Get What You Pay For?

dec 09 blogs lady has its 25 Days of Free promotion, making available a new song each day for download. Here’s the scorecard so far:

Dec. 1: “Joy to the World” by Casting Crowns – I have to assume this is a Christian rock band, but whether it is or not, its overly earnest, acoustic big rock is for those who … I don’t know. I can’t imagine who’d like this. I’ve already deleted it.

Dec. 2: “Snow Angel” by Tori Amos – Wintry, not Christmas-y. Tis the season for barely suppressed angst or joy. How about we stop suppressing?

Dec. 3: “The Coventry Carol” by Mediaeval Baebes – As I feared, this is a Bond-like vocal group. There’s so much reverb on the voices that I can’t tell if any of the hot women can actually sing. And there’s little hot about the singing. I don’t understand why this exists.

Dec. 4: “Slower Than Christmas” by the Boxmasters – A Billy Bob Thornton song that’s anti-Christmas. What kind of Christmas song is that? “There’s no day slower than Christmas to me,” he sings with a theatrical drawl, making sure that nobody misses the joke. I’m starting to wonder if Amazon knows anything about Christmas.

Dec. 5: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemn” by Jars of Clay – More Christmas music as “art”. This Christmas business is evidently serious, serious stuff. I’m trying to hear comfort and joy, but I’m missing it. When the violin kicks in, though, it sounds like it could be Kansas’ Christmas album. I remember when Kerry Livgren used to be voted Best Instrumentalist in Circus Magazine.

Dec. 6: “Christmas Tree” by Lady GaGa – Finally, something not so po-faced. “Everybody knows we will take off our clothes.” “Light you up / put you on top.” “Oh oh Christmas / my Christmas tree’s delicious.” Jars of Clay, Casting Crowns and Kerry Livgren may be praying for Lady GaGa right now.

Dec. 7: “No Room” by Todd Agnew – White Christian acoustic skanking for Christmas. Why is Amazon’s list of free downloads so dominated by Christian rock bands? And if these are good Christian rock bands, why is anyone listening to Christian rock?

Dec. 8: “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” by Carola – A pristine treatment by Swedish singer Carola, with world music touches to start. Somewhere, a lite rock station is missing an angel.

Dec. 9: “This Christmas Girl” by James Pants – Electro-boogie with James, who wants to meet his girlfriend’s family. This amuses me, and the skronky guitar parts in the background speak a language I understand. We’re more than a week into Christmas, though, and Amazon has yet to put up a song by an African American. Do Blacks not celebrate Christmas anymore, or is Amazon simply all over Kwanzaa?

Dec. 10: “Silent Night” by House of Heroes – Wikipedia says HoH are generally thought to be Christian rock, and this version of “Silent Night” certainly shares a lot with the other Christian rock tracks here. Instead of singing as if they feel the meaning of the song, they enunciate and caress every word like a bad poetry reading. And the guitars are acoustic and “artfully” spare so as to not get in the way of the words.

Dec. 11: “O Holy Night” by Richie McDonald – The singer for country band Lonestar treats “O Holy Night” as piously and imaginationlessly as possible. As with everything here, it’s fine in its way, but what a bland, spiritless way.

After going through that, I’m not sure I can face another day of Amazon’s downloadable Christmas. It makes me sad to think that there are people made happy by such bloodless, impersonal music – regardless of its message. And at this point, we have to assume that Amazon is either uninterested in African Americans and other genre’s Christmas music, or it has created this promotion as a way to give away tracks made available to it by Christian rock labels.

I hoped for better because one of the better free downloads I found this year was also at Amazon – “Boogaloo Santa Claus” by J.D. McDonald from In the Christmas Groove. That, however, was an attempt to drive interest for the album. Still, it’s hard to believe that with Amazon’s corporate muscle, it can’t do better than it’s doing so far.