In Defense of Christmas Music – Pt. 5

Editor’s old comedy buddy DK Hamilton has been fighting the good fight on his facebook page, defending the rare pearls hidden among the dreck that is most Christmas music, and we thought it was too good not to share.

Sure, Tupac, Ice Cube, Jay-Z and Nas put out the quintessential savage diss tracks, but I think that I’d least want Dr. Seuss to come for my throat.

Why did you have to go so hard on the Grinch, Theodor?

I mean, most diss tracks attack the subjects’ lack of skill on the mic, their relative lack of fame and fortune, and their sexual proclivities. Seuss attacks the Grinch’s very soul.

There are no fewer than three direct hits on the Grinch’s essence as a …well not human. I mean he’s a Grinch, I guess but still. (Was Seuss a Grinchist?)

But I digress.

Seuss roasted Grinch’s soul as being “full of gunk,” containing garlic, and consisting of “an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled-up knots.”

My word.

Having these lyrics delivered by the rumbling baritone voice of Thurl of House Ravenscoft is like being scolded by Darth Vader. His delivery is so relentless that the music has to lay out several times to get Seuss’ point across. Nothing stops him. The meter, the melody, even the rhyme structure are cast aside out of the way of this lyrical beat down. He rhymes “seasick crocodile” with “seasick crocodile” because he’s Dr. MF’n Seuss and he can get away with it. I mean, Seuss is not above creating a new word if no existing word serves his purpose. And if you don’t think that word will stick, ask a “nerd.”

Tyler the Creator’s cover version shouldn’t work. The creators of most recent remake of “The Grinch,” sought out a “hot” artist to update the song for the movie and it features a short rap verse and a children’s choir. Then again, judicious use of children singing can actually make a song (see “Dear God,” “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” and “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2”). And it makes the song here.

There are so many things that sets this song apart. The orchestration builds and sustains tension. Even if you’ve never seen the Grinch, the music paints a sinister picture that clearly defines the character. If the music evokes “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” that’s because Danny Elfman collaborated on this track.

The song tells a story. Not in an expositional sense, but through mood. It shows not tells. The opening verse features a reworking of Seuss’s verse with Tyler leading but backed by a children’s chorus. The children echo the lyrics but, in doing so, become Tyler’s accomplices, turning the song into a recess yard bullying. No wonder the Grinch had beef with the Whos. It’s one thing to be taken to task by a grown-ass adult but quite another to be taunted by the Mickey Mouse Club.

Tyler gives the Grinch a few bars to stand up for himself:

“All them smiles, homie
I turn to frowns. All them decorations,
I tear them down.
You can ask Max,
I don’t play around.”

The Whos, however, aren’t having it. They launch into a disgusted “Ewwww” in response that will remind you of what terrible monsters kids can be when they act with pack mentality.

Again, none of this should work. But it does. It establishes the Grinch, but then provides his motivation, and then makes you complicit in his bullying. And it does it all in less than two minutes.

Next – Why Sia made me furious on Christmas Eve.

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