Jeff: I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but it took me decades to develop an appreciation for the fine vocal stylings of Annie Lennox.
Jason: Jesus, you say that name to me, and I still shudder.
Jeff: You had the same problem?
Jason: I remember seeing the “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” video when I was, like, six.
Jeff: YES. Annie Lennox scared the SHIT out of me.
Jason: I bet you said the same thing I did, too: “That dude is freaking me out!”
Jeff: I always knew he was a she, and I think that made it worse somehow.
Jason: I remember wondering if Cyndi Lauper was Annie Lennox with longer hair.
Jeff: When I was four or five, I had these really horrible nightmares about department store mannequins come to life, and in the early ’80s, Annie Lennox looked like a mannequin with a crew cut. shudder
Jason: I think I just peed in my pants a little.
Jeff: It wasn’t until I heard “I Saved the World Today” over the closing scene of a Sopranos episode that I really started to appreciate her voice.
Jason: Wow, that was pretty late in the game. I liked some of her other Eurythmics stuff as well as her solo material. It got to the point where, when she showed up at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert with raccoon eyes, I didn’t even blink.
Jeff: Yeah, that song was from the Eurythmics reunion record that nobody bought, and I love an underdog, so I went back and listened to everything again. She’s still pretty freaky, but damn! What a voice.
Jason: Yeah. I love “Why,” which, incidentally, is a song I sing all Mellowmas.
Jeff: Of course, this year, Annie Lennox joins the growing list of artists who have released inexplicable Christmas albums.
Jason: “Inexplicable” is a good word. Look at that cover!
Jeff: When you dreamed up Mellowmas five years ago, I don’t think you could have imagined a day when we’d see Christmas albums from Sting, Tori Amos, or Bob Dylan. Let alone ALL IN ONE YEAR. And now Annie Lennox.
Jason: Yeah. And she definitely fits in with Sting and Tori Amos in this case. Overblown and ridiculous.
Jeff: And “traditional.”
Jason: That’s the worst part of all.
Jeff: I thought the album cover was the worst part of all. What happened to her? I’d almost prefer a screencap from the “Here Comes the Rain Again” video.
Jason: “Traditional” = “A bunch of songs that nobody fucking knows.” Who picked up this album and went, “Ooooh, a cover of ‘Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant’! Finally!”
Jeff: What, you never caroled “I’l est ne le Divin Enfant”? You know who picked it up and said that? Sting.
Jason: Yeah, or Tori Amos!
Jeff: And Tori picked it up and said “Hey, I wore that dress to breakfast today!” Even before we’ve listened to a note of it, everything about this album makes me sad.
Jason: Now, I do admit to saying the phrase “See Amid The Winter’s Snow” to others, but it was for a very different reason. I don’t want to say what it was, but the color yellow was involved.
Jeff: Bad Carnie! No donut!
Jason: I do admit, I haven’t really listened to this album. And by “haven’t really,” I just mean “I haven’t.”
Jeff: I don’t want to listen to it. But it’s our Mellowmas duty.
Jason: Last year, I listened to every single note of both Sting and Tori Amos, and it was really a difficult experience. And then I listened to their Christmas albums. BAM!
Jeff: I say we compromise here — let’s ignore the obscure shit she did, but cover a song we haven’t done for Mellowmas before.
Jason: That sounds like a plan. What do you have in mind?
Jeff: Like, say, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” I don’t think we’ve ever heard that for Mellowmas.
Jason: Honestly, if we have, I wouldn’t remember. I can’t even remember last week. But okay, I’ll go with that one.
Jeff: Readers, send your memories of last week’s Mellowmas entries to Jason.
Jason: I still haven’t gotten my server settings fixed. But if you send it three times in a row, it should get to me.
Jeff: Okay. Deep breath. Ready for a very Annie Lennox Christmas?
Jeff: Here comes Mellowmas again, Jason. Falling on your head like a memory.
Jason: tries to get picture of Annie Lennox lecturing at me next to a globe out of head
It has “merry” in the title. That has to be a good sign, right?
Jason: Your optimism is one of the things I love most about you.
Jeff: Hold on to that thought while we listen to this song.
Annie Lennox — God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (download)
Jason: AHHHH SHIT WHY IS SHE YELLING AT ME
SO MANY ANGRY ANNIES
Jason: I feel like I need a seatbelt.
Jeff: I feel like I need a blanket to hide under.
Jason: Jeff, you lied to me. This is not merry.
Jeff: Why does she sound so angry? Even these drums are terrifying.
Jason: There’s a high-pitched noise in the background that I think may be the sampled sound of a dog howling.
Jeff: Hold on, I need to get my heaviest coat.
And a flashlight.
And my mommy.
Jason: I’m shivering.
Jeff, I’m six again.
Her hair is short and orange.
Dave Stewart is in the background staring at me.
Jeff: I wet myself.
Is this traditional holiday music?
Jeff: Did parents use the holidays to scare the shit out of their kids in olden times? When she sings about Satan, I want to go to church. I find nothing comforting or joyful about any of this.
Jason: I don’t think Annie understands the phrase “comfort and joy.”
Jeff: “Strident and scary”? Yes.
Jason: Can you imagine this playing in Macy’s? Or during the Radio City Christmas Spectacular?
Jeff: If Macy’s played this, it would have to be during an emergency preparedness sale.
Jason: Shoppers trampling each other in a mass exodus.
Jeff: Whoa, did you hear that ululation at the end?
Jason: I don’t know. I have my head wrapped in a pillow.
Jeff: I think that was either Geronimo or the terrorists winning.
Jason: Well, that’s over. Now I have to clean my chair.
Jeff: And yet I’m sure my nightmares are only beginning. That’s the second song on the album, too! Annie Lennox, what’s wrong with you?
Jason: You know, my next-door neighbors are still having really loud sex almost every night on the other side of my wall. Maybe I’ll play this for them. Unless they’re into S&M. Then this might be just what they’re looking for.
Jeff: I think this is what was playing when the devil impregnated Rosemary. Well, I’m off to burn my Annie Lennox CDs.
Jason: I’m reading some of the Amazon reviews of this album. I have to know what people think of this. Because I can’t figure out its target audience.
Jeff: Enlighten me.
Jason: “Each and every word is clear. She socks them to you.” That is true.
Jeff: Absolutely. I’m utterly socked.
Jason: “If you want an album that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, I guess this wouldn’t be the one for you. But if you are okay with being pushed out of your Christmas comfort zone in such a way that you actually stop to ponder what we’re singing about and how it relates to your life, this is awesome.” Keyword: “pushed.”
Jeff: I guess it’s awesome in the same way giant, horrific explosions are awesome.
Jason: “That said I won’t be playing this during the Christmas meal, unless I want the conversation to focus on our opinions of the album.”
Jeff: “Or why everyone is leaving.”
Jason: “Having just listened to it once for the first time, I can’t believe anyone could waist their energy writing anything less than a rave. A one star review? C’mon, that’s some sort of joke… an infantile one too.” Ooh, I’m going to e-mail this guy a copy of today’s post.
Jeff: Are any of the reviews just sobbing and rocking back and forth? Because that’s what I’d give this.
Jason: “Two Stars For Effort. Wanting To Like This Album.”
Jeff: I’ll give A Christmas Cornucopia all the stars in the world if it means I don’t wake up to find Annie Lennox standing over my bed in the middle of the night.
Jason: Whoa, someone says she used Auto-Tune on one verse of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”! I’m going to have to take his word for it. I’m not listening again. Hang on, I’m going to go look at the one-star reviews. Those are usually more fun anyway. Ah, here’s one.
“Perhaps the un-prettiest Christmas album I ever purchased or heard. And this review coming from a life-long Annie Lennox fan who is prepared to forgive her most anything. She chews and bites and rasps her way through every song. Other reviewers nailed it best: in a word, ‘grating.’”
Jeff: BE CAREFUL ANNIE IS COMING FOR YOU
SHE WILL I’L EST NE YOUR DIVIN ENFANT
Jason: AND DAVE STEWART IS FOLLOWING CLOSE BEHIND
WITH A MASK AND A CELLO