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Christmas Carol Rant

I’ve actually ranted this rant a number of times. Most recently I went off on this stuff Christmas Eve, then said to my nieces they didn’t need to read my next blog post; they’d just heard it. The next day one niece asked if I had indeed blogged about it. I had not. So here it is.

I love Christmas music. I think it is one of the best things about the best time of year. I love Christmas music so much, sometimes it makes me cry. That said, I really REALLY HATE what some singers do to Christmas songs.

I like peppy, happy Christmas songs. I can be-bop to Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” all day long. I don’t like ballads in the best of times. And what I really can’t stand is a drawn out, slowed down ballad that you have no idea when it is ever going to end.

Singers, like all of us, can be self indulgent. Sometimes they indulge themselves with long, drawn out notes in ballady, emotional songs (my computer is telling be ballady is not a word, but I think it is descriptive). Sometimes they sing as if they are being paid by the hour, adding syllables where none existed or making the syllables that are there last way beyond their natural life.

I studied music in high school. I know that the different shaped notes mean you hold them for specific lengths of time: this note lasts a quarter beat, that note lasts two beats. How long a beat is may vary, but within those confines we have a specific rhythm which the songwriter intended. This is comforting to me. It means that a song, however many verses it may have, will eventually end. There is one — only one that I know of — symbol which placed over a note means you can hold it a little longer. This symbol usually is placed on one only one note in a song, often the last note. Many singers behave as if this symbol is over every damn note in the song.

I hate it! You never know when the song is going to end — you never even know when you are going to get to the next line! I listen to the song saying, “Get on with it! Go to the next note already!” I imagine there are songwriters turning over in their graves, or at least cringing as they cash their royalty checks.

This happens in music all the time, but I tend to notice it most often at Christmas. I believe it springs from a number of factors: I listen to music more at Christmas, and many Christmas songs tend to lend themselves to this sort of emotional self-indulgence. Christmas is an emotional time (hence my crying over Christmas songs).

One may ask, why am I being such a Scrooge or Grinch about this (choose your favorite fictional reference)? This person would say to me, “Let the singers sing how they want to sing! Some of us like to hear it that way!” Oh well, to each his own as the old lady said when she kissed the cow. If you like that sort of thing, listen away. You have plenty of opportunity. For myself, I will make some more mix tapes of my favorite peppy, happy tunes and dance and sing the rest of this Christmas time away. Happy days, all!

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