“I want a hippopotamus for Christmas,
Only a hippopotamus will do,
Don’t want a doll, no dinky tinker toy
I want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy…”
In the last 17 days, I’ve heard “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” four excruciating times. If there’s a fifth, I won’t be responsible for my actions.
That’s one of the casualties of too much Christmas music. It’s not all “O Holy Night.” There are some bad songs out there, and unfortunately the lyrics for a stupid hippo for Christmas haunts me in my head on daily solo four-mile runs, at lunch, any time that I’m alone. I’m starting to develop a nervous tic.
Consider this a Yuletide experiment, but what if a person listened to only Christmas music for an extended period of time? Would he turn into Ebenezer Scrooge? Would he talk to himself? Would he daydream of taking the kid with the fingernails-on-chalkboard voice who wanted a hippo for Christmas and throwing him headfirst into a dumpster?
Radio station KMXJ, better known as Mix 94.1, has for several years played nothing but Christmas music continuously from right at Thanksgiving through Christmas Day. Good for them. I like Christmas music, Christmas carols, putting your own lyrical spin on old Christmas tunes.
But what if you listened to nothing but Christmas music for days and days? How would I feel then?
A promotional Christmas commercial for the station went something like this: “There’s too much Christmas music, said no one ever.”
Oh, I beg to differ.
Since the day after Thanksgiving, I’ve listened to nothing but Mix 94.1 when I’m in the car. That includes work commute, going to lunch, errands, church, assignments, whatever, just any time in the car.
So in a nothing-but-Christmas-music mode through Thursday, I’ve heard 183 songs. Of those, there were 58 different songs and multiple versions of said songs. Thirteen songs I heard at least five times or more. My whole life since Thanksgiving, like that music, has seemed to be on a loop.
Ten days in, I longed for any other kind of music like a man who gets tired of Christmas food and yearns for a supreme pizza.
I took enough “Sleigh Rides” to circle the Texas Panhandle twice. Nine times I heard “those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too...” It’s almost as if Johnny Mathis were riding shotgun and we were “snuggled up together like two birds of a feather would be…”
That song I heard the most, followed closely by the eight times of “The Christmas Song.” You know it better by, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Along about the fifth time, I wondered if anyone has ever eaten a chestnut. Ever?
And if you did eat one, did you know it was a chestnut? And if you did eat one and you knew it to be a chestnut, chances are you never roasted one on an open fire. But it must have been big in 1945 when the song was written.
One that got a surprising amount of play was “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which is the R-rated version of “Let It Snow” where the plot for both guy and girl is to stay inside and get rather cozy and avoid the harsh weather. I heard that man/woman duet seven times:
“The neighbors might think (baby, it’s bad out there)
“Say what’s in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)…”
I reached the obvious conclusion that song is more about possible date rape than Christmas.
Rockers make for bad holiday songs. Running a close second to that hippo song is Elvis’ “Blue Christmas,” which I had to endure six times, three by Elvis. The wailing in that song nearly cracked the windshield.
You know how in some hostage situations a SWAT team will blare loud sounds into a house to make the perpetrator come out? Play Elvis singing “Blue Christmas” and they’ll be streaming out in less than an hour with hands held high.
Paul McCartney may be the best songwriter of the 20th century, but “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” isn’t on his resume. Poor John Lennon, another Beatle great, just had to bring wife Yoko to the studio so she could screech part of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”
Springsteen singing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Merry Christmas, Baby” are not his finest hour. Elton John with “Step Into Christmas”? It ain’t no “Rocket Man.”
When I think of the Beach Boys, Christmas songs don’t come to mind but here I am, driving and listening to harmonic tunes of “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” “The Man With All The Toys,” and “Christmas Comes This Time Of Year” by Mike Love and the Wilson brothers.
The only rocker whose song works is David Bowie, and the famously odd pairing with Bing Crosby in the 1977 song, “Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy.” But I unfortunately only heard that twice.
As far as Christmas music, give me Burl Ives, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Bing, Jose Feliciano, Tony Bennett, Josh Groban, even a drunk Dean Martin crooning about “Rudy, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” All told, I heard them only 34 times.
But it always could be worse. Not once did I hear about grandma getting run over by a reindeer.
Jon Mark Beilue is an AGN Media columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com or 806-345-3318. Twitter: @jonmarkbeilue.