Music News

A Hazy Shade of Christmas

After listening to a cumulative 41 hours of 97.3 KBCO’s online streaming Christmas music over the past few days, I found myself grappling with a very important question: Where was “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by the Bangles?

Well, that’s not a Christmas song, you may counter. But you’d be wrong. “A Hazy Shade of Winter” is clearly a song about winter, and, in this culture, any song about winter is conflated with Christmas. Take “Jingle Bells” or “Winter Wonderland”; there’s nary a “Baby Jesus” nod among them, but you’ll never find them on the radio in, say, February. I don’t know why we associate winter songs with Christmas. It’s not like “Summer Lovin’” is only played at the Fourth of July, or that “Springtime for Hitler” has become the anthem of Easter. Maybe the only song to buck the winter-holiday trend is “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice – though, who knows. Maybe that should be considered a Christmas ditty, too.

The seasonal theme of “A Hazy Shade of Winter” isn’t the only reason it should be a holiday song. Take a look at the lyrics: The second verse mentions a Salvation Army band! That’s pure Christmas. Sure, the rest of the song may be a bit depressing, all about brown leaves, melting patches of snow, and getting plastered off vodka and lime, but who hasn’t felt down on Christmas? Shouldn’t there be more choices for holiday-time pop-music Prozac other than “Blue Christmas?”

Furthermore, it’s time we add to the woefully depressing catalog of 1980s Christmas songs. Right now the list is topped by “Last Christmas,” about George Michael ripping his own heart out of his chest and passing it around like a platter of cookies, and “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” the most naively xenophobic song of all time (There’s a reason they don’t know it’s Christmas in Africa, assholes: Most of them don’t celebrate it.).

Finally, the Bangles’ version of “A Hazy Shade of Winter” kicks ass. Their video, all teased hair and television monitors, kicks ass. The movie it’s associated with, Less than Zero, kicks ass (Andrew McCarthy? Check. Robert Downey Jr.? Check. James Spader? Check). Most importantly (and this is why we’re not discussing the original version of the song by Simon & Garfunkel), the Bangles are foxy. ’Nuff Said. – Joel Warner

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Sean Cronin