To a certain generation, nothing says Christmas quite like the airing of old-school TV specials. When you’re a kid, they herald the arrival of the season. Each weird cartoon (and they are all pretty bizarro) is another step closer to the big day. For adults, they remind us of that excitement as we gain a new appreciation for the quality (usually), subtle humor, and often top-shelf music featured in these shows. Here are five of the best original songs.
5. “Marley And Marley,” A Muppet Christmas Carol
Casting Statler and Waldorf as the Marley Brothers in The Muppets’ version of A Christmas Carol was a stroke of genius. This song is great, darkly comic, with the two deceased misers still struggling with their glee at having been such bastards in life. I also appreciate that Michael Cane, as Scrooge, sticks to Dickens’ original dialogue.
4. Soundtrack, A Charlie Brown Christmas
The classic Christmas special’s soundtrack, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, has a life of its own as the unmistakable sound of the holiday. It would be impossible to pick the best of the songs, but I find that “Christmastime Is Here” perfectly captures the mess of dreamy happiness, innocence, nostalgia, and even melancholy of Christmas.
3. “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” How The Grinch Stole Christmas
The lyrics to this song are a barrage of classic one-liner insults: “Your soul is an appalling dump-heap, overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled-up in tangled-up knots!” Wow. Merry Christmas, kids!
Perhaps the only hard rock song to ever appear in a Christmas special (prove me wrong), “Riverbottom Nightmare Band” is the autobiographical anthem of The Nightmare, a glam-metal act so nasty that the grass does not grow on the places where they stop and stand. The most unrepentantly evil of all Muppets (and this, mind you, includes Uncle Deadly, the Phantom of the Muppet Theater), “The Nightmare” is beyond redemption. As they sing: “We don’t wish to learn, but we hate what we don’t understand.” How can one argue in the face of such perverse obstinance? It’s simply unreasonable. And yet, they’re so good that even the staid judges of the Waterville Talent Contest have no choice but to award them first place. “And when we are done with our song, who will get the biggest hand? Riverbottom Nightmare Band!”
1. “Heat Miser Song,” The Year Without A Santa Claus
Heat Miser’s song handily triumphs over all others, including his brother’s musically near-identical “Snow Miser Song,” for its swinging groove (it’s slower than the “Snow Miser Song”), hammy delivery, and pure comedic value. The contradiction inherent in the Heat Miser’s general insecurity ups the enjoyment factor, as well. He’s got a persecution complex. “He’s too much. (Thank you).”