(Christmas) Songs That Suck: DOMINICK THE DONKEY

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dominick the donkey
Lou Monte
Roulette Records, 1960

At my age, I thought I had heard all of the annoying novelty Christmas songs that are trotted out every year. “Christmas Don’t Be Late” (aka The Chipmunk Song). “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”. “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”. “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. These are all songs that have been played ad nausium since I can remember. They’re songs that don’t necessarily make me want to hurt fluffy woodland creatures whenever I come across them–as a matter of fact, sometimes it just doesn’t seem like Christmas until I hear one of those songs. However, there appears to be one Christmas song that has managed to escape my notice in all the 40+ years of existence: “Dominick The Donkey”.

There I was, in one of the half-dozen Cost Cutters salons that populate the town of Fremont, Nebraska, about to get my shaggy mane trimmed, when this song came on the piped-in overhead music. I sat, transfixed, at how annoying and yet herpes-like catchy this song was. Moreso at the fact that this song seemed to be about a donkey (duh) that helps Santa get some toys to children in Italy, because Santa’s reindeer seem to have trouble climbing the Italian mountains. Correct me if I’m wrong, but…can’t his reindeer fly? This is a tremendous stretch to attempt an endearing Christmas classic, and I believe I hate this song. Maybe I have heard this song before, and my brain just immediately blanked it out of my memory in an adorable attempt to prevent madness and insanity. But thanks to my need to look neat and tidy, I now have this song haunting my Yuletide nightmares.


Songs That Suck: “KOKOMO” (The Beach Boys)

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The Beach Boys
Elektra Records
[from the Cocktail Soundtrack]

Oh, yeah. I’m definitely going to be getting some angry responses from former junior high chums on this one. Among others, I’m sure. But, believe me when I say, I do this not to just troll any fan of this song, whoever you may be. I do this because I can’t even bring myself to pretend that “Kokomo” is even close to a good song any longer. I’ve remained quiet long enough.

Full Disclosure: While I’m not a fan of the Beach Boys, I grew up listening to them via my parents and school friends who loved them. I do enjoy a good Beach Boys song; I also have grown to really appreicate the genius that is Brian Wilson, and recognize that without his production skills and creativeness on the song “Good Vibrations” and the album Pet Sounds, we wouldn’t have the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Seriously, go look it up.

With that in mind, that is the exact reason why I consider “Kokomo” to be second-rate Jimmy Buffet fodder, rather than a throwback classic, as many others seem to think. Brian Wilson had not been part of the band for a number of years, and boy does it show here. It probably didn’t help that the only other thing that they were known for in the 80s was their collaboration with the Fat Boys on the song “Wipe Out”, and a later appearance on the TGIF-staple Full House sealed their fate as a washed-up nostalgia act. Meanwhile, we still have to endure “Kokomo” popping up randomly, necessitating much work to keep this from infecting the brain to mush.

Songs That Suck: “NOTHIN’S GONNA CHANGE MY LOVE FOR YOU” (Glenn Medeiros)

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nothins gonna change my love for you
Glenn Medeiros
[from Glenn Medeiros

Okay, so this is technically a cover song. The original version of “Nothin’s Gonna Change My Love For You” was done by R&B singer/guitarist George Benson back in 1985. However, I’m not familiar with that original version, or of Mr. Benson’s work; it is the Glenn Medeiros version that I keep hearing in the most inopportune places, and that’s why I’ve included this as a Song That very much Sucks.

And before you ask, yes I am aware of the Nick Carter version. But, I neither have heard that version, nor care about that one. Or Nick Carter’s music. But, I digress.

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”: I was on the school bus, on the 45-minute ride back home. The radio on the bus was tuned to the popular Top 40 station, and this song came on. Even at the tender age of 13, when my music tastes were still more or less dictated by what’s on heavy rotation on the radio, this song was just horrible. I’d heard my fair share of Adult Contemporary pop before, but my reaction had never been this kind of vehement. It was beyond sappy. It sounded like the kind of song a teenager would sing at the Congregational Church for his grandmother.

And that was kind of close to the truth. The guy who did this cover version, Glenn Medeiros, was 16 when he recorded the song after winning a local radio talent contest in Hawaii.It was one of those small, locally released on an independent label kind of things, like the kind you do at a karaoke booth to give out to your friends and family. But, because a visiting radio exec from Phoenix, Arizona happened to hear the song on the local radio there, the single made it’s way back to the mainland and went national. Thanks, guy.

But, you know what’s worse than listening to this AC dreck? Watching the accompanying video that was made. It’s essentially Medeiros walking around on a beach, with a girl in a pink dress. The same kind of visuals used for herpes medication advertisements during daytime television.

The thing is, as dry heave-inducing as this song is, it won’t seem to go away. Just like herpes, it seems to pop up in the most unusual and inopportune times, usually when shopping at a department store, or sitting in a hospital waiting room, or having come on whatever soap opera is playing when visiting Grandma and she’s watching her stories. And each time I want to run away screaming.


Songs That Suck: “PINK” (Aerosmith)

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aerosmith - pink
Columbia Records
(from the album Nine Lives)

Bit of a Rock N’ Roll History Fun Fact: In 1977, the band Aerosmith decided against renting the same Convair CV-240 airplane that eventually crashed and killed members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Aerosmith had concerns about the safty of the plane, and also questioned the seriousness of the plane’s crew, who seemed to be more of the partying type than serious pilots. Keep in mind, this is 70s-era Aerosmith, where the singer Steve Tyler and the guitarist Joe Perry were refereed to as the Toxic Twins. When 70s Aerosmith thinks you’re partying too hard…well, you get the idea.

The point of that is, since they survived to play another day, we never would have to ask, “What could have been?” like we do with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and others who died at the prime of their musical careers. With Aerosmith, we don’t have to. We know exactly what happened: “Pink” happened.

Released about a year before the release of the Ultimate Aerosmith Ballad You Can’t Get Away From that was on the Armageddon soundtrack (you know the one), “Pink” gets the Songs That Suck listing for one reason above all the others: This is a song about Steven Tyler’s love of vaginas.

Yes, you could argue that, this is Aerosmith. What else are they going to be singing about? Well, sure…except that this is late 90s Aerosmith we’re talking about, here. Not only were their pop relevance waning again (the last resurgence happened because of Run-D.M.C.), but at their age at the time, singing songs like this made them more creepy late middle-aged dirty old man creepy, rather than bad boys of rock n’ roll cool.

Also, this is a ballad. Nope.