Holiday Triumphs: Several Tidings of Great Joy

Continuing the fabled tradition begun all the way back in 2009, Scratchbomb presents Holiday Horrors and Holiday Triumphs: an advent calendar of some of the more hideous aspects of this most stressful time of year–with a few bits of awesomeness sprinkled in.

I can not, in good conscience, let my last holiday post be about Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny. So here’s a few of my favorite Christmas-y things to spirit us through the depressingly brief portion that remains of this festive season.

First off, a Yuletide rocker that is quite popular in England but that has never caught on here in the US. It’s “I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day” by Wizzard, a band headed by Roy Wood, formerly of The Move and ELO. It sounds like an outtake from the Phil Spector Christmas Album in the best possible way, very Wall of Sound-y, with Motown-esque beat that shall not be turned away from the inn.

Next, Steve Martin’s Five Christmas Wishes, which still makes me laugh as much as it did when I first heard it as a jaded young’un. This new intro to it is pretty great, too, though it sounds like it went over with the studio audience like a lead balloon, those philistines. What are they, 92nd Street Y season ticket holders?

I’ve been feasting on this Christmas rarity lately: XTC’s “Thanks for Christmas” (which they actually recorded under the name The Three Wise Men, with composition credited to “Balthazar/Kaspar/Melchior”).

The trajectory of the Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet on “The Little Drummer Boy” is unlikely, and extraordinary. It languished in obscurity for years. When remembered, it was often lumped in the same category as other garish, weird variety shows of the 1970s. But in recent years, it’s gotten a revival, to the point that you will actually hear it in malls during Christmastime now.

The story goes that Bowie was game to join this special, but threw a monkey wrench in the works when he told the producers he hated “The Little Drummer Boy” (and one can hardly blame him). So the songwriters cranked out a quick contrapuntal tune for him to croon while Der Bingle sang the real song. The result: holiday magic. This is the absolute only way I can accept “The Little Drummer Boy.”

No Yule would be complete without a stirring rendition of “A Patrick Swayze Christmas,” the immortal tune from the “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I know I’ve written of my love for this tune many times, I can not express how happy it makes me, with lines like, “I heard that Santa has been stealing from the till/I think that right-jolly old elf better make out his will.”

Finally, A Colbert Christmas, which debuted la few years ago, was truly amazing. But it ended with a song that I found genuinely moving and beautiful, a duet with Elvis Costello called “There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In.”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
A Colbert Christmas: Colbert/Costello Duet
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