The Fifteenth Day of Mellowmas: Un-Wonderful Mellowmastime

Jason: Can I start out today’s Mellowmas entry with a long-distance dedication?

Jeff: Oooh, is this Mellowmas for lovers only?

Jason: Oh, hell no. I’d like to dedicate today’s track to Jeff Vrabel who, as far as I know, doesn’t read any of this shit.

Jeff: Uh oh.

Jason: I mean, maybe he does. But he doesn’t comment or retweet it, even though we bust our asses retweeting whatever he writes about Bruce Springsteen. But I do know he hates today’s track. Without even hearing it, I know he hates it.

Jeff: Shit! I was afraid I knew where this was going.

Jason: Yup! It’s a cover of the song that needs no cover, ever: “Wonderful Christmastime”!

Jeff: You say “Mellowmas” and “Jeff Vrabel,” and I hear “Wonderful Christmastime.” AND NOW I WON’T HEAR ANYTHING ELSE FOR THE REST OF THE DAY. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuugh.

Jason: I think you’ve just told me, but refresh my memory: do you hate “Wonderful Christmastime”?

Jeff: I don’t hate it like Vrabel hates it, but I’d rather not listen to it, ever.

Jason: See, I like “Wonderful Christmastime.” Granted, I have many well-documented issues, but I like it.

Jeff: It’s just so dumb. And such an earworm. See, it’s already looping through my brain, and we haven’t even started yet.

Jason: It’s both of those things, yes.


Jason: But I also think it’s got great synthesizer, and you can’t deny it’s a truly unique Christmas song. There’s not another song out there that sounds like it.

Jeff: For which I’m grateful.

Jason: You and many people, I’m sure. I know most of them. And I agree that one version is enough. Even more than “Last Christmas,” I think this song never needs a cover. And yet, here we are, with a cover of “Wonderful Christmastime” by Kelly Rowland.

Jeff: A singer who never needs to record a solo song meets a song that never needs another cover!

Jason: Exactly!

Jeff: Kelly Rowland: the Rosalind Ashford of modern R&B.

Jason: And do you know how I found this song?

Jeff: By lurking in the coldest corners of Jeff Vrabel’s nightmares?


Jeff: I…wait, what?

Jason: …and just like that, every evil eye glaring at me turned over to you.

Jeff: You must be mistaken.

Jason: You sent me NOW (That’s What I Call Christmas), Vol. 4.

Jeff: I kind of remember this. It has some newly recorded tracks, doesn’t it?

Jason: It’s a bit of both. And I was grateful for the gift, because not only was I able to replace some of my poor recordings of Christmas classics with these higher-fidelity versions, but I was able to send shit like this right back to you.

Jeff: sigh A Mellowmas Miracle.

Jason: You’re welcome. So the question is: can Kelly change my mind about “Wonderful Christmastime” covers? Can it make you change your mind altogether?

Jeff: THAT’S the question?

Jason: Can it drive Jeff Vrabel to throw himself off a cliff? I think it can, at the very least, accomplish one of these.

Jeff: Those are pretty tall orders. I’m not sure a Kelly Rowland song has ever inspired anyone to do anything.

Jason: …go back and listen to old Destiny’s Child records?

Jeff: Maybe it’ll inspire McCartney to order his publisher to automatically reject any further requests to cover this song.

Jason: See? So some good COULD come out of this! Remember: at the end of the day, we both want the same thing.

Jeff: The mood is right and the spirit’s up, I suppose.

Jason: Go!

Kelly Rowland, “Wonderful Christmastime”

Jeff: Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhggggggghhhhh. Oh no.

Jason: Wow! Just when you thought synthesizers couldn’t get any worse!

Jeff: Why does she sound whiter than McCartney?

Jason: Hippity-hop, Jeff!

Jeff: Today’s drum program brought to you by Ritalin!

Jason: Oh, she’s taking the vocal somewhere else! Just what we needed!

Jeff: Taking it right to the corner of Uninspired and Stop It!

Jeff: Ah, the children’s choir is Kelly. Of course it is. I was kind of hoping it’d be Mariah Carey, but this works too.

Jason: She’s retaining some elements, but she’s still trying to make it her own. And none of it is working.

Jeff: The word is out, Jason. About the town. Kelly Rowland has no career.

Jason: “They sing ding dong.” Word, Kelly.

Jeff: Specifically, they sing it when they see her. “Yo, ding dong!”

Jason: There’s still, like, a minute left.


Jason: It’s like the record is stuck.

Jeff: Every extra round through that chorus is like a needle in my ear.

Jason: If you want to make this song a dance track, go remix the original. Don’t try and do a new version. It’s unnecessary.

Jeff: Why is this song still going?

Jason: At 3:41, it’s only six seconds shorter than Macca’s version.

Jeff: And yet it feels two minutes longer. Hold on, I’m punching myself in the face for sending this to you.

Jason: I’m so happy right now. You know why?

Jeff: Because the party’s on and the feeling’s here?

Jason: I’m finally getting you back for “Last Christmas,” fuckface.

Jeff: That doesn’t mean you have more of these somewhere, does it?

Jason: Hey, you know what would be even worse than this?

Jeff: Um, nothing?

Jason: A four-minute, dramatic indie hipster version.

Jeff: No.

Jason: Oh yes.

Jeff: Stop this.

Jason: Too late. It’s on its way to you, and now you have to listen.

Jeff: groan It’s in my browser. Well, I deserve this. Let’s get down to it.

Jason: Ready?

Jeff: No! Not at all!

Jason: Die again!

Tom MacRae – Wonderful Christmastime

Jeff: It starts with silence, which I appreciate. But I don’t think this was encoded at the right speed.

Jason: That’s right. It was encoded at “indie hipster.” Which is my least favorite speed.

Jeff: Is this Iron & Wine?

Jason: This is Tom MacRae. And no, I have no idea who that is, except he’s on Nettwerk, who released this compilation.

Jeff: I’ll have you know my wife likes this version. “Poor guy, he’s lonely. He wants to believe it’s a wonderful Christmastime! Awww.”

Jason: Listen to those dramatic pauses! And the cello!

Jeff: “It’s heartbreaking! His dog just died!”

Jason: I hope your wife asks you to play it again!

Jeff: I hope your wife kicks you in the jimmy! Okay, the cello is pretty. Oooh, dramatic! I like this part. Suck on that, Hare!

Jason: I don’t understand you.

Jeff: Wait, I just looked at how much is left in the song, and now I want to cry.

Jason: He just took the first two lines of one verse, and sang the second two lines of a different verse, so they didn’t rhyme. “That’s how indie I am!”


Jason: “I don’t conform to RHYMES! I’ll end the song with ten seconds of silence to prove how much I don’t conform to McCartney’s feelings of a wonderful Christmastime!”


Jason: Now, I do, in fact, have other versions of this song. But I’m not an asshole like you, so I’m not going to torture you further.

Jeff: For the first time all morning, I feel like it really is a wonderful Christmastime.

Jason: Enjoy, everybody! Especially you, Vrabel!

Jeff: Best of luck with whatever it is you do, Kelly Rowland! Cheer up, indie guy!

Jason: Next year, I’m crossing my fingers for a Rowland/MacRae duet.

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  • Matt

    Remove the vocal from the Kelly Rowland version and it could play under the opening credits of a holiday-themed post-apocalyptic Syfy original, starring Rutger Hauer as Synter Klars.

  • JonCummings

    My biggest concern with the Tom McRae version is that Sting will get some ideas, and re-record that dirge with a lute. I didn’t know a wonderful Christmastime involved sticking your head in the oven.

  • Beau

    Do me a favor. Slam the door. Don’t let him in.

  • jvrabel7

    I hate the lot of you

  • dslifton

    Christ, was Tom MacRae inspired by that idiot who dirged up the Footloose soundtrack?

  • Anonymous

    Ha ha ha! I forgot all about that!

  • Ted

    Hahahahaha! That’s perfect, Matt.

  • Scott in StL

    By far the best part about this was the link to Jeff Vrabel’s blog where I got read about him meeting Bruce Springsteen.

  • Anonymous

    The ridiculous thing with McRae is how he pauses on those last lines of each verse: “So lift a glass…(presses speed dial button corresponding to suicide hotline, hangs up before the first dial tone)…and don’t look down.”

    And I wonder what McCartney would think of his living holiday royalty check, recast as the music to a particularly maudlin (and thankfully nonexistent) Grey’s Anatomy montage.

  • Michael Burke

    I can’t add anything to this. You are both horrible bastards.

    OK I can add to it. The Rowland version is much MUCH worse than the original (which I did not think possible.)

  • dslifton

    And yet, that post made me want to kill Jeff out of pure jealousy. But then I read this post, understood the pain he goes through this time of year, and felt he deserved a little joy.

    It’s another Mellowmas miracle.

  • Michael Burke

    The MacRae thing is possibly the most affected recording in all of human history.

    Don’t try and give pathos to Wonderful Xmastime, it just makes you look stupid.

  • dslifton

    I had until this piece of shit!

  • Jack Feerick

    ATTENTION SAD INDIE BOYS: Gary Jules is on the phone, calling from, like, ten years ago, and he would like his schtick back.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that Tom MacRae version is just pathetic in its desperate attempts to be ironic. Who invited that guy to the party? I don’t know either, but get him the fuck away from the piano. Stupid hipsters.

    Hip-hop trend #461,903 that needs to die now: the drum track slowing down like a vinyl record at the end of the measure.

  • Tony Billoni

    Sylvia Plath… with cornbread stuffing. Yummo!

  • Tony Billoni

    Sylvia Plath… with cornbread stuffing. Yummo!

  • Tony Billoni

    Sylvia Plath… with cornbread stuffing. Yummo!

  • Anonymous

    I can see some poor sap at Pier 1 picking up the Nettwerk comp on the strength of the Shag artwork alone thinking (s)he’s getting something hip and festive for his holiday cocktail party. Know the return policy’s all I’m sayin’.

  • Anonymous

    I can see some poor sap at Pier 1 picking up the Nettwerk comp on the strength of the Shag artwork alone thinking (s)he’s getting something hip and festive for his holiday cocktail party. Know the return policy’s all I’m sayin’.

  • Anonymous

    I can see some poor sap at Pier 1 picking up the Nettwerk comp on the strength of the Shag artwork alone thinking (s)he’s getting something hip and festive for his holiday cocktail party. Know the return policy’s all I’m sayin’.

  • Anonymous

    I can see some poor sap at Pier 1 picking up the Nettwerk comp on the strength of the Shag artwork alone thinking (s)he’s getting something hip and festive for his holiday cocktail party. Know the return policy’s all I’m sayin’.

  • Brett Alan

    Wow, it’s hard to get more different from each other while still doing the same song.

    I’m REALLY overdosing on this song right now…in my car at the moment I have a CD-R of Christmas music with emphasis on Beatles stuff, and two OTHER versions of this came up–by Jump5 (a very forgettable teen-pop oriented CCM group), and by the Vienna Boys Choir. So Jason, if Jeff comes at you with more “Last Christmas”, you can always have THOSE in your back pocket!

    OK, I’m going to go listen to something else now. B^)

  • Anonymous

    The Rowland song reminds me of one of those soulless songs piped through the Gap PA during the holidays. Oh wait, it IS one of those soulless songs piped through the Gap PA during the holidays!

  • Stacy Stajcar

    I’ve been overloading on the McCartney channel on XM. And of course heard Wonderful Christmastime this morning. And I thought… Huh. I may be the only one in the world that actually likes this song. Aside from Sir Paul. And obviously Tom McRae whoever he is. He really captured the essen……zzzzzz

  • smf2271

    You know what this reminds me of? Hearing that god-awful techno version of “Heaven” for the first time and turning to my friend and saying “wow, this actually makes me long for Bryan Adams.”

    As the author of “Fixing a Hole,” I was never considering putting it on one of my actual quasi-Beatle albums, but I was torn about whether to think it could’ve been a Beatles holiday release had they stayed together. But after hearing these two versions, I’ll give it a resounding “YES!” if it means that buying the rights to cover it would’ve been cost-prohibitive.

    Paul’s version is still probably my (distant) second-favorite rock-star-penned Christmas song. The first by far being, of course, the Kinks’ “Father Christmas.”

  • Anonymous

    LOVE “Father Christmas.” My band is playing it at a gig tomorrow night.
    (They nixed “Wonderful Christmastime.”)

  • Zyderock

    Least painful cover yet at this blog: from a band called Hold Your Horse Is

  • Zosh

    How can you possibly skip Lady Gaga humping the Timbaland sample library on top of Space Cowboy’s, uhm, let’s say christmas tree? Oh my, that made me throw up in my eardrum a little.

  • Jack Feerick

    Gosh, has it been a whole year already?

  • Zosh

    With help from my orthopedic shoes, I stand corrected.

  • guest

    Wish I was cool enough to not like music as much as you guys.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty brave words there, “Guest.”

  • dslifton

    Apparently, Jason. Tom MacRae is too ironic to register with Disqus.