Jason: What now?
Jeff: Nothing. Everything. I’ve reached the point of the season where I start having Mellowmas nightmares.
Jason: Welcome to the club! I had my first one in late August.
Jeff: I start dreaming that totally nonsensical artists have made Christmas albums. And then, of course, the worst part is that they all start coming true. A few years ago, I woke up screaming after having a nightmare about a Christmas song from Train.
Jason: And you reached for a Coca-Cola on the nightstand, only to find your worst fears had come to life.
Jason: So clearly you have a nonsensical artist in mind. Let me see if I can guess. Three Doors Down?
Jeff: I think that already happened, didn’t it?
Jason: GODDAMMIT. Smash Mouth?
Jeff: I don’t remember who was singing in my nightmare. I only remember that she played piano and she sounded like a little girl. It was horrifying, Jason.
Jason: Okay, not Smash Mouth, then. Let’s see…piano, sounding like a little girl…isn’t that Regina Spektor?
Jeff: Blech. She already did it too. Remember?
Jason: How could I forget her heart-warming holiday ditty from last year?
Jeff: This girl was almost like Michelle Branch, only not as much.
Jason: Wait…almost like Michelle Branch…that can only mean one thing! It’s gotta be Vanessa Carlton. Because I can never tell the two of them apart.
Jeff: AAAAAHHHH! It was! It was Vanessa Carlton! She was singing about walking a thousand miles and pelting me with sleigh bells.
Jason: And lookee here, Jeff! Another nightmare come true!
Jason: Hear the Bells, an all-new release for 2011!
Jeff: NOT THE BELLS, JASON
Jason: Featuring two Christmas covers, a Christmas original, and guess what the fourth track is? I’ll give you a hint: she had to put it on the album, or else nobody would buy it.
Jeff: “A Thousand Miles (Sleigh Bells Mix)”?
Jason: Close! “A Thousand Miles (Acoustic Version).” Which is good. Because the original version was pretty electric. I mean, who could forget that gritty guitar?
Jeff: Vanessa Carlton has pulled a Mardones at the ripe young age of…what is she, 15?
Jason: That’s ripe Mardones age!
Jeff: She has the singing voice of a precocious fetus.
Jason: Leave her alone, they say!
Jeff: Huh. Turns out she’s 31!
Jason: Is she the one who latched on to Stevie Nicks or is that Michelle Branch?
Jeff: Vanessa Carlton latched onto Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind. Who would you rather latch onto — Stephan Jenkins or Stevie Nicks?
Jason: Oh god, Sophie’s choice right here. Okay, okay, hang on, let me think…okay, I think I’d say Stevie Nicks, because if I latched onto her, I’d stand a chance of meeting Lindsey Buckingham.
Jeff: Or Don Henley. NOT AS MUCH FUN.
Jason: Dammit. You’re right.
Jeff: If you latched onto Stephan Jenkins, you’d stand a chance of getting a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of many of our nation’s finer casinos, rib fests, and minor league ballparks.
Jason: Maybe I’d run into Jack Wagner. Okay, Jenkins it is. I can’t believe you convinced me to choose him over Nicks. You have masterful powers of persuasion.
Jeff: I just wish we were about to listen to a Jack Wagner Christmas song. Why did it have to be Vanessa Carlton?
Jason: Because Jack Wagner doesn’t need the money?
Jeff: Oooooh! Burrrrn. Jack Wagner is too busy touring with Rick Springfield on what I believe is being called the Yellow Rick Road Tour.
And just in case you think I’m making a really horrible joke, I’m not.
Jason: OH GOD MAKE IT STOP
Jeff: Good. Now YOU can have nightmares. Now I’m ready to listen to whatever the hell Vanessa Carlton has been up to.
Jason: Well, I say we go for the original track. Too many people cover “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” and I pretty much hate every single one.
Jeff: Good call. I don’t want to hear anyone cover that song. I mean, I don’t want to hear THIS, either, but…
Jason: FINALLY you understand how I feel about “Last Christmas.”
Well, who knows? Maybe Vanessa has given us a soon-to-be holiday classic. Maybe it’ll join the ranks of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
Vanessa Carlton, “Hear the Bells” (download)
From Hear the Bells
Jason: What instrument is that? Never mind, I don’t care.
Jeff: It’s kind of like a more festive version of the theme from Jaws.
Jason: Oh, I can already tell this is going to be anything but joyous.
Jeff: Bleeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh. It’s “My First Tori Amos Song”! From Mattel.
Jason: Is she recording from inside a toilet bowl?
Jeff: Where are the bells, Vanessa? I only hear a guitar.
Jason: You know what this song could use? Some reverb.
“December, crossing arms in Chinatown as the wind starts to cut through”? What the shit?
Jeff: Something about poison and a stomachache?
Jason: “The poison’s running through you”?
Jeff: Witch doctor?
Jason: It’s Judy Collins for 2011!
Jeff: Yeah, really. What’s going on here? I feel like I missed something.
And still, no bells.
Jason: Right! And she keeps telling us to hear them.
Jeff: Maybe this MEANS something, MAN. Maybe it’s like a STATEMENT or something.
Or maybe I just hate it.
Jason: I know what it means! It means it’s going straight into my trash can!
Vanessa Carlton must be having a really bad life right now.
Jeff: Vanessa Carlton is having a fine life. I’m the one who’s in pain right now. More of this “hear the bells” shit. Now she’s just taunting us.
Jason: STOP TELLING ME TO HEAR THE BELLS VANESSA CARLTON
THERE ARE NO FUCKING BELLS
Jeff: Well. THAT was certainly the opposite of joyous.
Jason: Congratulations, Vanessa. You join the ranks of people who feel like they have to share their pissy Christmas mood with the world. You join Judy and Regina.
Jeff: Except Judy was really telling a story, and I think Regina is legitimately crazy.
Jason: I have taken to YouTube to see what the public thinks of this song: “This is her best album so far. AMAZING. 10/10 material”
Jeff: Oh dear.
Jason: “She was trying to re-create the echo effect that bells have in church towers in a city like London. I find it beautiful it’s pure music artistry! I think you need to listen to more music if you don’t like the audio effects, OBVIOUSLY SHE KNOWS WHAT AUDIO EFFECTS ARE SHE IS A MUSICIAN!”
“Vanessa herself has said this song is about a time when she was sick, both physically and not physically.”
Jeff: “It was today.”
How long before you think we see an “acoustic version” of “Hear the Bells”?
Jason: Y’know, I was just thinking, “I hope someone does this without all the crash cymbals.”
Jeff: Let us make a pact to not listen to any more Vanessa Carlton songs until she releases an acoustic “Hear the Bells.”
Or a duet with Benny Mardones.
Jason: Now THAT’S a deal!