santa’s Super Sleigh.”

    Though I will say, in indie/hipster circles, the wonderful collaboration between the Pogues and the late Kristy MacColl, “Fairytale of New York” has become a Christmas season standard. Your readers might be interested in it as a brilliant evocation of the old Irish working class New York (“The boys of the NYPD choir were singing ‘Galway Bay’” as well a great melody.

  2. They may be targeting the children of baby boomers, who grew up watching the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon in the 80’s.

  3. Though I will say, in indie/hipster circles, the wonderful collaboration between…

    wake up. no one gives a crap about “indie/hipster circles”.

    “rockin’ round the xmas tree” or “jingle bell rock” will fill any dance floor on the planet this time of year. in the year 2007 or 2057. it can’t be denied. because, in the final analysis, nihilism is weak. therefore all punk rock is weak. all punk rock is quitter music. and nobody likes a quitter, you mohawked douche-bag.

    shove it! forever.

    two lame anonymous commenters. take a pseudonym why don’t you.

    brilliant evocation of the old Irish working class New York…

    old irish working class ny hate your guts!

  4. I never “got” Scoobee Do.

  5. Anonymous said:
    “They may be targeting the children of baby boomers, who grew up watching the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon in the 80’s.”

    That was my take on the upcoming movie. I’m 27 and I remember watching the 1980s Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon series on NBC Saturday mornings.

    -Vanilla Thunder

  6. My sentiments are not quite as splenetic as those of quo vadis scipio, but he’s right.

    People want Christmas songs that are either happy and fun – like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – or wistful and sentimental – like “White Christmas” or “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

    The few Christmas pop standards that have emerged since 1958 almost all meet one or the other of these criteria. For example, “Holly Jolly Christmas” is from 1962. “Merry Christmas, Darling” is from 1970.

    Note what is absent in all of the above: irony, cynicism and hopelessness.

    This is logical. Who wants an ironic, cynical Christmas? What would be the point of celebrating the holiday at all if you feel ironic and cynical about it?

    Also absent from the enduring standards is the the sort of worldly, careworn attitude seen in the egregious “Happy Xmas” by the even more egregious John Lennon: “…Happy New Year. Hope it’s a good one, without any fear.” Yeah, there’s a sentiment to put one in the holiday spirit! I heard some ghastly thing today by Celine Dion about a “Grown Up Christmas List,” which sounds like it should be about 20-year-old Scotch, first-class tickets to St Barts, and expensive prostitutes, but which is in fact about world peace. Feh.

    Besides the irony-drenched nature of modern society, which pretty much precludes songs about Christmas that are upbeat and fun or straightforwardly sentimental, there’s also the fact that songwriters today do not seem to know how to write catchy tunes. Angst-ridden lyrics, yes. Driving, danceable beats, yet. Lilting melodies and bouncy tunes? No.

  7. The new “Alvin” movie has been thoroughly HollyWEIRDED – that is to say, made degenerate and gross – if the trailer is a fair indication. In the trailer, the human catches the rodents near a small nugget of something suspiciously brown. “Al-VINNN!” yells the human. “It’s only fudge” (I’m paraphrasing from memory), protests Alvin. “Prove it!” says the human. Whereupon Alvin puts the nugget in his mouth. Human satifisfied and departing, Alvin spits it out and tells one of the other rodents “You own me BIG TIME for that!” Yuk yuk yuk.

    Also the rodents were yodeling a conspicuously urban (corporate rap) version of a Christmas song.

    All our innocent joys befouled. Thanks, Hollyweird. Who produces these things?

  8. The response comment by quo vadis scipio is one of the funniest things I have read. Ever.

    Steve, I just put “The Andy Griffith Show” episodes in my netflix queue for my children, ages 8 and under, as nothing made since the fifties is suitable. I had tried out “Little House on the Prairie” (70’s) and found myself having to explain why Mr. Edwards was acting belligerent and sick and then answering why people choose to drink alcohol if it makes them drunk.
    Most cartoons are good until the nineties.

    Country music has eluded much of what Steve Wood writes about, but has a very different problem: faux nostalgia. I think of Charles Murray and I.Q. stratification every time I hear some awful lyric that shows the songwriter is out of touch. It’s not pervasive, but definitely sizable.
    For example, “What I love about Sundays” is about all the things that are grand and glorious to the evangelical Christian blue collar class and is as sappy as it sounds. So, there is this line about looking at coupons and finding one for “35 cents off of ground round, Baby, cut that coupon out!” Sure. The thing is, Wal-Mart, where the working class and other has been shopping for about 15 plus years, doesn’t do coupons. I believe I personally cut my last coupon, for my cracker step-mom, back in 1982 (there’s a picture of the event).
    I could go on and on and on.

  9. I just put “The Andy Griffith Show” episodes in my netflix queue for my children, ages 8 and under, as nothing made since the fifties is suitable. I had tried out “Little House on the Prairie” (70’s) and found myself having to explain why Mr. Edwards was acting belligerent and sick and then answering why people choose to drink alcohol if it makes them drunk.

    Rosamund, ever heard of Otis? The Mayberry town drunk who liked to stay in the jail, where they had a nice room all fixed up for him and where they fed him Aunt Bea’s home cooking? You’re going to have to explain that one, too.

    If you’re trying to avoid having your children see drunk people, you’ll have to stay away from almost anything made in the 50s and early 60s. People drank like fish back then and were damn proud of it, God bless ’em.

    Seriously, I don’t think there was any drinking on Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best. They really are a bit treacly, though.

  10. So, there is this line about looking at coupons and finding one for “35 cents off of ground round, Baby, cut that coupon out!”

    So I went and listened to the song and…the guy reads the Sunday NYT? Is this accurate?

  11. The producers of today’s country music are very different from “the evangelical Christian blue collar class.” They are producing/recording/writing songs about a people who is not them. Like East Indians writing about American blacks. Some goofy gaffes will appear.

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