The sounds of Christmas.
The sounds of Christmas endure the test of time, and the memory of them lingers long after the event. The sound of the kids ripping open presents at four in the morning will stay with you forever. The sound of granddad farting in his sleep during the Queen’s speech will be talked about for years. The sound of Noddy Holder belting out “IT’S CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSS!” will usher in the festive season every year.
But, there is one sound of Christmas that no-one wants to hear. Bono’s Christmas Album.
The sounds of Christmas gifts.
When Apple gifted a U2 album to the world, the world was shocked. There was uproar that anyone should try to give you something for nothing. Somewhat predictably, the overriding reaction to this free gift was one of ingratitude and cynicism. It was as if they had discovered Father Christmas in the living room, but rather than marvelling at the discovery of a chap delivering goodwill to the children of the world, they kicked him in the balls for finding a way into the house, eating the mince pie that had been left out for him, and leaving talcum powder footprints on the carpet.
And yet, at Christmas, everyone wants a piece of U2. That piece being Bono.
For more than thirty years, the sound of Bono singing ‘Tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you,’ has been as much a part of the sound of Christmas as Aled Jones and Christmas carols.
The sounds of Christmas rapping.
The song has been such a success that ten or so years ago someone came up with a plan to better it. It probably started with a record executive saying, “Hey guys, I’ve got a great idea.” Unfortunately, it continued in the form of, “Why don’t we take something great, dilute the magic, add some crap and cock it up.” And so it was that Band Aid 20 was born. Bono was still there, but basically, it lacked… everything. And to add insult to injury, the record company decided to play its joker. Someone in the studio made a suggestion.
“Hey guys, I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t we put some rap in it?”
I would like to think the suggestion was met with a stony silence and a room full of what-the-fuck expressions, but history suggests that there was much whooping and high fives all round. Despite the fact that it had no place there, it was decided to inject a dose of rap into the record. (I believe ‘rap’ is a form rhyming slang.)
And did they create a new iconic Christmas song? No, but at least Bono had another Christmas song on his CV.
The sounds of Christmas traditions.
They say if you wait long enough for a group of singers to try to recreate something great, three will come along.
Some ten years after Band Aid 20 ruined the song, a third attempt was made. But, Band Aid 30 does little more than invite the phrase ‘flogging a dead horse’. The original version captured the zeitgeist. The Band Aid 30 version was certainly full of zeit, but was entirely geist-free. (I believe zeit is a form of rhyming slang.) But now, Bono had three Christmas songs to his name.
A Christmas album.
Some artists are renown for their Christmas songs. Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby recorded hundreds of Christmas songs. You can buy Christmas albums by choirs, brass bands, and Michael Bublé. However, Bono’s Christmas repertoire is somewhat limited, and consists of multiple versions of the same song.
So, on Christmas morning, be careful if you receive a gift from Apple. It could be Bono’s new Christmas album. If it is, whatever you do, don’t click the download button.
What is the enduring sound of Christmas in your life?
While we are on the subject of Christmas traditions, here are some Christmas related posts from years past.