In response to In Defense of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’
I grew up listening to Christmas music on 97.1 WASH-FM. Even as a kid, I was always amused by the saccharine musings of that insufferable nighttime radio host, Delilah. While I can’t recall specific verbiage off the top of my head, it was always something uniquely tacky like, “I hope you’re cozied up by some roasting chestnuts on this cold winter’s night” or, when someone would call into the station, “What song can I play that makes you think of that special someone?” It was such commentary that often made the station, self-proclaimed “Washington’s home for the holidays,” assume the charisma of a cloying relative at a dreaded Christmas reunion rather than the proverbial image of Christmas at home.
Needless to say, WASH-FM loves its tacky Christmas anthems. While the station dutifully plays the obligatory Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby, it can’t help but spin an overwhelming amount of its own favorites into the mix — Mariah Carey, Band Aid, Madonna, and worst of all, Wham!. Wham!’s synthy Christmas classic “Last Christmas” is so ’80s that it makes even me, someone born in the late ’90s, feel like I am being force-fed a Trapper Keeper. I actually don’t mind the ’80s throwback sound; by and large, I enjoy ’80’s music. But as noted by Jack Butler and Mark Krikorian, George Michael (who was part of the Band Aid “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” crew) seems to have a unique talent for ruining Christmas music, and “Last Christmas” is the worst of all.
Something about the premise of the song is incredibly frustrating to me, and to be honest, strikes me as utter nonsense. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart / But the very next day, you gave it away. . . .” Okay, I understand the heart-giving metaphor, but how on earth do you give someone’s heart away? And on the next day, no less? I can’t imagine that working romantically — “sorry, I’m not interested, but do you mind if I forward this love to someone else who I forgot to get a gift for?” But for the next year, George Michael’s approach is resolvedly different. “This year, to save [him] from tears, [he’s going to] give it to someone special (special). . . .” Well, was the girl he wrote an entire song for not special? Is that the big difference in approach? I guess he must have thought to himself, “Aha! I’ve got the solution. In order to not have my beating heart re-gifted on December 26 this year, I know what I’ll do — I’ll give it to someone special!” Okay George, glad you figured that one out.
To add insult to injury, the song has been covered hundreds of times, and almost exclusively by the most unbearable modern singers. Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Ashley Tisdale, The Glee Cast, and, Lord have mercy, Carly Rae Jepson. If you see my car veering off the road into a ditch this Christmas season, you’ll know that I’ve finally had it — I tuned in to 97.1 hoping for Chuck Berry’s “Run, Run Rudolph” and was met by the looping synth of “Last Christmas.”
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