21 Nov

Caroling 24/7

“Too many ‘Jingle Bells’ can jangle” in the Philadelphia Inquirer (November 21, 2003).

A trip to my dentist’s office usually is painful enough; but now that the holiday season – which seems to have begun shortly after midnight on Halloween – has rolled around, I dread the cleaning, chloride, and cavity-filling all the more. The smooth sounds of “easy listening” music are pumped into every sterile waiting room in the region, but now those smooth sounds have turned into a monotonous, not-so-easy-listening holiday jukebox.

Call me Scrooge or the Grinch if you like, but does Philadelphia really need two radio stations that play holiday music continuously for six weeks or so? I’ll go further: Does it need even one station?

Sometime in the last few weeks the FM radio dial was invaded by caroling singers, caroling celebrities, and more than a few caroling washed-up celebrities. Now that Sunny 104.5 and B101 are playing holiday music through December, no doctor’s office, no dentist’s chair, and certainly no department store, is safe. Wherever one goes, the holiday sounds are sure to follow.

Don’t get me wrong. I love holiday music, but like the holiday desserts whose calories will find their way into our growing bellies in another month, moderation is key. Both Sunny 104.5 and B101 stand the chance of ruining some truly great holiday songs by simply inserting them into the holiday rotation like a broken record. Bing Crosby’s recording of “White Christmas”; Nat King Cole’s of “The Christmas Song”; Gene Autry’s rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – all ruined, as Albert the Mouse says when he breaks the town clock in the holiday classic ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: “Kerpluey . . . Kerplunk.”

Granted, it is nice that David Bowie actually makes it into the easy listening format thanks to his “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” duet with Bing, but even still, two full months of this caroling? Are there really enough worthy renditions of “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Frosty (The Snowman)” to warrant constant holiday airplay for weeks at a time? Probably not, and both “Sunny” and the “Bee” must take some amount of responsibility for encouraging every fleeting pop singer, B-list actor, and former child television star to produce a holiday album.

Please, easy listening stations, stop the Leonard Nimoys and Kathy Lee Giffords of the world from exploiting our beautiful carols. Go back to your regular rotation of Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart! Doing otherwise only validates countless celebrities’ sad attempts at cashing in on the holiday scene. If 50 Cent or Eminem comes out with a holiday album this year, I’m pinning the blame on you! I can hear it already, the single about the drive-by shooting on Christmas Eve: “Jingle Bell Pop.”

Much as I can’t stand Enrique Iglesias’ sappy ballads, I’d rather listen to them as my dentist drills away a decaying tooth than hear another holiday jingle.

And, to think: December hasn’t even arrived yet!