One of the best things about New Year is at last we have some respite from ghastly Christmas music. At least, until next October when it all starts again!
Now, I’m not religious, but neither am I a humbugging Scrooge and I can appreciate a decent carol. Straightforward songs with catchy tunes we can all join in with. Take Good King Wenceslas: it’s not exactly biblical, but it encapsulates the spirit of goodwill to all and conjures up the seasonal snowy landscape we all love. But Jingle Bells sung with grossly over-emphasised bravura by a famous opera singer backed by lushly orchestrated strings? No thanks. As for White Christmas, that’s been brutally murdered by enough has-been crooners and X-factor runners-up to set poor old Bing spinning in his grave.
And when will the people who make television adverts realise that yet another funny version of The Twelve Days is actually not funny but tedious and unoriginal? You can just imagine the mid-August brainstorming session that came up with that.
At Christmas every store in town seems to have this stuff blasting out. I don’t know how the staff stick it. Maybe it goes in one ear beneath their compulsory reindeer horn deely-boppers and out the other. Or maybe, god forbid, they actually like it. I suspect the former as one November I was performing in a show with Natural Theatre Company in a small town in Germany. In the supermarket seasonal musak was playing, but it kept skipping horribly when it came to Little Donkey, producing noises not dissimilar to severe digestive problems. Six weeks later we were back by popular demand and the flatulent donkey was still at it, with the smiling shop assistants still gloriously oblivious.
I’m not sure if this kind of music repeated ad nauseam actually boosts sales. This past Christmas I witnessed a family furiously arguing over which artificial tree they should purchase. Everyone was putting in their two pennyworth and things were getting quite nasty. Finally, the father threw his chosen tree across the store and stormed out of the shop amidst a torrent of words beginning with ‘f’, none of which were fir tree. In the background I could just catch the honeyed tones of Michael Buble warbling ‘It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas’. Indeed it was.
While doing my big Christmas shop in a well-known store one evening I had to repeatedly endure one of the worst offenders, namely a would be Whitney (or possibly the great lady herself, who was not exactly immune from unnecessary baroque embroidery of a simple tune) giving us a ridiculously attenuated and oh so deeply felt rendition of Silent Night. As my Australian friend used to say, a vibrato a dog could jump through. And just how many syllables can you get into the word night?
Silent night? If only.