Twin Cities musicians on Christmas music at its best and worst

Categories: Holiday

Photo by Erik Hess
Taylor Nelson and Alaine Dickman of Wiping Out Thousands

CP: Any big Holiday plans this year?

Taylor Nelson: Well, we're trying. We both have family in two different states. Plus, we work in retail.

CP: So you guys have to be well sick of this Christmas music stuff by now.

We work at the Apple store, so luckily it's a mix right now. But the mall that the store's in is pretty awful about it. 

CP: It doesn't sound like you guys hate it as much as one would maybe expect then.

TN: We kind of sat and ended up talking about Christmas music in general, and we came to the consensus that almost everything that came after the Rat Pack Christmas music has been pretty bad.

CP: What would be some examples of the good for you guys?

Alaine Dickman: I really like Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Not even a guilty pleasure, really. It's just a great song. And any of the jazz with Ella or the Rat Pack. I've always listened to them growing up with my parents, so that's a little bit special.

TN: I found out that Vince Guaraldi, the guy who did the music for the Charlie Brown Christmas, had a jazz trio. And if you go to Pandora and put in the Vince Guaraldi Trio, that would be a good idea of what I appreciate. And I think if places like malls or stores played just instrumental Christmas jazz, that would be fine.

I think people would be more friendly. If pop singers just didn't touch Christmas, the world would be okay.

CP: Are there any Christmas songs you guys particularly hate?

TN: "Hey Santa" by the Wilson Sisters from Wilson Phillips. That song is horrible. The video's really bad. And it plays in the mall. 

And the lyrics are just terrible. Usually Christmas music rhymes, but all of the sudden they'll stop rhyming.

CP: I feel like five percent of Christmas music that you hear are original songs. So at this point, pretty much every angle has been tackled. Do you guys think we'll ever see a vanguard for the Holidays?

TN: Well, I remember when Trans-Siberian Orchestra got really popular. That was probably the last time anybody went, "Whoa." But they were the only ones who could do it, because otherwise it was just a ripoff of them. And that's funny, because everybody's ripping off everybody for Christmas music. So it would be cool, but I don't think it will ever happen. Christmas music is about stores selling stuff and mainstream artists recycling garbage. 

I saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra in seventh grade, and it's still probably one of the best show's I've ever seen. I was in the center eighth row, and there were flames behind them that were hot. Like hot on my face. I don't know how they could deal with that on stage.
TN: Well, they're metal guys.

CP: Because Christmas music has gone in pretty much every direction, has there ever been a moment where you guys were inspired by something you heard in December?

You know, it's kind of funny. You mentioned earlier that there'd be sounds and instruments you only hear this time of the year. And I actually think why I like someone like Vince Guaraldi so much is because it is only piano, bass and drums. And just from those three instruments you can feel that it's the holidays. That's what intrigues me is that it can convey the same message that Mariah Carey is trying to carry in her crazy alternate universe. 

CP: So if Wiping Out Thousands had to make a Christmas song, what would it be like? 

TN: Well there's an emphasis on "had to," because it would have to be forced. We'd have to drop the normal instrumentation we do and make it more stripped down. I'd feel weird doing a Christmas song with what we do. We'd probably actually just cover "Hey Santa" by the Wilson Sisters.

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