Most of us welcome hearing a favorite holiday recording, whether it’s sung by Ella Fitzgerald or Adam Sandler or Josh Groban. But then there are the perennial parade of artists who eggnog it up with cringe-inducing results (the Spice Girls’ 1998 cover of “Christmas Wrapping” comes to mind — lumps of coal all around for that one!), causing an early onset Fa-la-la Fatigue. Well, here’s my gift for the geek in everyone: a most excellent Xmas tune that isn’t about angels or Santa or pine trees. Call it a sci-fi Christmas carol.
The dark, hilarious lyrics of Jonathan Coulton’s “Chiron Beta Prime” (click here for a listen, or check out an embedded, fan-made video after the jump) can only be described as a holiday-newsletter-meets-cry-for-help, sung by a man enslaved on an asteroid by robot overlords (“Did I say overlords? I meant protectors.”) I genuinely mean it when I say the 2006 recording, which sounds as if androids with synth skills are providing the menacing accompaniment, charms me every time I play it. And I can’t stop playing it!
JoCo, as fans call the singer-songwriter, is beloved in the blogosphere for “Code Monkey,” his oddly sweet rocker about life as a lovelorn software programmer (the tune is the theme song for the G4 channel’s animated series Code Monkeys.) Coulton is also actively involved in the movement known as Creative Commons, in which artists forgo traditional copyrights to retain more freedom in sharing their work. (Coulton’s site makes it easy, but not mandatory, to donate a few bucks if you decide to listen to his work. I’d recommend “Millionaire Girlfriend,” for a mellow chuckle, “Tom Cruise Crazy” for a snarky laugh, the rock-out ode “Curl” for fans of the winter Olympics and/or frostbite, and the absurdist folk cover of “Baby Got Back” for fans of Sir Mix-a-lot and/or the banjo.)
So, will one little ditty about meanie robots make your whole season bright? I hope so! Meanwhile, I’d like to know how many PopWatchers are reveling in all the Yuletide music wafting through the air right now — and how many can’t wait until January? And by all means, if you have a favorite (or least favorite) holiday-themed recording, chime in!