Like the grumpy warrior-poet Don Henley once rasped, “these times are so uncertain.” In this era of crumbling infrastructure, awful manners, and Sarah Palin, it’s hard to know what we can depend on anymore. But we’re luckier than Don Henley, because while he groomed his late ’80s ponytail and sighed dreamily of “a yearning undefined,” we know exactly what we need — the one tradition that still hasn’t let us down.

We’re talkin’ Mellowmas.

Yes, friends, we have arrived once again at that magical time of year when we all snuggle up around our Yule Log Blu-ray and listen to terrible holiday music. The time of year when artists as diverse as Christopher Cross, Tori Amos, Teddy Pendergrass, and Lemmy come together to sing about Christmas and holly and angels and stuff. The time of year when your hosts wish they were deaf, dead, or both:

This is, somewhat unbelievably, our fifth Mellowmas, and we think it’ll be our most festive yet. We have so many surprises for you. In fact, if you’re still speaking to us after Mellowmas 2010 reaches its inevitably crass and bitter conclusion, we think you’ll agree we’ve outdone ourselves. It all starts tomorrow — but while we’re waiting for Mellowmas to begin, how about a walk down memory lane, with a couple of bonus goodies thrown up in?

Nothing gets us in the Mellowmas spirit like the holiday’s classic theme song, written and recorded by the talented and good-humored Alan O’Day:

Alan O’Day – Have a Very Mellowmas (Theme from Mellowmas) (download)

You can’t get enough of that theme, can you? Well, good: we’ve been commissioning remixes and new versions this year. Feast your ears on Zach Curd of Suburban Sprawl‘s bite-sized chunk of melodic Mellowmas love:

Zach Curd – Mellowmas 2010 (download)

But wait! There’s more! The supremely talented and uncommonly witty Eli Bolin has mashed up the Mellowmas theme with Alan O’Day’s big hit, “Undercover Angel,” giving us something Jason has always dreamed of: an “Undercover Mellowmas.”

Alan O’Day and Eli Bolin – Undercover Mellowmas (download)

BUT WE’RE STILL NOT DONE! To celebrate our fifth Mellowmas, we’ve reached out to some of our favorite sites and asked them to give stuff away to you, our readers. Amazingly, they’ve agreed — and we’re kicking off the giveaways today with a gift code good for $10 worth of soul-enriching live rock ‘n’ roll from the good people at Wolfgang’s Vault. All you have to do to enter is visit the Vault and answer the following question:

According to popular legend, which of today’s featured artists started out calling themselves Hot Shit before the label freaked out and made them change their name?

Email your contest entries to Robert Cass before tomorrow at noon PST with the subject line “Your test results are positive” — no answers in the comments, please. In the senseless spirit of Mellowmas, our winner will be chosen at random. Meet us back here tomorrow as we kick off this year’s 25-day odyssey of musical holiday torture!

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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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