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Christmas music: A silent night may be best

At this time of the year, Christmas carols bring us joy and cheer (and help send X particles to Santa, to strengthen him in his battle against Frosty - see last week's column). But I think it's important to create categories for everything.

At this time of the year, Christmas carols bring us joy and cheer (and help send X particles to Santa, to strengthen him in his battle against Frosty - see last week's column).

But I think it's important to create categories for everything. Christmas carols are not just one generic lump. They can be compared and contrasted to one another, in ways that illuminate the season. And if that doesn't shed enough light, we can burn a pile of Justin Bieber CDs.

So here are the types of Christmas carols, as determined by the least musical person you have ever met.

. Ancient carols

These are songs which have endured for centuries. In the middle ages and early modern times, carollers (also known as wassailers) would go from door to door, singing a variety of different songs, and demanding wassail for their efforts.

Wassail has booze in it. Yes, in the past, Christmas was basically alcoholic Halloween. Truly, we have lost the meaning of Christmas.

. Classics

These are songs that have stood the test of time. From Silent Night to White Christmas, they're relatively modern, but with at least a few decades under their belt.

Of course, many of these songs were cranked out in a hurry, by people who had no idea they'd be sung for years. Franz Gruber was just fiddling with his guitar and worrying about finding cash to pay for the busted organ when he plucked out Stille Nacht.

. The Get Out Of My Record Contract Early Christmas Single

A lot of bands sign four or five album deals with labels, realize they hate the contracts, and then try to escape. So they do three albums, maybe a greatest hits and B-sides collection, and then, of course, a Christmas album. This will be a half-hearted affair, recorded in three days in July in a stuffy studio. It will likely include at least one-

. Christmas love song

A song that has nothing to do with Christmas, but with the desire of some hot young singer to be with some other hot young person. Mistletoe may be referenced, but this is basically a generic pop song. You could generate one by randomly combining the words "Santa," "love," "miss you," "snow," and "baby" in various ways.

Boy bands cranked out so many of these that it noticeably increased landfill volumes in North America in the late 1990s.

. Diva song

Not actually a specific type of composition, the diva song can be anything from the oldest carol to the shallowest pop confection. It doesn't matter.

It's not about the subject matter, its about the singer showing off her (or occasionally his) pipes. Expect her to hit seven or eight notes where one would do. Technical virtuosity will substitute for any actual emotion, holiday-related or otherwise.

. Holiday glurge

Exemplified by The Christmas Shoes. If I was caught in a bear trap, and The Christmas Shoes was playing on a loop on a nearby stereo, I would gnaw through my own leg, then use the leg to smash that stereo to bits.

. Novelty songs

Honestly, the best kind of song after the classics. Porky Pig singing Blue Christmas. Bob and Doug McKenzie trying to count to 12. Grandma and her terrible encounter with a reindeer.

But if you're some kind of Grinch who doesn't like even singing pigs, I advise turning off the radio until after the holidays.

But be warned: Arbour Day is coming, and the carols for that holiday are much, much worse than those for Christmas.

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