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Erin McKeown - F*ck That

Released on TVP Records Oct. 25, 2011

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Erin McKeown - F*ck That

Erin McKeown - F*ck That

© TVP Records
Once upon a time, there were approximately nine hundred-thousand songs about Christmas. Classic, traditional carols from America and Europe, as well as newer mainstream pop Christmas radio hits. Christmas music was so beloved and ever-present between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it became necessary and appropriate for the biggest pop stars on the planet to, at some point, record a Christmas album. Even if they were born Jewish. (Ahem…Bob Dylan.) This went on for years until there became so much Christmas music in the marketplace, it was granted its own section of the record store. Entire radio stations for round-the-clock Christmas music were developed for the sheer purpose of appearing around the end of November and disappearing before January – like the Halloween stores of the aural airwaves. So much Christmas music, in fact, that there became a “Christmas Music Season” which began the day after Halloween. It was celebrated in every drug store and specialty shop; on airplanes and in bus terminals; department stores and, of course, churches.

In the Folk Tradition

This is a true story, of course. So true, one might almost believe there are two kinds of people in the world – those who embrace Christmas Music Season, and those who bemoan it.

Erin McKeown, it would seem, is one of the latter.

As a singer-songwriter who has dabbled in everything from rock to pop, jazz, and folk, Erin McKeown’s ability to master any genre into which she might throw her hat, is kind of a given at this point. I have to assume she made F*ck That because someone suggested she record a Christmas album at some point. Possibly a family member or a friend who was drunk and thought it made perfect sense. Presumably, McKeown doesn’t identify with the religious connotations of the holiday. Or, if she does, she’s comfortable enough with her spiritual identity that she can poke a little fun at the whole thing.

Regardless, she’s created an anti-Christmas-carols album which is just damn good.

Highlights include gems like “Santa Is an Asshole” (purchase/download) and “You Wish Us a Happy Holidays” (purchase/download) (“You wish us a happy holidays / but you really mean a Merry Christmas” – to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”). “Fa La La La” (purchase/download) is another keeper, set to the tune of “Deck the Halls,” of course. It’s hard to tell exactly, but I think she sings about toenails and being gored by bulls before hitting the money moment at the end of the verse:

Nuclear war and chestnuts roasting
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Also, though she’s not the first to turn “Angels We Have Heard on High” into a song about being stoned, “Visions I Have Had While High” (purchase/download) is an easy gem too. (Bitch and Animal made the hymn into “Angels We Have Heard Are High,” and the traditional refrain of “Gloria!” into “Ganja!”)

The Bottom Line

All this to say traditionalist folk fans might appreciate F*ck That for the sheer fact that McKeown has taken a number of melodies from old hymns and re-written the lyrics, in the folk tradition. Those who are huge advocates of Christmas Music Season, however, may prefer to steer clear. After all, the disc sticks pretty closely to the descriptives used to market it: “the world's first anti-capitalist, pro-queer, suspicious of Christmas-as-patriotism, sex-positive, not safe for work, multi-ethnic, radical leftist Anti-Holiday record.”

But, for anyone who possesses a good sense of humor and even a modicum of cynicism about mainstream America, F*ck That will be a perfect addition to your Christmas Music Season collection.

Anyway, after a couple glasses of spiked egg nog, even the most humorless people in your life won’t be able to resist joining in for a chorus of “Santa how I hate you / and everyone just thinks you’re grand / it is my mission to destroy you / and expose you as an evil man!”

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