December Derangement Part 2: Round 1 of Holly Jolly Showdowns

PREAMBLE/DISCLAIMER/PRE-NOTE/WHATEVER YOU WANNA CALL IT: This is something I started working on last December with a blog I was writing for before Stitched Up. It was never completed because of stuff that went down with the site. It doesn’t exist anymore, but hey, that’s besides the point. The first 3 parts of this series will be a republication of the posts I wrote last year, with some revisions made. You’ll know where any major changes are (like any changes of decisions) when you see italicized text like this. After part 3, everything is brand spankin’ new. So, enjoy!

In part 1, the stage was set for the tournament. You haven’t missed much if you didn’t see it, just me dashing on the Carpenters (seriously, stop creeping me out guys).

So here we are: round 1. The juices are flowing and I’m amped. The thing that makes this tournament exciting for me personally is that I’m not even fully sure what my favorite Christmas song is. There’s too many good ones to name (he says as he picked out 68 of them) so only time will tell. Bracket don’t lie, Rasheed Wallace style.

So let’s get right into it! We’ll start with the Tree Region.

PLAY-IN: #16 White Christmas-The Drifters vs #17 Don’t Shoot Me Santa-The Killers

This version of “White Christmas” is the kind you hear in…Every. Single. Christmas. Movie. Ever. Home Alone is my favorite example of its use. It’s a good song, but it simply can’t hold a candle to the confusing—but equally as funny and entertaining—Killers tune. The Killers advance, because, y’know, Stitched Up.

#1 Fairytale of New York-The Pogues vs #17 Don’t Shoot Me Santa

If you’ve ever heard “Fairytale of New York,” you know why so many media outlets praise it. Places such as VH1 have called it the greatest Christmas song for three straight years at one point, and it was very recently voted as America’s favorite Christmas song. It’s certainly not the most popular song, especially with people my age, but it’s a classic. Sorry, Andersen, but The Killers’ ride ends fairly quickly. Guess they were swallowed by…….the rising tide…….. Fairytale advances.

#8 Merry Christmas Baby-Bruce Springsteen vs #9 Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)-U2

Two rock legends going at it. “Baby Please Come Home” showcases Bono’s tremendous and powerful voice (but not his self promotion) and is a solid tune, but Bruce’s enthusiasm in a live performance is just too much. Giving this one to The Boss.

Obligatory YEAH YEAH YEAHHHHHH videos.

#5 Do They Know It’s Christmas?-Band Aid (Original) vs #12 Little Drummer Boy-Sting

So there’s a newer Band Aid Christmas song that came out last year for Ebola awareness, but the 1984 original is one that everyone knows and can appreciate. Sting’s a great singer, and he does a good job with “Little Drummer Boy,” but c’mon, it’s Band Aid! George Michael! Bono! Phil Collins! David Bowie! AND STING! Random thought: who would he root for in this one? Doesn’t matter, because I’m going with Band Aid.

#4 Run Rudolph Run-Chuck Berry vs #13 Year Without A Santa Claus Theme-Shirley Booth

Now I’m a huge fan of the TV special, but the “Year Without A Santa Claus” song is a tune that just suffices. Nothing like a big Yuletide jam from a legend like Chuck Berry. Rudolph runs to the next round.

#6 Jingle Bell Rock-Bobby Helms vs #11 Sarajevo-Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Same deal. TSO is actually very good, and Sarajevo is an epic ballad. But again, “Jingle Bell Rock” is a classic song for a reason. Bobby Helms rocks on.

#3 Snoopy’s Christmas-The Royal Guardsmen vs #14 One Foot in Front of the Other-Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn

I went back and forth on this one, and it surprised me. At first, I immediately went with “Snoopy’s Christmas,” but then I remembered how excited when I hear “One Foot” in Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town. This one could’ve gone either way, but I’m feeling a big time upset here. Kris Kringle and the Winter Warlock give us our first bracket buster.

#7 Mele Kalikimaka vs #10 Sleigh Ride-Leroy Anderson

7-10 matchups are always annoying. This proved it. Both are quality songs, but they’re completely different. You’ve got Bing Crosby singing about a Hawaiian Christmas Day and an instrumental that doesn’t even mention the word “Christmas” in its lyrics when sung. It’s a tough one, but Anderson’s composition is one that always bring good vibes. I’m riding the sleigh on this one (puns on puns on puns).

#2 Christmas Time Is Here-Vince Guaraldi vs #15 Happy Holidays-Andy Williams

One of a few nods to the late Vince Guaraldi and his music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; I’m sure you’ll see my appreciation for Charlie Brown throughout. Williams’ tune is nice because it’s crafty, but not enough to knock off the #2 seed. Guaraldi starts off 1/1 in the first round.

To the Milk and Cookies Region, one that could very well hold the winner.

PLAY-IN: #16 Frosty the Snowman Theme-Jimmy Durante vs #17 Last Christmas-Taylor Swift

Thought about giving it to vintage TSwift for a fat minute, but then I thought about new TSwift. It made me too upset. Plus, she kiiiinda sounds out of tune in her recording of “Last Christmas.” The OG 16 seed moves on.

#1 Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town-Bruce Springsteen vs #16 Frosty the Snowman Theme-Jimmy Durante

Please. Bruce and The E Street Band roll with ease.

#8 Wizards in Winer-Trans-Siberian Orchestra vs #9 You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch- Thurl Ravenscroft

Again, TSO is a very talented band, and this song is pretty cool, but Ravenscroft’s “Grinch” always puts me in a good mood during the holidays. Plus, if you can find a better chirp than calling someone a “three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce,” then I’ll show you a physical three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce. The Grinch wins the consistently tough 8-9 matchup here.

#5 Step Into Christmas-Elton John vs #12 12 Pains of Christmas-Bob Rivers

The 12 Pains of Christmas is fuckin’ FUNNY, man. Every single time. It’s not as musically complex, obviously, but I will never not laugh at the dad trying to put up the lights. Sir Elton’s song is great, but the laughs get me here. Beware the 5-12! When you deal with the pains, you get results.

#4 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer-Burl Ives vs #13 Little St. Nick-The Beach Boys

Burl Ives is another guy who has more than one horse in this race, and “Rudolph” is a song everyone grew up with, no matter your age. Everyone can identify with it, specifically his version. I like “Little St. Nick,” but it’s honestly never been even close to my favorite. I’ll stick with “Good Vibrations” when it comes to The Beach Boys. Rudolph guides Santa past the boys from California.

#6 Feliz Navidad-Jose Feliciano vs #11 Dominic the Donkey-Lou Monte

A battle of international Christmas spirit, each with its big fanboys. There are some people I know who FREAK OUT when “Dominic” comes on. “Feliz Navidad” is, uh, a little repetitive, and I feel as if its overplayed. Not a good mix. I’m also not terrific at Spanish, so I consider this a lil’ bit of vengeance. Monte pulls off the slight upset.

#3 Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town-Frank Sinatra vs #14 Someday At Christmas-Stevie Wonder (Replacing Band Aid from 2014)

Stevie’s song for peace is a heartwarmer, but it’s just not as iconic as Sinatra’s effort. Two great tunes, but Frank survives. Another win for “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

#7 Christmas All Over Again-Tom Petty vs #10 Heat Miser/Snow Miser-George S. Irving and Dick Shawn

I decided to combine both of the Miser Brothers’ tunes from The Year Without A Santa Claus, since I felt like they couldn’t stand alone and they’re both structurally the same song. I prefer Heat Miser a bit more, but that’s not the issue at hand. Tom Petty and the Heartbrakers’ song is extremely underrated. It features that certain charm that only Petty can provide, and it’s a unique song that no one else has really taken it on. Tom Petty wins.

#2 All I Want For Christmas Is You-Mariah Carey vs #15 It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas-Perry Como

Como’s song is nice, but this is obvious. If you say you don’t like Mariah’s best Christmas song, you’re either an idiot or a liar, straight up. I’d consider listening to this song in July when I’m on the beach, it’s that hot. Mariah, no doubt.

We’re halfway there, so let’s move to the other side of the bracket for the Stockings Region.

PLAY-IN: #16 Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer-Elmo and Patsy vs #17 Most Wonderful Time Of The Year-Andy Williams

Andy Williams never really did it for me. Plus, Elmo and Patsy’s song sets up a nice comment I wrote last year about Nat King Cole in the very next matchup. Who’re we kidding? Whoever wins this isn’t moving any further. Elmo and Patsy advance to meet their maker.

#1 The Christmas Song-Nat King Cole vs #16 Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer-Elmo and Patsy

Grandma got run over by a reindeer? Aw, so sad. Nat King Cole will be sure to smoke four packs of unfiltered cigarettes with extra menthol and rat poison in her memory. His song is a tour de force in the Christmas music world, and it faces no challenge from Elmo and Patsy. The chestnuts will continue to roast on an open fire.

#8 12 Days of Christmas-Straight No Chaser vs #9 Here Comes Santa Claus-Elvis Presley

Some people might go with The King because, well, he’s The King, but I’m gonna go the other way on this one. Straight No Chaser’s a capella creativity is rewarding and fun with every listen. Beca and the Bellas would be so proud. Straight No Chaser carries on.

P.S. Here’s another thing: If you didn’t enjoy Pitch Perfect, then I don’t know what to tell you because it’s a solid film. I went into it not expecting much, and I was honestly surprised. If you’re a guy and won’t admit that’s it’s good, swallow your pride and come to your senses. Back to the derangement.

#5 Blue Christmas-Elvis Presley vs #12 Underneath the Tree-Kelly Clarkson

Whaddaya know, Elvis gets new life! This time, I go with him. This is his ideal Christmas song; he couldn’t perform another one better. It fits him perfectly, and he owns it. Kelly Clarkson’s fairly new song just isn’t up to par. It’s alright, but it’s a little bland and doesn’t make that big of a splash. Obligatory 40 Year Old Virgin Reference. The King moves on with his second chance.

#4 Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town-Jackson 5 vs #13 Please Come Home For Christmas-Bon Jovi

Could it be, a hat trick for “Santa Claus is Comin to Town” in the first round?! YES! The thing with Bon Jovi’s take on “Please Come Home For Christmas” is that at first glance, you might not think that it’s a song that suits them well. But when you take a listen, you realize that it’s actually a great fit. They give it their own personal spin on it. Butttttt I’ve changed my mind. MJ and his fam squad are just too much here. Close, but Jackson 5 to the round of 32.

#6 Christmas Lights-Coldplay vs #11 Christmas Night in Harlem-Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong is obviously a jazz legend, but this isn’t him at his best. It sort of leaves the listener hanging a bit, especially considering what he’s capable of. Whereas, Coldplay’s melancholy holiday song is, at least, what you would look for from one of the world’s most popular bands. In my eyes, it’s more than that. It’s a different take on Christmas, and it brings forth great results. It’s not a tambourine song, but it’s a good song. Coldplay continues to “Viva la Vida” in the tournament (Rim shot! I’m here all week folks, don’t forget to tip your waitress!) and wins.

#3 O Holy Night-Josh Groban vs #14 Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town-Gene Autry

We need to get a separate bracket going for “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” But the thing is, Autry’s version is the worst out of the four that have been mentioned. It’s very “meh,” and kind of dorky, for the lack of a better term. But Groban? Oh MAN! The Grobs could belt out a chapter from a biochemistry textbook and I would be emotionally moved. The Groban Train has left the station, baby. Groban, Groban, and more Groban.

#7 Believe-Josh Groban vs #10 Christmas Wrapping-The Waitresses

MORE GROBAN! GIVE ‘EM MORE GROBAN FITZ! Grobs’ theme from The Polar Express is a ballad that many people forget about. But when they do remember it, they recall his powers come Christmas time. “Christmas Wrapping” is a pretty nice song with great musical elements, but the lyrics and the way they’re sung don’t carry enough weight. It’s sort of like The Waitresses wanted to play “Let’s see how many words we can fit into this verse and how weakly we can sing them.” I like the song, but GROBS GON GIVE IT TO YA!

#2 Wonderful Christmastime-Paul McCartney vs #15 O Christmas TreeVince Guaraldi

Another bid for Guaraldi’s compositions from Charlie Brown. However, this nice little, jazzy number just isn’t enough to knock off a Wings-esque Sir Paul. This is where Andersen mentions that he saw Paul at Firefly. Wasn’t even the one he was the most excited for. I can’t even deny that I’m saltier than a pretzel in the Atlantic Ocean. McCartney simply has an easy matchup here (PUNS MAN!).

And finally, we have the North Pole Region.

PLAY-IN: #16 Jingle Bell Rock-Randy Travis vs #17 What Christmas Means To Me-Stevie Wonder

I love Stevie. I really do. Some of the best albums of the 70’s came from him. However, I grew up during the holidays listening to Randy Travis’ country twang during the holidays. For this round, at least, that’s enough. Randy Travis gets a ticket to the Big Dance.

#1 Happy XMas/War is Over-John Lennon vs #16 Jingle Bell Rock-Randy Travis

Randy Travis, to his credit, did a nice job with “Jingle Bell Rock.” But, come on. Child’s play.  Lennon. Too easy. Next.

#8 Holly Jolly Christmas-Burl Ives vs #9 The Season’s Upon Us-Dropkick Murphys

You literally could not hand pick two different Christmas songs. Older versus newer. A joyful song about having “a cup of cheer” and “(saying) hello to friends you know and everyone you meet,” versus complaints about your “wackjob” of a sister and how your nephew’s “a horrible wise little twit,” who once gave you “a nice gift wrapped box full of shit.” Burl Ives’ songs are great, but this is certainly not his best song from Rudolph. But “The Season’s Upon Us” is something we have never heard out of a Christmas song, and it’s brilliant. I love it so much, and it helps that they started in Quincy khed. The Season’s Upon Us stays alive.

#5 Last Christmas-Wham! vs #12 Please Come Home For Christmas-The Eagles

I’m honestly a huge George Michael fan. He’s fantastic. He has a great voice and a whole lot of jams to bump, and “Last Christmas” is certainly one of them. The Eagles, unlike Bon Jovi, don’t really provide a whole lot on their version of “Please Come Home For Christmas.” It’s a bit more mellowed out, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t really work with this song for me. I actually laughed while writing this next horrible pun: Wham! Bam! Thank you ma’am!

#4 Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree-Brenda Lee vs #13 Christmas Vacation Theme-Mavis Staples

Now let me say, Brenda Lee’s original take on a great song is great and all, but there’s something about the theme to Christmas Vacation. It gets me so excited! No matter where I am when I hear it, I feel like I’m about to start that movie, and I think that’s why I love it so much. “IT’S THAT TAHM! CHRISTMAS TAHM IS HERE!” “HIP HIP HOORAY FOR CHRISTMAS VACATION!” Such an awesome song that always puts a huge smile on my face. Another obligatory clip. Upset city for Mavis Staples.

#6 White Christmas-Bing Crosby vs #11 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus-Jackson 5

The Jackson 5 does a real nice job here, and the interactions between a young MJ and his oblivious family is always hysterical. “I did! I did! I really did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus! You gotta believe me! You just GOTTA believe me! Come on, fellas, believe me!” Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is a song that people have loved for so long. But I dunno about my 2014 decision now in 2015. I’m a sophomore—a grown ass man—now. This is the first major change in the tournament. It’s a close one, but I’m giving it to MJ.

#3 Hark, the Herald Angel Sing-Vince Guaraldi vs #14 I Wish It Was Christmas Today-Horatio Sanz

I couldn’t leave one of the best SNL holiday skits out! The little guitar, the lyrics, Jimmy Fallon playing the keyboard, Chris Kattan’s head movements, and Tracy Morgan’s little dance-ish thing always leaves me in bits. I’m going with another win for Guaraldi easily, but not without watching that skit again.

#7 The Chanukah Song-Adam Sandler vs #10 Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth-Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Gettin’ multicultural up in dis muhfucka! I do think that Bing and Bowie’s duet doesn’t get enough love, but Sandler was so clever making this song. Jewish or not, you’ve gotta love it. Sandler takes down two music powerhouses.

#2 Christmas in Hollis-Run DMC vs #15 Merry Little Christmas-Michael Bublé

Bublé has an nice voice, but this song came too late. It’s too much like its predecessors, and brings nothing new to the table. Just an average song. But “Christmas in Hollis” is the opposite! How many rap Christmas songs are there out there today, never mind how many there were when it debuted in the 90’s? And if there are some, how many do it as well as one of the best hip hop groups ever assembled? Score one for old school rap! Run DMC blows Bublé away.

So there you have it. The field is now at 32. 32 great songs, all with a shot of making it all the way. It’s a shame some had to go, but that’s how December Derangement goes. Stay tuned for part 3, where the Sweet Sixteen will be revealed.