The Abominable “O Holy Night”Music — By Jordan Green on November 1, 2006 at 12:00 am
(UPDATE: In November, 2007, one year after this article was posted, Burnside was contacted by a man claiming he performed this song. We conducted an interview. And now you know, the rest of the story.)
I’ve been waiting much of the year for this.
It’s the day after Halloween, the day when giant bags of candy drop to 50% off, cottonball snow starts falling in your local supermarkets and creepy Santas start trimming their beards for department store appearances. Oh, the commerciality of it all…
Okay, so it’s still early yet. We should probably wait until after Thanksgiving to truly mark the beginning of the Christmas season, but we all know Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are locked and loaded for this year’s War on Christmas, so we thought we’d get in on the action, too.
Truth be told, I’ve just been waiting so long to unleash this on you, our dear readers, and I can’t wait another day.
Last year, I was exposed to some pretty funny things: MarriedtotheSea.com, the sports world of DeadSpin.com, the final season of “Arrested Development,” the rise of “The (American) Office,” the writings of Chad Gibbs and Aaron Donley on this site…the list could go on and on. But the funniest thing I experienced this year was a stunning rendition of what is arguably the most beautiful Christmas carol ever written, “O Holy Night.” Feel free to experience it by pressing play below and prepare to be amazed.
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I was exposed to the abomination through Steve at TheSneeze.com, one of my favorite blogs. The story behind the rendition is a mystery, but one of Steve’s readers sent in what he’d heard about its origins. You can read about it here.
Some folks I talked to out of Nashville, folks “in the biz” as they say, claim this version was an audition tape for some of the record labels in town. The hidden identity of the singer actually makes the clip all the more awesome. Who’s to say whether the singing is intentional or honest? His identity is best kept secret, but it’s nice to think he’s out there, reveling in his forgotten fame, humming along like GOB and Franklin in a laundromat.
Arguments on the song’s sincerity are tough to pin down, but there are three distinct possibilities as to its origins.
The song is an intentional joke and the singer is actually very good.
I don’t buy this one. The cracks and key misses would be difficult for an adept singer to pull off.
The song is an intentional joke, but the singer is genuinely awful.
Believing the song is fake seems to be the approach of realists who also aren’t very funny. This is just an observation, and I’m not judging them. It’s just that they aren’t very funny. The intentionality is a very real possibility, but not nearly as fun as believing…
The song is an actual audition tape, and the singer is delusional.
This is what I want to think, but one factor keeps me guessing: if the end result is unintentional, it is almost too perfect. The song gets funnier and more absurd with each passing second, up until the singer pauses for breath on a particularly long note in the song’s waning moments. The horrifying precision of “O Holy Night” is both a testament to the fact that it must be sincere and its sole detracting fact.
One thing remains true, whether the song is intentional or not: if the origins of this version are based in the Church, it may be the most glorious three minutes and thirty-nine seconds of comedy the American church has ever produced.
I might be wrong, and that’s why we want to hear your feedback on the best instance of comedy (intentional or otherwise) within the realm of Christianity. Also, if you have any light to shed on our mysterious caroler, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A link to this article (and, subsequently, the song) will appear in our “Links of the Moment” on the site’s main page from now until Christmas.
“You know it was…divine night.”