Alexandra got it right — or the most important part, anyway

But I liked "The Little Drummer GIRL." I get points for that, right?

But I liked “The Little Drummer GIRL.” I get points for that, right?

I wrote about this before, didn’t I? But I can’t find it, so…

I happened to run across Alexandra Petri’s piece from two years ago, “A ranking of 100 — yes, 100 — Christmas songs,” and I nodded approvingly once again, and so I thought I’d share it. Even if it means I’m doing so, you know, once again…

The main thing is, the Christmas song she hates the worst is the same one I do: “The Little Drummer Boy.” As you may recall, I dislike it even more than I dislike Paul McCartney’s insipid, monotonous “Wonderful Christmas Time,” as I explained in my Top Five list several years ago.

One nice thing about this year is that I haven’t been to the mall even once, and I don’t think I’ve been in a single store where such drivel was being pumped at me, so that’s a point in favor of 2020. There’s that, and Joe Biden getting elected. Yay, 2020.

But the distaste lingers from previous years.

Anyway, nice job, Alexandra. Here’s her explanation of why “Drummer Boy” is the worst:

100. “Little Drummer Boy.” My hatred for this song is well-documented. I think it is because the song takes approximately 18 years to sing and does not rhyme. The concept of the song is bad. The execution of the song is bad. There is not even an actual drum in the dang song, there is just someone saying PA-RUM-PA-PUM-PUM, which, frankly, is not a good onomatopoeia and probably is an insult to those fluent in Drum. I cannot stand it. Nothing will fix it, even the application of David Bowie to it. Every year I say, “I hate this song,” and every year people say, “Have you heard David Bowie’s version?” Yes. Yes, I have. It is still an abomination.

Quite right. Although as I said the other day in my piece on the passing of John le Carré (another bad point about 2020 was losing him and a bunch of other cool people), I really like “The Little Drummer Girl,” so maybe my feminist friends will give me some points for that. Which would be a rare treat…

27 thoughts on “Alexandra got it right — or the most important part, anyway

  1. Sally Huguley

    Do you remember the Christmas episode of the West Wing when Toby arranges for a homeless Korean War vet to be buried at Arlington? The final scene is when a boys choir begins to sing The Little Drummer Boy for President Bartlett by the White House Christmas tree. In the background is a military honor guard escorting the homeless man’s casket up the hill at Arlington with Toby the only mourner. That’s why I get teary every time I hear it.

  2. Randle

    I can’t imagine taking the time to list Christmas songs I hate, but suit yourself. Here’s a version of “The Little Drummer Boy” I particularly like. I can’t post it like Bill does; you would have to click on the link, if you could stand it.

  3. Ken

    Alexandra got it wrong. And so did you. Two days before Christmas and you feel the need to post about Christmas tunes you HATE??

    You understand this is an invitation to fill the comments section with various versions of the song, right?.

    It may not be my favorite Christmas tune, but here’s one of the best renditions — simple, straightforward and old-fashioned:

    E N J O Y !!

  4. clark surratt

    From the unwashed side of the fence, I like Little Drummer Boy. It’s childish and cute. When it hit pop charts about 60 years ago, it grabbed me (the version Randle linked above). I continue to enjoy the sound and the silliness and humble little boy aspect. .
    Good King Wenscelas? I’ve heard it very few times, and might not ever again.
    To me, Christmas has too many kings and not enough kids with drums. (The song could have been Little Drummer Girl. It was written by a woman)

  5. Bryan Caskey

    Petri’s list is completely wrong in so many ways.

    Allow me to advocate for Little Drummer Boy for a moment. It’s a wonderful song about a boy who has no tangible gift to give the baby Jesus, but he has the ability to play music for him. It’s a lovely thought, that you can always give something, even if it’s just some music you make yourself. It’s like the parable of the Widow’s Mite. Bing Crosby’s original version (not with Bowie) is great. If you don’t like The Little Drummer Boy, you don’t like Christmas. Also, maybe Petri is deaf or something, but there is certainly an actual drum in the song.

    Her rankings are atrocious.

    1. Bill

      Have you heard Justin Bieber’s version? He Becomes the drummer boy/prodigal son and breathes new life into the carol..I think he’s a Christian,now…

  6. Barry

    Couldn’t disagree more. I love The Little Drummer Boy.

    Just a portion of the wonderful article by Dr. Russell Moore. Dr. Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    In Defense of “The Little Drummer Boy”

    Serious Christians are supposed to hate it because it’s just not biblically accurate. There was no drummer boy at the Bethlehem birthplace. If you’re the kind of person who responds to “We Three Kings of Orient Are” with “Actually, the Bible doesn’t say how many…and they weren’t actually kings…” then you especially are meant to despise “The Little Drummer Boy.”

    But I like it anyway. And I’m willing to admit it. I find myself especially loving the song when it reaches that high point: “I played my best for him…pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.” I love the joy in that.

    But I find that I want to kneel down and tell that little drummer boy: “You don’t really need to perform for him.” You really don’t need some token of excellence, to make you worth loving, worth being here. You’re loved and received already. You’re adopted for life.”

    I guess I resonate with that song because I’ve so often found myself doing just what he’s doing. Banging my drums the best I can, thinking that I need to be found worthy on the basis of my gifts. But who really needs a drummer in a post-natal recovery room, especially one whose best work can’t get any better than “pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.” Forget the noise, and just do what the shepherds do: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (Lk. 2:15). That’s enough.

    That baby actually sees you, already knows you, while you were yet a sinner offered himself up to die for you, to be born for you. You don’t need the drum. Put it down. Maybe I like that song because I have such trouble remembering that.

    It’s a longer article, but very good.

  7. Barry

    Our buddy Lindsey spent Christmas Day golfing with Trump

    Imagine a life so messed up that you spend Christmas Day playing golf with Donald Trump.

    1. Doug Ross

      Imagine a life so messed up that you have to turn every discussion into one about Donald Trump. You’ve wasted four years of your time on earth obsessed with someone who has little to no effect on your daily life. It’s boring and sad… especially considering your desire to hide in the shadows from the scary internet monsters.

      1. Bob Amundson

        Wow Doug; your presumptions (“a life so messed up” and “turn every discussion into one about Donald Trump”) are so flawed. You don’t know Barry; please don’t make judgemental statements like that.

          1. Bob Amundson

            Words of wisdom I’ve tried to live by – Assume Ability and Teach Tolerance. Sometimes living by those values is really hard!

    2. Barry

      But back on point.

      It was hilarious to read Lindsey and Mitch praise Trump’s “leadership“ on the COVID relief bill when behind the scenes they had to drag his rotting carcass all the way home so he’d sign the bill.

  8. Barry

    To any attorneys out there. Question I saw on twitter

    “ Not to get stuck on this Gohmert lawsuit, but my mind’s still blown. It repeatedly refers to the fake resolution signed by legislators *but never introduced or passed* as if it’s real. “The State of Arizona” appointed its electors; these guys just copied some letterhead.”

    It seems Rep Louis Gohmert filed a lawsuit to force the Vice President to only accept electoral college votes from states Trump Won.

    The lawsuit REPEATEDLY refers to an Arizona resolution as if it’s legislation actually passed by their legislature. The truth is that the resolution is not something that was passed by the legislature. It wasn’t even introduced as a resolution.

    Is there no penalty at all for attorneys intentionally misleading the court?

  9. Barry

    Has anyone noticed the slow rollout of the vaccinations?

    I’m seeing it mentioned in the news now.

    My issuer received the shot last week As she is a healthcare worker. No issues. But she did mention to me last week she thought the rollout was especially slow.

    1. Randle

      Katie Tur said on MSNBC tonight that at the rate shots were being administered, it would take 10 years to get everyone vaccinated. I am guessing that is both doses. Good grief, these people are idiots.
      Not gonna take a decade, of course, because we elected a capable person. Three more weeks.

  10. Norm Ivey

    Late to the party. I was making rather merry…

    I dislike Drummer Boy as well, but I have found one tolerable version by Johnny Cash. He leaves out most of the pa rump pa pa pums. Which shortens it and improves the flow of the story. I also dislike 12 Days and that Mariah Carey song.

    Some of my favorites:
    Louis Armstrong Christmas Night in Harlem
    Elvis Presley I’ll be Home on Christmas Day
    Tracy Thorn Joy
    Steve Earle Nothing but a Child
    Bob Dylan Must be Santa (watch the video)
    And the newest addition to my playlist is Dropkick Murphys The Season’s upon Us

  11. Brad Warthen Post author

    I was thinking about something this morning, while listening to the radio…

    Isn’t it weird that the world — the radio, TV, public address systems in stores, etc. — is so obsessed with cranking out Christmas music for MONTHS ahead of Christmas.

    And then, when the 12 day finally arrive, by the second day it all comes to a sudden STOP.

    During these days of Christmas, the only place I ever hear Christmas music is at church — or rather, this year, from streaming church.

    But occasionally there’s an exception. I was about to tweet out an abbreviated version of the above observation this morning, when all of a sudden public radio was playing some variations on “Silent Night”… So I held off.

    But mostly, out in the big, wide, secular world, the music is gone during actual Christmas


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