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Probably one of the worst things about working in retail is having to listen to repetitive music over the loudspeaker 100% of the time you are at work. Admittedly this year the situation is better as they started the music a week later and for the first 10 days or so it was mixed with other (not necessarily fantastic) music, but the Friday before Thanksgiving the holiday music took over and has dominated the store ever since. So, since its the busiest time of the year and we have mountains of work piling up on us, what does my pricing team do but compile a list of the 10 Best and 10 Worst songs they're playing this year in JCPenneyWorld.

10. The Magic of the Night - Enya Amarantine Special Christmas Edition

"Can an angel lose their way,
Who of us on earth can say?
Someone's dreaming,
Angels singing.
Everything is right.
It's the magic of the night!"

This ethereal piece is typical of Enya, with utterly descriptive simple verse, dense choral harmonies and a calm and relaxing aura powered by synthesized cellos and basses, along with harpsichord.

9. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Thurl Ravenscroft How the Grinch Stole Christmas

"You're a monster, Mr. Grinch
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
you have garlic in your soul."

Even though we are all overly familiar with this song, its a nice diversion from the other tripe that plays overhead, especially since you can picture the cartoon in your head while its playing.

8. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Elvis version

"Rockin Around the Christmas Tree
Its a happy holiday"

Although I wasn't able to find a recording of this song online, it is Elvis singing this song, or someone doing a really good job of impersonating him. I enjoy it a lot more sung by him than Brenda Hanson (the original)

7. Carol of the Bells - Trans Siberian Orchestra A Christmas Experience

If you're not already familiar with the intricate and modern adaptations of traditional Christmas music that comes out of this musical group you really should check them out. This version uses electric guitars for the familiar melody line and packs in enormous energy to explode into wild piano and full synthesized orchestra, then pulls it back to remind us of the delicate nature of the theme before ramping it up again to close with a finish worthy of a Blue Man Group concert.

6. Christmas Day - Dido Platinum Christmas

"Your eyes are green
Like summer grass
Your lips are red
like a fresh-cut rose
Your hair is soft
like an Irish stream
And your voice is filled with sweet beauty
And the last words I heard him say were
I shall return for you my love on Christmas Day"

A deliciously simple treatment of a traditional folk melody where Dido lets her gentle vocals shine through the tender but bittersweet Christmas story lodged in the lyrics.

5. Little Drummer Boy - Josh Groban Noel

"I play my drum for Him
So to honor Him."

In the middle of a lot of blah and boring traditional adaptations of familiar songs, this one actually made me stop working as I listened to try to figure out who was singing. It didn't take long considering that Groban does have a distinct voice I've heard on the Troy soundtrack :P many a time. I love the orchestra and incidentally African backbeat during the soft moments and something about the descending diminished chords under "he smiled at me" caught my ear. It takes spot #5 because I actually hate the movie and generally hate this song in all other forms.

4. For Unto Us a Child Is Born - George Freidrich Handel The Messiah

"For unto us a child is born
for unto us a son is given."

This was always my favorite part of the Messiah and if you get a chance to participate in a sing along Messiah this is really the most fun piece to sing (at least in my opinion). Plus, in the midst of mostly pop music (The Kwanzaa Song? Really?) hearing anything classical is practically miraculous.

3. White Christmas - Bing Crosby White Christmas

"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know."

The title song from my favorite Christmas movie, its as nostalgic as Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" but more upbeat. For me it evokes warm winter nights with popcorn in front of the t.v. at Grandma's house.

2. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

"O Come O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
who mourns in lonely exile here
until the son of God appears."

Although this only plays in instrumental version in the store, its a traditional and important Lutheran hymn. My church would sing once verse for the first candle on the Advent wreath, the first two for the 2nd candle, and so on. For some reason this song really brings the meaning of Advent and the birth of Christ (still important to me after its all said and done) forward to the center of the music. Its a song of hope and desire, of the meaning Christ had for the Israelites and for all mankind.

1. Somewhere In My Memory - John Williams Home Alone Soundtrack

"Somewhere in my memory
lies the joy of our Christmas...
all about music
all about magic
all about family"

Its John Williams. What can I say, the man does good work. For some reason we never seem to get tired of listening to this piece, perhaps because in the world of Christmas music its common enough to be recognized but not something you hear every singer from here to yon attempting.

I'm not going to provide links to these because I don't want to spread the pain. I'm sure google can oblige if you really want to hear them.

10. Walking in a Winter Wonderland - multiple versions
- Multiple versions in which the PC words "we frolic and play the Canadian way" appear. Really? I'm surprised Canadians aren't up in arms about stereotypes. Sometimes just let sleeping lyrics lie.

9. The Pretty Little Dolly - Mona Abboud
- My mom hates this song too. The real killing point is when she sings about putting a plastic bag around the dolly's head. She turns purple and dies. If you don't know this song: its not a joke. Well I'm not joking about what the lyrics are anyway.

8. Santa Baby - multiple versions
- Andrea hates this song and I'm not a particular fan of it. I mean, how much rampant consumerism do you have to be witness to in retail? And there's at least 3 different versions of this song that play in the store (about 1 every hour). Its almost subliminal...

7. This Christmas - All 4 One version
- Hey, let's be hip! Let's argue about whether peace on earth or a new watch is a better present wish. We'll do a little riffing on all the other Christmas songs too, to showcase our fantastic vocal ranges. Except you sound like Keenan Wayans, Bart Simpson, Justin Timberlake and Chris Rock. And not in a good way. If sounding like any of that can be considered good.

6. Blue Blue Christmas - unknown

Although I know a large chunk of the lyrics, nothing on google is returning the actual song. Perhaps its so bad it doesn't want to own up to its creator. Anyway, its a country song (strike one) that rips off the more famous Blue Christmas' idea of being away from home (strike two) but does so with some of the most depressing lyrics I've ever heard for a "christmas" song. The economy is already a drag on people's spirits. Why do we have to play depressing music in the store too? A sample:

"Its gonna be a blue, blue Christmas
Its a hard, hard time, I know
I said I'd be home for Christmas but
there's always one more stage and one more show
Its gonna be a blue blue Christmas
and all I want for Christmas is to just come home
*makes a phone call*
the reason you're not home
is that you just walked out the door
and I won't want for Christmas anymore"

5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Remixed
We heard this one today. While the song itself is fine (its a 1940s Big Band era as a base) the song has been remixed over a deep bass voice that is constantly chanting "The Fat Man's Comin'
The Fat Man's Comin..." Eerie and annoying all in one.

4. Christmas Is My Favorite Holiday - unknown

The producers of this song need to be shot. Especially during the THIRD key change when the singer holds a discordant note for far too long. Again. The music and lyrics are upbeat but the singer is not very good and the production value pretty poor. Again, it would not reveal itself to me on the intarwebs.

3. When Wishes Come True - Eve Selis

Its supposed to be touching and heartfelt. But the songs lyrics are practically bipolar, starting out as a melancholy ballad to lost childhood, then praising secular Christmas, only to be abutted by sacred Christmas. Basically, I think the words are stupid.

"Then she asked me “Do you believe
In magic and presents and snowmen that sing?”
Of course I do, God sent you to me
The greatest gift I ever received" (<-- what does this have to do with the question?)

2. There's No Where It Isn't Christmas - unknown

"There's No Where It Isn't Christmas
Its One Day We All Share
There's No Where It Isn't Christmas
Let the Music Fill the Air"

I hate to break it to you anonymous country twanger but there are a lot of places it isn't Christmas and repeating the sentiment ad nauseum during your 11 minute carol-a-long isn't going to change that fact.

1. Rockin' Rudy - unknown

You know, its really hard to find some of these songs. They're so bad apparently no one wanted to post the lyrics or link the artist anywhere. That's alright because then you might have to listen to this piece of garbage. Its sung by someone that reminds me of Ben Folds (he was a talented piano player - not singer)+ Brian Setzer. Done with generic 50s rock backing (but its not a 50s song). Perfectly bland for all the hipsters out there. I'm guessing 90s. Or someone's recorded karaoke.

"I'm rockin' Rudy
And you know me
By this big red nose of mine...
Rock rock rock it, Rockin' Rudy
Rock rock rockin', Rockin' Rudy
This big red nose of mine has been my claim to faaaaaaaaaaaaaaame"

He describes how he had no friends and even Santa ignored him until the fog came up. He speaks of soul crushing isolation without the merest hint he's doing any more than reading off a piece of cardboard while stretching his meager vocal range to frantically keep up with the tramping foot cymbal and uninspired backing guitar. Basically I go hide in the stock room, where the speakers are mercifully muffled by all the merchandise, until this song is over.

Bah Humbug.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-12-12 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When I worked at Sears, they played a lot of these, but that was it. Seriously, they looped the same 20 songs, the same versions, in the same order, over and over. It was like they had one Christmas mix cd, and that's what we got for two months. I would go crazy. The only other option was the pure instrumental version, and that had "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" on it. No joke.

Maybe the only good thing about Target?

Date: 2008-12-12 04:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We don't do music! Our store is silent. Yay for Silence. But I do love Christmas music... so it's always on in my car. lol

Also: Thank you for the Dido song. I love her. I hadn't heard this.


Date: 2008-12-12 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*sniff* Well then it made me cry. But I still love it. *sniff*

Re: Dido

Date: 2008-12-12 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah its a sad song but I can't get enough of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-12-12 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ugh I feel for you. I hate even "good" xmas music, and the "bad" makes me want to drive stakes through my ears. I do NOT miss retail. Though, now that I'm a college graduate, who knows- I may end up back in retail with this miserable market.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-12-16 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i hate, hate, hate!!!! "Santa Baby"


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