Last night I was lucky enough to attend the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center with a certain Kevin I know. And it was lovely – that tree really is huge, and the artwork on the building is gorgeous, and it wasn't even all that cold. There were some pretty great performances by Michael Bublé and Katherine McPhee, and even though I'm pretty sure Tony Bennett had no idea where he was he sounded just fine.
But then this happened.
Now it didn't happen live, because – big secret! – parts of the show were pre-taped, including Master Bieber's sadistic torture of a poor innocent Drummer Boy there. But since we were right underneath the tree (behind it, not across the skating rink), we watched all the performances on the big screens they had set up anyway. (And trust me when I say that even though he wasn't there, just the words "Justin Bieber" appearing on a screen or being said into a microphone awoke an ecstatic shriek in the crowd the likes of which you'd likely hear if Jesus showed up with Elvis and the deceased Beatles and announced a summer tour.)
Live or not live isn't the point, though. The point is that this... whatever it is happening here is awful. I stood there, mouth agape in horror as I watched this good-looking kid in an oversized bellhop uniform take a perfectly nice Christmas song and beat it up like he wanted the Little Drummer Boy's lunch money. And that's before Busta Rhymes even showed up.
It's not that I'm some Christmas carol purist. I don't mind an update or an irreverent holiday tune. (In fact I'll be putting together a list of some of my favorite Christmas songs to post here later in the month). But there's a difference between "irreverent" and "really really bad." And this... this was bad.
Do I begrudge the teens their idol? Of course not. I was among the shrieking masses at a Tiffany/New Kids On The Block/Tommy Page triple bill when I was 14. Teen idols are a part of our culture, and sometimes they're talented and sometimes they're not. The thing that really gets me about Bieber is that he really can sing – it's obvious. But instead of just taking a lesson from Mr. Bublé and using that talented voice to perform a song in a simple, confident way without any frippery, he hops around like Peter Pan on meth and looks like he's got kidney stones while he's belting and he raps and plays air guitar and dear god just make him stop.
The parts where he actually sang the melody were quite nice. I'm sure he's a lovely kid. I just hope he grows out of this... whatever it is. And that Mariah Carey didn't permanently damage him in any way for the thirty whole seconds they seemed to actually work together on this steaming hot mess. *
*Full disclosure: my retail job plays about four different versions of this song every holiday season as part of our music rotation, which means I hear it about six times a shift. I used to love this song. Now it gives me rage blackouts. And I'm grateful for that since it spared me any more time looking at Mariah's eye sore of a Santa outfit in this video. Remember when she wore clothes? Those were good times.