Friday, December 13, 2013

How the Grinch Stole Christmas ... Shoes: And why it's awesome he did

Until today, I’ve managed to avoid a scourge that usually plagues the Christmas music season: “Christmas Shoes” by NewSong  (actual band name by the way, I guess GenricName was taken).
                Now look, I’m hesitant to call “Christmas Shoes” the worst Christmas/holiday song of all time. Not as long as Dan Fogelberg’s “Another Auld Lang Syne” is still out roaming free, taking lives where it pleases.
                While it isn’t definitively the worst holiday song, “Christmas Shoes” is without a shadow of a doubt the cheesiest, sappiest thing in a season chock-full of cheesy, sappy things.
                When it came on the radio this morning, I did the only thing any sane and clear-headed person could do when faced with the prospect of listening to NewSong’s “Christmas Shoes”: I considered cutting the steering wheel hard to the left and plowing straight into a concrete barrier at a reasonable rate of speed.
                Eventually I decided against it. Even more incorrect, I decided to listen to the song. Call me a masochist, but I hadn’t heard it in a year and I wanted to see if it was as much a syrupy nightmare as I remembered it.
                Oh yeah. It’s worse.
                “Christmas Shoes” is the soap opera of Christmas music.

                The song opens up with a dirty and disheveled kid who’s just a caricature from a Charles Dickens novel, wandering into a shoe store to buy some footwear for what we soon learn is his mother, who’s back at home knocking on death’s door.
                That sounds horribly depressing already, sure, but don’t worry. NewSong aren’t a bunch of monsters. The little pauper won’t be an orphan when mama meets her pal J.C., he still has a dad. Although, dad doesn’t do much in this song except periodically remind his kid that mama could literally croak at any second.    
                So this kid is waiting in line and when he finally gets to the register, what does he do? He whips his life savings and starts counting out a bunch of nickels and bottle caps to pay the clerk.
                Naturally he doesn’t have enough money to pay and what does the clerk do? This retail stiff who has probably spent 98% of the last month and a half either at work or passed out in a ditch on his way home from work? He tells the kid to f off. No money, no shoes.
                Seriously? This kid is basically standing there on Christmas Eve, wearing a tin can for a hat, one of his shoes is a plastic bag, the other one is made from a bunch of rocks he strung together and you’re going to tell him no?
                Even the most tight ass loss prevention officer in the world is going to give that kid those shoes, if for no other reason than it’d be bad for business if the kid drops dead of scarlet fever or the Black Death or leprosy before you can shoo him out of the store and hose down everything he touched with Purell.
                Since the clerk is such a nazi basterd, the guy in line behind the kid chimes and pays for the shoes, in part because he has a soul and in part because the little beggar with his endless sob story is almost certainly making him late for something.
                It’s Christmas Eve after all. If nothing else, this guy’s got a lot of feelings to kill with booze.
                The next part of the song is a swirling interlude about heaven’s love and then, just when you thought the song couldn’t get any soap opera-ier, the kid takes over singing the gut-punching chorus about his mom and how they just discovered six new kinds of cholera in her and how these shoes are the only thing that could make her smile.
                You know, it’d be enough for me if this was just an average kid, looking to pay his mom back in some small way for all the stuff she does for him during the year.  That’s sweet enough.
                “Christmas Shoes” burns too many calories trying to make me cry and all it manages to do is annoy me with its overblown assault on my heart strings.
                Turns out, and it shames me to admit I didn’t realize this, NewSong is (according to Wikipedia) “an American contemporary Christian music group.” And as we all know, from time-to-time, contemporary Christians can over do things just a little teeny tiny bit.
                It doesn’t make the song less awful, but at least now I know where the awfulness is coming from: overwrought religious types.
                If just listening to this song and fighting the urge to scream isn’t enough of a challenge for you, here’s another fun exercise: Try watching this time-period confused music video for the song. It seems to be set in modern times, but the kid looks like Tiny Tim, the mom is dressed like an Amish princess, the little-seen dad seems to be some sort of lumberjack and the narrator is wearing the latest in preppy God-fearing fashion from Abercrombie, Fitch & Saul.

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