Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Horrors: The Little Drummer Boy

Let me open the new week on Star Maker Machine with a wish and a warning. First, let me wish our readers the very best of holiday seasons, no matter what you are celebrating. As for the warning, remember that, if you mention this week that a certain holiday song is one of your least favorite, that song will follow you around for the rest of the season. This week, my fellow Star Makers and I will be taking the heat so that you don’t have to. Our posts may be examples of how we wish no one would do holiday music, but there may also be examples of how some of these songs can be redeemed. And there may be examples of times when songwriters try to counteract the corniest impulses of the season by injecting a little playful horror into their songs. I don’t know exactly what will happen either, but it’s all in the spirit of fun.

For me, this week must begin with The Little Drummer Boy. My strong feelings about this song date back to my junior year of high school. I never had a strong dislike of The Little Drummer Boy until we sang it in my high school choir. Now, you might say, sure the melody may be a bit monotonous, but it’s not that bad. If you say that, you are probably a soprano or tenor. I am a bass, and the arrangement we sang had a bass part that was just the word “prum” over and over again on the same note. Do you have any idea how challenging it is to hold a single note when you are profoundly bored? Since then, I do.

The obvious choice of a version for this post would have been Bing Crosby, with or without David Bowie. Indeed, I find the Crosby/ Bowie version to be one of the most tolerable. But I wanted a version that messes up the song a bit, my revenge perhaps. Grace Jones certainly fills the bill. Her arrangement remakes the song in glorious 80s excess. The horror here is either the arrangement or that awful outfit. As far as I can tell, this version of Drummer Boy is not available for purchase.

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