I'll Stay 'Til After Christmas: A Christmas Album to Benefit Amnesty International
As far as I’ve ever been able to determine, there are two sides of every holiday, binaries inhabited by people who either rejoice in merriment and love, and the rest of us who find holidays—particularly the wintry, mostly-religious ones—vomit inducing, an excuse to sit alone somewhere and cry. If only I were exaggerating.
I loathe obnoxiously happy holiday tunes for many reasons, and because my birthday is December 24th (the day known to some as Christmas Eve), I get to listen to them straight through my own Jesus-shared time of year. I walk into a department store, and there’s Mariah Carey on the loud speakers, her sexualized Santa-love shared with every hearing person in the Misses section. Don’t you think this should make me even more depressed and aggressive?
The only holiday songs I like are sixty years old, in a language other than my own (because then I can’t understand them!), or that slightly terrible but addictive “Christmas Wrapping” track from the Waitresses. American grocery stores, purveyors of lonely-people music as much as fattening food, seem to take great pleasure in pumping out this song all December (and sometimes starting as early as October), reminding their usual single woman target audience that maybe this year, they’ll meet some cute guy in the aisles. Consumerism for the win! Get shopping, ladies!
I need holiday songs that confirm how miserable I am, how lost I feel in this blissfully happy world of yuletide wonder. I’m another year older and constantly exposed to the new “Joy To The World” remix from the new age, synth-loving clusterfuck that is Mannheim Steamroller. This year, courtesy of my partner’s Scandinavian family, I have five-hour dinners to look forward to, followed by dancing and singing around a candle-lit tree. Lethargy mixed with unpronounceable chaos will no doubt ensue, assuming the evergreen doesn’t go up in flames. Where the hell are my headphones?
I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas is the angry person’s redemption. You no longer have to retreat to your Elliot Smith; there is no longer a need to front. “Look, I brought some Christmas music too!” Everyone will be so proud, and you will have the last hostile laugh. Man of Arms says it best on “It’s Christmas Time and Every Thing’s Wrong”; he’s actually deconstructing poverty, war, and religious iconography. Certainly, if you’re going to go pissed and angry about the holidays, go big. So while this track clocks in at 1:35, it might very well be my favorite. On “My White Elephant,” which I’ll pretend is a nod to terrible gifts, duo Arthur and Yu explain, “I didn’t know how I feel.” Numbness as holiday survival is alive and well.
The Turk Dietrich “Blue Christmas” cover is so distorted that you can hardly recognize the original, which perhaps to speaks to our collective inability to admit how gloomy all of this false happiness makes us. No Kids ask how they can “face another winter in a summer town,” and it makes me want to kiss them under some wilting mistletoe. Tracks by Au Revoir Simone, Le Loup, and Sally Shapiro are decidedly more upbeat than the rest, but retain an appropriately somber quality. This sad bastard take on Christmas is finally as angsty as I am.
And who doesn’t love giving money away in lieu of gifts? What if you could do both? All album proceeds go to Amnesty International, and since this is a digital-only release, there is less clutter under the tree and in your everyday life. See? Happy endings to sad stories. Merry freaking Christmas.