Calm, collected holiday shopper, what's on your iPod? (Part II)
The Beach Boys, "Little Saint Nick"
Advice for aspiring rock/pop idols: if you're going to do the world the disservice of flooding it with more Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/winter solstice music, at least make that Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/winter solstice music original. No-one needs to hear David Archuleta's version of "White Christmas" or the Veronicas' take on "Jingle Bell Rock" or the Beastie Boys murdering "Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah." Instead, write new, original songs about Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/winter solstice that reflects your unique perspective and compositional M.O. The Beach Boys are kinda exhibit A in this regard.
USA for Affluence, "Cash for Christmas"
An exceedingly tongue-in-cheek answer to the question(s): "Why aren't B- and C-listers doing more to respond to the heartbreaking financial hardships endured by shiftless trust-fund kids in the wake of the crash/Great Recession/fiscal shitstorm we're starting to emerge from? Where is the awareness, the love, the sympathy? Where are the toploaded all-star benefit singles? Won't somebody think of the kidults?" There's really not much to say beyond that, except that why give to the Salvation Army when there's a scruffy, stoned man-child on the upper-east side of NYC whose folks can't afford to pay for him to follow Vampire Weekend around the country on tour next year?
Mariah Carey, "Ribbon"
The sultry Mrs. Cannon didn't exactly envision a lyric like "wrapped up, packed up, ribbon with a bow on it" as a mantra for giftwrapping-department seasonal workers - the idea is more "I'm waiting for you at home in bed wearing nothing but one of those oversized bows one usually encounters in holiday Lexus commercials - but, you know, why not? Anyway, it's been more than a year since Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel dropped, and Gimme Noise still can't get sick of this song, boneheaded The-Dream ad-libs and gooey boudoir ambiance and all. It's all so ridiculous, but sexy and consoling and inviting at the same time. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll blush, you might just forget to buy Uncle Abner his 2011 Peanuts calender.
See what I had to say above in reference to the Beach Boys, but because this is Ray Charles, all is kind of forgiven. Ray Charles, people! It's high time for an iPod commercial where a hopped-up, ivory-slamming Ray Charles is trailing holiday shoppers around department stores - through aisles, up and down escalators, into elevators, in endless lines - unbeknownst to them, with a highly-mobile Baby Grand and a trio of sequin-choked back-up singers.
Julian Casablancas, "I Wish It Was Christmas Today"
Wherein Jules the Stroke has his way with the Saturday Night Live holiday classic. Not quite as inanely satisfying as the show's own renditions and various surreal YouTube tributes - and why they don't trot it out every year is beyond me - but he brings a professional, synth-pop pizazz to the song that isn't without its own special charms.