Tomorrow is Christmas, and I want to take a chance to wish you a happy day regardless of your cultural affiliations. One might assume that due to my curmudgeonly, irreligious, Grinch-like personality that I would despise the many carols and jingles that spout from every speaker during the season, but one would be dead wrong.
I fucking love Christmas music.
I’m a sucker for catchy, upbeat sing-alongs and slow syrupy ballads. I can listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” or Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” all year long. Methinks that people who gripe about this genre around the holidays doth protest too much. There is a reason why every musician worth their salt has a Christmas album — everyone likes the music.
But because I’m humming the tune doesn’t mean I’m blind to the creepiness in the lyrics. Most of the songs in the holiday canon are relatively benign, but a few of them read as though written by a sexual predator.
No song better represents this nauseating quality than “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It’s the soundtrack to a holiday date rape. In this duet, the female vocalist attempts to leave the home of the male singer and is repeatedly prevented. Ostensibly, the man wants to shield her from the winter weather but the not-so-subtle subtext is that he wants to get laid. The woman asks at one point, “Say, what’s in this drink?” In response, he offers the observation, “no cabs to be had out there.” She persists in her desire to leave, listing her relations who will be concerned by her absence. To this the man spews a very telling, “What’s the use in hurting my pride?” The insinuation is that women are teases who need to be trapped, drugged, and pressured into the sex that they want but won’t ask for. It’s made all the more horrifying by its pleasant musical accompaniment and the fact that you’ve probably sung it with your mom.
Another song that sends uneasy shivers down my spine is “Santa Baby.”Although attributed to Eartha Kitt, I am convinced its author is a vile pedophile. The sexualized baby-talk in which the lyrics are usually sung makes my skin crawl. That alone is enough for me to condemn this excruciatingly disturbing song, but its implications are worse. Insisting that she’s “really been a very good girl,” the singer rattles off a list of progressively more expensive gift requests. The listener gets the impression that “Santa” is some wealthy male benefactor and that this man will get something in return for his generosity. The airy, sensual tone of the singer suggests that her reciprocation will be carnal in nature. The exchange of sex for possessions may be an age-old tradition, though I don’t see why it should be celebrated at Christmas. The child-like manner the crooner generally assumes gives this song an even darker implication. You may contend that I am the sick one who is drawing strange assumptions from an innocent song. Well, dear reader, if you think that repeated appeals to “hurry down my chimney” aren’t sexual, you’re probably the kind of person who gives unsolicited thigh massages.
There are other examples of questionable themes in holiday music. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (adultery, exploiting the naiveté of children), “Silent Night” (don’t tell me to be quiet in my own house!) are a few instances. But I think I’ve made my point. Christmas carols are supposed to be fun for the whole family to enjoy. They should be easy karaoke selections, uplifting, and have a few shakes of the jingle bells for good measure.
So, let’s retire the sexy Christmas songs. I don’t want anyone trying to make me horny on a day I spend with my family. A holiday jingle with a sexual vibe will automatically feel like an uncle giving me a back rub. Chilling. And not because “it’s cold outside.”