"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Noddy vs. Roy on Christmas: The BIG Question

Caitlin Moran of the Times of London asks several important questions about Christmas in the paper's December 18 issue, the most important of which is, who wrote and performed the better Christmas song, Roy Wood of Wizzard or Noddy Holder of Slade?

Slade is one of the most underrated rock bands of all time, at least in the United States. The great pub rockers brought a delightful Scottish, working-class flair to hard rock in the early to mid 1970s (and some of the worst clothing fashions of all time), and made great, fun music well into the 1980s. You've probably heard Quiet Riot's cover versions of Slade's classic songs "Cum on Feel the Noize" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now," but Slade's originals are far superior. Slade is simply one of the fun-est rock bands ever.

Yes, it's Slade on Top of the Pops

Then of course there's Wizzard, led by mad musical prodigy Roy Wood, about whom I've written earlier on this site. (Hit the search box for more.)

Roy Wood in 2004And the two wrote a pair of great Christmas rock songs. Roy wrote, performed, and produced "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" (see video here), and Noddy and his band put out "Merry Christmas Everybody," which Ms. Moran describes as Noddy's attempt at "the great working-class Christmas song." Well, they're both perfectly delightful, but the point of Christmas arguments is that you have to decide. Here's what Moran has to say:

Slade v Wizzard: in the thrilling Merry Christmas Everybody, Noddy Holder intended to write the great working-class Christmas song. With its euphoric debauchery undercut with melancholy, and its Royle Family-like lyrics (“Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?/ Then she’s up and rock’n’rolling with the rest”), Merry Christmas Everybody does, to its endless credit, accurately simulate wandering round your home-town Woolie’s, drunk and whimsical on Christmas Eve, wondering whether to buy your mum a pink Ladyshave for £9.99. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, meanwhile, is so great that one simply goes along with Roy Wood’s assertion that it would be great if every day were Christmas Day. Rather than pausing for a minute and saying “Actually, Roy, if it were Christmas every day, the UK’s productivity rates would ensure that we were a Third World country by March, and we’d all have scoliosis from sleeping on an inflatable mattress in the spare room. And, indeed, would have noticed that the person most set to benefit from it being ‘Christmas every day’ would be someone famous mainly for having written a very big song about it being Christmas every day (ie, you).”

Winner: Slade. However much of a genius Wood is, there’s only one song that has Holder shouting “IT’S CHRIIIIIIISMUSSSSS!” Though honourable mention must be made of John and Yoko’s hilarious Happy Christmas (War Is Over), and the bit at the end where Lennon clearly can’t be bothered to write another verse of slightly pious yuletide doggerel, and he and Yoko go “ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH” instead.

I love her description of John Lennon's song as pious and the lyrics as doggerel, though I would delete the word "slightly" and substitute something like "horrendously." But we're in basic agreement on that one, I'd say.

Getting back to happier things, however, why not compare the two contenders yourself? Here's the video for Roy's and Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday," and here's a nice independent video of a couple of lads and their friends and rels larking about to Noddy's and Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody!" Enjoy.


From Karnick on Culture.

3 comments:

Evanston said...

Sorry, I'm a music lover (pop, punk, folk, classical, you name it) but really don't like either song.
Both groups are eager, but neither song is catchy nor particularly well-executed.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Slade's greatness is proved by the fact that years later, Quiet Riot's "Cum On Feel The Noize" was a note-for-note remake of the original, including the sound and phrasing of the gritty tenor vocal.

Unfortunately, frontman Noddy was a very odd-looking geezer, and that sort of thing just doesn't wash in the US.

Considering that, according to the Wiki,

In total, Slade had 17 top 20 hits between 1971 and 1976 including six #1s, three #2s and two #3s. No other UK act of the period enjoyed such consistency in the UK top 40 and Slade actually came the closest to emulating The Beatles' 22 top ten records in a single decade (1960s)

and Slade couldn't get themselves arrested in the States, we can safely say that it's not all about the music.

S. T. Karnick said...

Tom, once again you show yourself to be a man of great taste and erudition. Slade is due for a revival in the UK and a first blush of romance in the United States.