Jeff: groan

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.

Jeff: YES.

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!


Vanessa Carlton, "Hear the Bells"

Jason: Hear the Bells, an all-new release for 2011!


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.


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.”

Jeff: covers mouth Bill Hader style

Vanessa Carlton, “Hear the Bells” (download)
Vanessa Carlton, "Hear the Bells"
From Hear the Bells

Jeff: Ominous!

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.



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!

About the Author

Jeff Giles and Jason Hare

Two people, separate rooms Trying to hurt the other Bound together by destiny Is there nothing they won’t do? Will we never see them through?

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