Category: "Music Reviews"

That Was a Dumb Song: One of Us - March 21, 2014

Ever since I first heard it back in 1995 I hated the song One of Us as popularized by Joan Osborne. The song is by an American singer, released in America, and made the America Top 40 Billboard. Clearly this song is targeted at an American audience. Most of this critique will be based on that fact, but I’m going to go into some other ideas as well.

Before I get into things, let me say that, despite what some people may say, America is not a Christian nation. The founding fathers weren’t necessarily Christian. It is a nation of free choice when it comes to religion. Even so, there are a lot of Christians in America. Let’s break apart the song.

If God had a name, what would it be?

Well, there are a lot of answers to this question. If you subscribe to Christianity as I mentioned, it’s Jesus. If you subscribe to Islam it’s Allah. For the Hindus it’s Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti and a host of other names. So basically the singer is asking a question that’s almost impossible to answer. It’s a ridiculous question. There are so many possible names for God that the question is moot. Okay, I’m kidding a little bit here. Obviously it’s a question to provoke some thought. Which it does, and that’s fine.

And would you call it to his face, If you were faced with Him in all His glory?

Again, this one depends on what religion you subscribe to. For Christians, the answer is no. You refer to him as Lord.

What would you ask if you had just one question?

Nothing wrong with this question. It’s not really a particularly profound question, though. If we go back to the example of Christianity, God is open to many questions. You can ask them through prayer. I’m guessing that other religions also have techniques to commune with deity, and also methods to receive answers, such as meditation and scripture.

Okay, so I’ve actually just been picking at straws here. None of that really even bothers me about the song. These are perfectly fine questions to meditate on. In fact I have respect for anyone that has meditated upon such questions. The part of the song that actually bothers me is the chorus:

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?

To really explain why I dislike these lines let me explain a few things. You really can’t argue that the religion that the song is targeted at is Christianity. There are numerous references to the Pope, Saints, a term used in reference to the followers of Christ is used, and Jesus himself is mentioned. Basically there’s little room to claim that this song’s intended audience is agnostic, atheist, or some non-Christian audience. What I’m trying to get at is that as far as Christianity is concerned, God was once one of us. His name was Jesus. He lived from around 7-2 B.C.E. to 30-33 C.E., was crucified, rose the third day, then returned to his throne in heaven. So in answer to the question, What if God was one of us? Read the New Testament if you want to know what it was like for God to be one of us from the Christian perspective.

I admit that maybe the singer is merely asking from the point of view of someone who refuses to accept Christianity. But, Christianity is not even the only religion that believes that God was one of us. Hinduism claims that the Gods have manifest themselves many times as people, Krishna being one of the more prevalent incarnations. Once again, the question being asked is moot. It has many answers.

Okay. I want to admit one thing. That doesn’t even really bother me. I think it is perfectly fine to pose such questions in song. It’s really the second line that makes me hate the whole song, Just a slob like one of us? This line implies that if God was here he would be a slob. Frankly, I don’t think he would be. But even that’s not what bothers me. It’s actually that the song says a slob like one of us. This song is accusing me of being a slob, and honestly, I’m not a slob, and that’s why it’s a dumb song.

Categories: Music Reviews

The Worst Christmas Song Ever - December 8, 2010

I mentioned in my last post that I would be writing about the worst Christmas song ever. A song so annoying that makes me to lose my temper every time I hear it. Some may disagree with me that this song is bad at all. Others might agree that it is awful, but claim there are worse songs. To that, I say, Nay. The song I’m going to discuss today is the worst Christmas song to have ever existed. Period. It is probably the worst Christmas song that ever will exist. The song in question is Christmas Shoes. The most popular version being that sung by NewSong.

If you’ve heard this song, you probably recognized just how terrible it is, but maybe you didn’t realize why you hated it so much. I want to point out, line by line, exactly why this is the worst Christmas song ever. This is my opinion, of course, but honestly, I think I’m correct in my criticisms.

To fully understand the following argument you should probably listen to the song. (Although, I hate to put you through that kind of punishment.) In the case that you aren’t familiar with the song, let me go over the gist of the narrative: A kid wants to buy some shoes for his dying mother, but he doesn’t have enough money. The guy standing behind him in the line at the store, which is also the narrator/singer of the story, feels sorry for the kid and pays for the shoes. That’s it. Now, let me get into what is wrong with this song.

Let me begin by discussing the singing. It’s terrible. NewSong is a Christian band, and with that comes the the self-centered, I’m-so-great-because-I-sing-about-Jesus attitude that so many Christian bands seem to have. You know what I’m talking about, they sing in a faux-passionate falsetto that tells the listener, I’m better than you because I love Jesus. That isn’t to say I think there is something wrong with loving Jesus, I just hate it when people think they are so humble because they love Jesus, and Christian rock bands tend to sound like that. This song isn’t actually about Jesus, it’s about Christmas, but the singer still has that tone in his voice, and I hate it.

Let me move onto the lyrics. The song opens with the narrator describing himself as being in a store, waiting in line to check out. He’s standing behind a kid which he desribes with the following line: His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe. This is the first major problem with the lyrics. This line basically makes the kid seem poor. Okay, right, so a kid is waiting in line in a store, and he’s poor. No real problem there, actually. The problem is that nowhere in the rest of the song does the narrator suggest that this kid is poor. My guess is that the kid isn’t poor. He just got really dirty so he’d look poor, probably to try to get sympathy from the guy singing the song.

Let me quote the awful, terrible, suicide-thought-provoking chorus, in full:

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

This is the be-all end to making this the worst Christmas song ever. Someone I know has been quoted as responding to this song by saying, Where’s my gun? I’ll shoot that kid’s mom right now if it’ll get this guy to stop singing. I don’t have a gun, but I feel the same way.

Let me explain what is wrong with this chorus, by posing some rhetorical questions: Why in the heck is this kid waiting in line at a store instead of spending time with his dying mother? If his mom is so important to him that he wants the clerk to hurry, why is he even there? Also, and this is the stupidest part of the chorus, what does his mom need shoes for if she’s going to die anyway. It’s a waste of money, and apparently this kid is poor. Oh, and another thing. I guess this song is about Jesus after all, so it only adds to what I previously said about the singer’s tone.

This chorus makes me hope the kid’s mom does die. Maybe if she did the kid would stop being so annoying. Well, I guess he’d be more annoying because he’d go around stores crying about how his mama died. This chorus makes me hope the kid himself dies. And, you know what, I don’t feel bad for saying that because this song is fake. That’s right. It’s not a true story. It’s made up. There was no guy in a store standing behind some kid that wanted to buy some shoes for his dying mother. It isn’t real.

Let me move on to the next part of the song. The next stanza begins with He counted pennies for what seemed like years; Then the cashier said, Son, there’s not enough here. Of course the kid didn’t have enough money, he was covered in dirt, he didn’t have enough money to get a new shirt. A shirt, that the boy needed, would have been cheaper than these shoes that his mom doesn’t need. This is why I think the kid is lying. I think he made up the whole story to get some free stuff. Think about it. The kid would have seen the price tag. He would have known how much money he had, especially if these shoes were so [bleeping] important (I have to restrain myself from cussing here). Why would he even go to the checkout counter unless he expected a handout? Cheapskate. His mom probably wasn’t dying at all.

I remember one time I went to a used video game store, and I did the same thing. I had to count out my pennies, dimes, nickels, and quarters in order to buy the video game. I even said, Sir, I wanna buy this video game, for myself please. It seems really fun and I’ve got an addiction to appease. The clerk was kind of annoyed that I was paying in coins, and he didn’t even want me to include pennies in the equation, but you know what? I knew exactly how much the game would cost, and I brought enough money to pay for it. Sure, I looked desperate to be paying for the video game with coins, and I annoyed the person behind me, but at least I had enough money. I got my game, and I was happy. And you know what, I had the video game for more than one night, unlike the kid’s mom and her shoes.

I can’t help but wonder what is the matter with the kid in this song. I’ll tell you why his mom is dying, she was obviously too stupid to explain to her kid how commerce works, so I must conclude that she was too stupid to eat, and probably died of starvation. My guess is that her husband got sick of feeding her like a baby. I mean seriously, if she’d really been sick for a while, starvation fits the bill.

Let’s go to the next part of the song. The singer declares, So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out. You know what? The narrator got duped. As I said before, the kid was obviously lying. He made up the whole story. To be perfectly honest, if I was behind some kid and he was trying to buy something, I might help him out. Heck, if he was buying a video game, I’d definitely help him out, because I know it would make the kid happy. If some guy felt sorry for me and bought me a video game, it would have made my Christmas. But shoes? No, never. In fact, I wouldn’t buy shoes for some kid’s mom specifically because I hate this song so much. I might buy shoes for the kid if he needed shoes, but for some woman that’s going to be dead the next day? No. The narrator got scammed, plain and simple.

Naturally, the song ends with the singer describing how it made him realize the meaning of Christmas, I knew that God had sent that little boy; To remind me just what Christmas is all about. Death? Dying mothers? That’s what you think Christmas is all about? Let me reaffirm that the narrator is an idiot.

What’s almost as bad as the existence of the song itself, is that there is a movie based upon it. A movie was based on this song! I don’t get it. This is, by far, the worst Christmas song, and a movie was built around the narrative. It’s a Hallmark Channel movie, it would have to be, they make the worst Christmas movies ever. I’ve never seen the Christmas Shoes movie, and I don’t want to. I don’t know why anyone would want to see it. Though I admit, that the song is so bad that the movie might actually be an improvement. Or, it might just be two hours of torture. The film stars Rob Lowe.

The final thing I want to say is that I’m not alone in arguing that this is the worst Christmas song ever, and because of that there is just one thing I don’t understand. Why do radio stations play this song every hour? At least it seems like they do. No one in their right mind should like this song, and yet the radio stations keep broadcasting it. I bet, and I mean I’d really put money down, that the DJs that play this song, hate it, and they play it because they think that people like it. They think it is the type of song that people want to hear between Santa Baby and Jingle Bell Rock so that they don’t feel guilty about the commercial exploitation of the holiday season. For me, and many others, that isn’t the case. The commercial exploitation is alright in my book, but this song isn’t.

Categories: Music Reviews

My Favorite Christmas Song - December 4, 2010

About three years ago a friend of mine was discussing Christmas songs with me. He had recently read an editorial in the paper about someone’s opinion of the worst Christmas songs. My friend said the commentator had included songs such as John Lennon’s So this is Christmas and the infamous Band Aid song Do They Know It’s Christmas? (That’s the song about how there won’t be snow in Africa for Christmas, I guarantee you’ve heard it.) I told him that I kind of liked those songs, but none of them were my favorite. He asked what my favorite song was. I told him.

I’ve always liked Christmas music, and I don’t mean the classic carols, I mean everything else (though, that does include the carols when they are done right). It’s a great way to celebrate the holiday, it makes the season fun, and these songs are something you really only listen to during the season, so they never really get old.

My favorite Christmas song goes back to when I believed in Santa. You may recall from my last post that this was most of my young life, but this song goes back to when I was very young. Let me recall how I was introduced to it. I was in the mall with my mom, and she was looking around at stuff that I wasn’t really interested in. Things like ornaments and whatnot. We weren’t looking at toys, I know that, because my mom would never have bought a toy that was supposedly from Santa while I was there. Well, I was basically bored out of my mind, and then I heard it.

The tune was different from all the other songs that were playing on the intercom. It was bouncy, it was fun, and while I didn’t know much about sex appeal at the time, there was something about the female voice that started singing, that made me realize that cooties were more of a myth than Santa Claus. The first line was, and you may have guess this already, Santa Baby...

Right away, I knew this song was what Christmas was all about. Christmas was about getting stuff. That’s how I saw Christmas as a kid. This song satisfied my whole conception of Christmas. It was also a fun and sexy song. There were a lot of things mentioned in the song that I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what sable was, or Tiffany’s, and I still don’t understand how a duplex could fit in a stocking, but I knew one thing. Everything in this song was expensive, and the girl singing wanted it all, and I liked that about the girl singing. She was like me, only her toys were different.

The version of the song I heard that day was probably sung by Madonna. I don’t know for sure, but it was in the 80s, so the timing is right. And while there have been other female singers to sing this song, many of them very similar in style to Madonna, I don’t think any of them are quite as classic as the Madonna version.

I still love the song. It’s still my favorite. Though, for different reasons than when I was a kid. I like it today for three main reasons. Firstly, because I understand that the song is tongue-in-cheek. It is a criticism of the commercialism of the holiday season. The second reason I like it, is because it is such a fun song (this is one of the reasons I liked it when I was young, as well). Thirdly, and most importantly, because every time I tell someone this is my favorite song, they look at me like I’m the weirdest person they’ve ever met. Some try to tell me it’s a stupid song, others try to explain to me that this song is exactly why Christmas is so commercialized these days. I like to see their reactions. I don’t offer any excuses for why I like it. I just do, and there is no reason to defend my taste in holiday music.

That’s all I really have to say about Santa Baby, but check back later, because, soon, I will have some comments on what I consider to be the worst Christmas song of all time. A song so bad, that it has caused some people to want to commit murder. A song so bad, that some people have attempted suicide because it started playing on the radio. A song so bad that it has almost single-handedly destroyed Christmas. A song so bad that I have never met anyone that likes it, and yet, for some reason, it still gets played on the radio, year after year.

Categories: Music Reviews

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