5 Fun (or Geeky) Takes on “12 Days of Christmas”

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{Header image by Angie Fiedler Sutton.}

Note: this article was also published on Tea & Fiction.

It’s that time of the year again, where every store you go into has Christmas music playing. And while there does tend to be a good batch to listen to, there’s one song that can divide a caroling party into a fight worthy of West Side Story.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a carol from 1780 and thought to be French in origin. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) It, of course, covers the eponymous days, which start Christmas day and are said to be the days it took the Wise Men to get to Jesus with their unusual baby shower gifts. And while the cumulative nature of the song was probably some 1700 way of keeping a song going, in 2017 it just means the song tends to get old, fast.

But anyone who knows me knows I enjoy a good fun cover song. This song is no exception. So here are five fun (or geeky) covers of “12 Days of Christmas”. And I apologize in advance if this gets the song stuck in your head.

Taking It With Humour

When I was in the 4th grade, my classroom did the project where we had to figure out how much actually sending the gifts mentioned would cost. The project included ways to figure out the more nebulous things (like ladies dancing or lords a’leaping). And in fact, every year, the PNC calculates the “Christmas Price Index”. (Here’s a link to what it would cost in 2017.)

While yes, the point of this exercise was to work on math skills, what it truly taught me was the sheer amount of gifts the poor ‘true love’ actually gets by the end of the 12th day.

Well, Brian Sibley must have had the same thought. “… And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree” is more of a skit and less of a song, and is written as a series of letters from the ‘true love’ (played by Penelope Keith) every day as she receives that day’s gifts. At first, she is effusive in her thanks, cooing over the partridge and the thought of the gift from her dearest Algernon. But as the days progress, she gets increasingly frustrated and less enamored of the man.

First broadcast in 1977 on BBC Radio 4, I remember hearing this version when I was young. It drips with that perfect sense of British humour and wit, bringing a fresh take on this song.

A New Seasonal Tradition

 

Tom Smith is one of my favorite singers. If you’re not aware of him, he’s a filker from Michigan and has won the Pegasus Award for excellence in filking 14 times. (For those uninitiated, filk music is a geeky music genre that has science fiction/fantasy themes, and many times does parody songs ala “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “The Saga Begins”.)

Many, MANY years ago (it was just after the prequel trilogy, if I remember right), I came across his “Twelve Days of Star Wars.” Filled with Wookies, pod racers, and droids a’plenty, the song is an amusing take on the song with a geeky twist.

Of course, when Disney bought out Lucasfilm and moved the release dates of the new Star Wars movies from May to December, that meant that Star Wars is now a holiday tradition (well, outside of the “Star Wars Holiday Special”). So it’s even timelier to include this version of the song in your holiday music.

Getting Lynchian

Back in 2013, BuzzFeed posted this article about a very David Lynch version of the song. As the article states, in 1990, the Twin Peaks cast recorded their own twisted version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for KROQ FM in Los Angeles. It is as bizarre as the show it comes from.

With the show making a comeback on Showtime this year, it’s only appropriate to bring back talking logs, damn fine cups of coffee, and “a body, dead, wrapped in plastic”.

Awkward Puppets

When YouTube really started rolling out the idea of web series in 2012, one of the many options was the Nerdist’s delightfully odd “Neil’s Puppet Dreams”, starring Neil Patrick Harris and the Miskreant Puppets, a more ‘adult’ side of the Muppets from Jim Henson Studios.

The Nerdist also released their version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, with drunk crabs, puppies pooping, and inappropriate thoughts. This version is definitely not one for the kids. But if you like Avenue Q, you’ll get a giggle out of it.

A Tradition all its Own

What is talking about versions of “Twelve Days of Christmas” without bringing what is probably the most famous take? Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) were a popular skit from the television show SCTV, and famous for their stereotypical take on Canadians.

Released in 1981 on their Great White North album, the song takes everything that was funny about the McKenzie brothers and makes it sing (pun intended). Beer, back bacon, and golden tooks, eh?

And One Serious (But Still Geeky) Version

In true fandom 5+1 fashion, I wanted to end with an actual version of the song without any twist or parody about it. A good friend of mine who’s a massive fan of Supernatural introduced me to this ‘more serious than I expected, considering the singer’ version. From the “Christmas with Friends” album, it’s sung by Misha Collins (who plays Castiel) and Jason Manns. Collins has a delightful singing voice, and as mentioned it’s surprisingly tame version of the song.

Of course, that’s just five (plus one) takes on this classic song. The Wikipedia page for the song lists several versions, including an Allan Sherman version and a Sesame Street take that would easily fit onto this list. But I find these takes make the song just this side of tolerable. Happy holidays, and have fun listening!

See all my 5 Fandom Friday posts here.

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