The Magazine

Dreck the Halls

A tour through the worst of Christmas music.

Dec 23, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 15 • By MICHAEL LONG
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Whoever tricked ol' Bing into that duet did more than create a bad Christmas record. He also managed to erase from the public mind one of the most influential careers in both music and pop culture, replacing it with the memory of three horrifying moments from a TV special. Bowie's scratchy, wooden tenor wanders through Crosby's peerless bass-baritone like a straight-pin floating around in a bottle of wine, just waiting to catch in someone's throat.

To trainwreck Bing Crosby's reputation while coronating his opposite, a master of style over substance--and using a Christmas carol to do it--well, that's as offensive a holiday happening as there could be. The record captures in a few moments some of the saddest offenses against Christmas, culture, and quality in general. Some holiday songs are bad, but only this one is profoundly so. It's what they play in Hell, and Satan keeps it playing all year long.

Michael Long is a director of the White House Writers Group.