Monday, December 16, 2013

Musical Monday - 12 Days by Straight No Chaser

Sometimes an adaptation improves upon the original work. I don't much like the traditional song The Twelve Days of Christmas. It is tedious and dull, mostly consisting of mind-numbing repetition. The only song I can think of that is more repetitively boring than The Twelve Days of Christmas is 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, and that song is only useful when used by elementary school students on field trips who want to annoy their teachers. But 99 Bottles of Beer seems to be intended to be annoying, whereas Twelve Days has no such excuse.

And the song is also somewhat deceptive, because when people start singing it, you've forgotten how incredibly mind-numbingly long and awful it is. So for the first couple of verses, when you're skipping through the first couple of numbers of quirky bird-themed gifts, you are thinking that the song isn't as bad as you had thought. But then it drags on. Somewhere about the time the gifts start being milkmaids or pipers, you get tired of the song, and realize with some small horror just how much more is left. And you look at the people around you, and know that some of them share your distaste for continuing, but that there are some truly awful and evil people who have cherubic smiles and too much holiday spirit and who expect that everyone will continue right to the drummers at the bitter end. And so, out of social obligation, you continue to sing this awful song. Unless you're me. I just stop singing and go into the other room. Because life is too short to spend it singing interminably long and boring songs.

But this version of the song is brilliant, because it takes the song and cuts it down to a manageable size while throwing in some variety and humor. Straight No Chaser managed to capture the spirit of the song, the portion that makes it joyful and exciting, and excises all of the tedium. This, unlike Peter Jackson's incredibly overlong and padded out adaptation of The Hobbit, is an adaptation that takes the source material and makes it better. Plus, given that I lived in Africa for several years, the song strikes something of a resonating tone for me.

Previous Musical Monday: The Hobbit Christmas Song by The Doubleclicks
Subsequent Musical Monday: Christmas Eve Eve by Paul & Storm

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