For Christmas 2019, I decided to add to our canon of beloved Christmas carols…with help.
Using a predictive-text keyboard primed with the lyrics to over a hundred Christmas songs, I generated lyrics for new carols. I then set them to music using Noteflight.
The results range from “almost cool” to “disturbingly obsessed with skin.”
Please enjoy these Christmas Carols Nobody Asked For.
Vol. 1: Is That You, Santa?
The least good of the bunch, “Is That You, Santa?” nevertheless taught me a lot about the art of putting lyrics to music. This song has no recognizable structure, and its lyrics are basically unsingable, but it paved the way for the rest of the series.
Vol. 2: Christmas Will Christmas on Christmasing Day
English folk carols are among my favorite songs to sing, play and arrange. So I took a shot at creating one. The result is “Christmas Will Christmas on Christmasing Day,” which sounds as realistically English as anything I’d create without predictive text.
Vol. 3: Sweet Silent Tree
“Sweet Silent Tree” is in the canon/round tradition of Christmas songs. The four-part round, scored for marimba and vibraphone, is especially haunting and probably the best musical work on the list.
Vol. 4: Skin Carol
A Facebook friend pointed out that you can make any noun creepy by putting the adjective “skin” before it. “Skin Carol” was the result of my taking this idea to its holiday extreme. For bonus creep factor, this one is in easily-rememberable, easily-singable call/refrain form.
Vol. 5: By Candlelight Swans Three
Many of our best-beloved carols are of Victorian origin, including “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and so on. “By Candlelight Swans Three” is my contribution to the Victorian carol tradition, and definitely my favorite set of predictive-text lyrics.
Vol. 6: Hollering Christmas Home
Songs like “White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “It’s Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” were written back when the Boomer generation were children, which is why the rest of us have been subjected to them year after year. In the interest of fulfilling my Millennial duty to kill everything Boomers love, I submit the 1940s/50s-inspired “Hollering Christmas Home.”
Vol. 7: Emily’s Christmas Blues
The blues has had a good run in Christmas songs, even if it’s not the season’s best-beloved genre. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent as a teen learning to improv over 12-bar blues, so I gave Botnik the same opportunity. “Emily’s Christmas Blues” is guaranteed to amuse the Emily in your life, or my name isn’t also Emily.
Vol. 8: The Christmas Heart Song (In Christmas Hot Damn)
Boomer-era carols are gradually being rotated off playlists as two generations of pop musicians attempt to reach Mariah Carey levels of fame by generating The New Hit Pop Carol(TM). “The Christmas Heart Song” is my contribution to this valiant effort. Like “The Christmas Song,” this tune is likely to become better known by its most recognizable line, “In Christmas, hot damn.”
Vol. 9: Merry Christmas Baby
A number of Christmas carols were written specifically for children to learn and sing, like “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” Others, while not specifically for children, are sufficiently easy to learn that they’ve become associated with children over the years, like “Away in a Manger” and “Feliz Navidad” (which is one of the first carols I ever learned in preschool). “Merry Christmas Baby” is my contribution to the genre, for parents everywhere who just can’t handle one more off-key rendition of the “Jingle Bells” chorus no matter how cute it is.
Vol. 10: Christmas Dinner Belling (coming Christmas morning)
The lyrics to “Christmas Dinner Belling” were the first thing I ever produced with Botnik, around Christmas 2017. To finish off the Bad Carols series, I thought it only fitting to put the original lyrics to music. The result is creepier than I expected, yet filled with portentious holiday cheer. Play it at your holiday party and let everyone sing his beard!