An Explanation

Several times now (I hesitate to say 'repeatedly'), Holly has requested an explanation of what is wrong with "The Little Drummer Boy". (Again, I do like Josh Groban's version but will get to that later.) I figured it was time to enlighten her and anyone else who doesn't get it. Here's my reasons:

1. It's almost always done very slowly and in a long, boring fashion. It just takes too dang long to drag through it and it sounds the same same same all the time. Boring.

2. It has really dumb lame words (i.e. "pa-rum-pa-pum-pum". These are not great words. I get that they are supposed to sound like drums, but they don't.)

3. Usually when you even get some drumming action in the accompaniment (which - there should be a lot of drumming -- it's a song about drums!!) it's a big, booming bass drum that doesn't go with the music. Which itself is pretty repetitive and boring. (see above)

4. It's been performed by everyone and their dog. I've heard it performed by some very interesting performers (i.e. Johnny Cash, the Chipmunks, and some cowboy who sang it off-key and really slow) which doesn't add a thing to a song that doesn't have much going for it in the first place.

5. Need I say more?

But I do like Josh Groban's interpretation. Why?

1. Because his tempo is good. He moves it along at a nice, snappy pace.

2. Even when he has to sing 'pa-rum-pa-pum-pum' repeatedly, it's moving along quickly enough that it isn't as annoying as it usually is. And his articulation is good so at least ithe words don't sound more mushy than they really are. (And by mushy, I just mean unintelligible.)

3. He has some really stellar snare drumming going on and that makes it fun to listen to. After all, it is about a drummer!! Yay for Josh for hiring a good one.

4. Josh sings it much better than I've ever heard it sung. His voice really suits the music. (that is not to say that I find his voice boring). He uses some great orchestrations -- I especially like the Celtic flute/slide whistle that comes in about the middle of the song. He also does a really nice musical transition from a lower key up to one a bit higher which also provides some interesting stuff to listen to.

5. With this arrangement, I actually can get past the other stuff and hear the message about giving the baby Jesus what gifts we have. Which is, really, what it's all about.

Just so you all know.
(picture via paula becker)


100 Percent Cottam said...

i'm not so much for gibberish in my songs either. i like sufjan's version. it's slow and mellow, but i love it.

Jill said...

I agree--I usually hate that song. I'll have to check out Josh's version to see if it tickles my fancy. Because my fancy has never been tickled when it came to that song.

Emily said...

Well now I really have to get his CD. I'm missing out.

Hacking it up said...

Here! Here! I whole-heartedly agree! Another I can't stand is Grandma got run over by a reindeer....I wish some hunter would take that deer out!

Melissa said...

Say Josh sing this on Oprah and did enjoy his version :)

Jori said...

I love you Jan! I like that you have good reason's to back up your opinion. I like the Josh version too, but that is the only version that does anything for me. I guess if you and Nat don't like gibberish in your music you aren't big fans of Obe la dee obe la dah?(sorry it's 1:47 a.m., I am a little bit weirdo at this hour;)

Natalie Scott said...

Ditto. Ryan HATES Little Drummer boy for many of the same reasons. But we LOVE LOVE LOVE Josh's version. I've been listening to it constantly when I'm home.

The other night Ry and I were watching Andrea Bocelli on PBS. Do you like him? I was in tears. What a voice!

Holly O. said...

Thank you!!!!

hoLLy said...

my friend just bought me the Josh Groban Noel CD the other day for a gift and i LOVE every song on it. and i agree, this version of this song is great-one of the best versions i've heard! i hate it when people do it so slow too-it just drags on and on.

Cammie said...

Great post. I love the way you back up your opinion with points of proof. You should be a lawyer!

Heather said...

Couldn't agree more, nicely said!