When it comes to Christmas music, I try to hide away when I’m not in department stores or putting up the Christmas tree. It’s not because I’m a Scrooge; I just find Christmas music a bit too sappy and most songs are naggingly catching, wringing in your head like a bad migraine.
Still I find the occasional time, like on Christmas day itself, when I get a hankering for the stuff. For me, the one song that is the epitome of bad Christmas music, that remains oddly irresistible, is McCartney’s uncharacteristically spacey “Wonderful Christmastime”. To me, this song is the Christmas equivalent to Starship’s timelessly cheesy “We Built This City”, which was even featured in the awesome new Muppets movie (as was LxL’s own Todd Reynolds).
What makes “Wonderful Christmastime” so awesomely bad you say? First of all, 1979 was a very odd time for the Beatle. Following a couple great solo records in Band On The Run and Ram in the early 1970s, Paul spent the rest of the decade wasting away in Wings, the band he formed with his wife, Linda. They say love makes you do crazy things, and I don’t consider Wings and “Wonderful Christmastime” to be any sort of exception to that rule. I would say McCartney, even if he was always the softest Beatle, was totally the friend that was a blast to be around until he started dating the ultra-controlling girlfriend. Then you watched his manlihood slowly deteriorate as he took a liking to fleece sweaters and The Notebook.
A few song/video highlights by second:
:06– One can’t help but love the dancing constellation in the sky, that looks like one of those old TV production company promos that you would see after Darkwing Duck or Bobby’s World.
:54– Sounds either like a kid playing Starfox or like a 6 year old playing around with the different sounds on the keyboard for the first time. Just pounding the keys with his fists on synthesizer mode.
1:08-1:38– Easily the best 30 second stretch. McCartney walking the keyboard in outer space, a group of druggy choir boys with a backdrop from one of those “make your own music video” studios you would find at amusement parks, stars in the sky shaped like Paul and Linda, some “da do dos”, giant UFO ornaments, and a glow-in-the-dark horse. Pure gold.
1:55– McCartney faceoff; not quite Travolta and Cage, but made all the better by how bad that pitch change is as they disappear off into the fiery ether.
2:36-2:59– People don’t have this much fun anymore in music. McCartney hopping around like an imbecile, with Linda and the other Wings flat out goofin.
3:24-3:32– Arguably the least catchy hum to ever close a song. It just comes off as awkward. As the guy that made perhaps the most timeless wordless melody with the ‘Na Na Na’s at the end of “Hey Jude”, I simply expect better from the music legend.
Sure its ridiculous. Sure you feel trapped in a spaceship in the future as imagined 30 years ago, with nothing but eggnog, peppermint, and the mannish Linda McCartney to keep you company. But sometimes it just gets under your skin and you can’t shake it. Kind of like the spirit of Christmas itself.
3.5/11 (This is a hard one to score, but I ended up going low and giving it a two-point bump for the bold amount of synthesizer)