Christmas songs are one place where "new" definitely doesn't equal "good" in the minds of the masses, even in the newness-focused realm of popular music.
Personally I'm pretty attached to The Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick" and Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You," the two greatest pop-artist produced Christmas songs of all time, but I'm always on the hunt for more greats, something along the lines of The Waitress' "Christmas Wrapping." Every year a new crop comes out though Instant Classic is a rare find.
What does the last year have to offer? Here's a few picks, with video.
Song: Julian Casablancas' "I Wish It Was Christmas Today"
Basics: The Strokes singer adds a few chiming bells to these Saturday Night Live-penned lyrics, which are vaguely Christmasy.
Rating: Six out of ten bells-a-chiming.
Song: The Killers' "Happy Birthday Guadalupe."
Basics: The Las Vegas band goes South of the border on this deserty Christmas track. A Mariachi band adds a lot, though Brandon Flowers clearly oversings his part.
Rating: Five out of ten Rudolphs.
Song: Bob Dylan's "Must Be Santa."
Basics: Our freelancer Michael Lopez has already hammered Old Man Dylan for this travesty so I'll save the bandwidth. The party vibe is good, and an accordion makes anything better, but it feels a little disingenuous.
Rating: Two out of ten candy canes sharpened in to daggers.
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Song: David Archuleta's "Pat-A-Pan."
Basics: The first part of this song is not even in English, and Navidad is not in the title, so who knows what it's about. Archuleta's cherubic voice fits the genre well though.
Rating: Three out of ten "Santa Baby's."
Song: Sugarland's "Silent Night."
Basics: This song starts out as a solid, classic rendition then Sugarland has to make it something else by tossin' a little Spanish in there. WTF? They're a country act, aren't they worried about pissing off nativists by pandering to "illegal immigrants" or something? Just sing the song!
Rating: Negative eight our of ten lumps of coal.
There you have it, folks: This year's crop of Christmas songs which are, by and large, lousy and barely in English. Makes me wish Lady Gaga would followup on her "Christmas Tree" track from last year.