The Abominable “O Holy Night”

Music — By on November 1, 2006 at 12:00 am

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(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.

Get the Flash Player to listen to this audio player..

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 reviews@burnsidewriterscollective.com. 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.”

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    60 Comments

  • Abby says:

    HORRIBLE CRAP

  • Hi -
    I’ve had this song posted on my blog at http://www.fredmckinnon.com. It’s been funny because somehow, last year – a radio station in CA played it in a contest and attributed it to me!
    Anyway – I was contacted by the mysterious “real singer” last night, and will do an interview today – I’m posting the updates on my blog. I cannot believe the real singer is finally coming forth to tell his story.
    Fred

  • Tami Anderson says:

    I think this is someone really trying and believing he can sing. May God Bless him for his courage

  • Jordan -
    The story is now online, along with a 1-hour phone interview with the “real” singer:
    http://www.fredmckinnon.com/myblog/category/o-holy-night-saga/
    Enjoy!
    FRED

  • Susan says:

    At our Thanksgiving dinner last night, my sister & brother-in-law told us about this song. They’d actually eaten Thanksgiving lunch with his side of the family, which actually included “Steve M.” – a cousin. They told me the story (which is identical to the interview he gave on this website), and told me to “google” the song when I got home. I just listened to it, and it was as funny as I thought it would be. Steve (and the whole “M.” family) is incredibly talented, and many of them are really big in the music ministry. Their dad & uncles were a very popular quartet in their day. It’s fun to know that I have that connection to a funny song that is so popular on the internet! Six degrees? Nope – in this case for me – only one! Wow! (I feel famous myself…. LOL!)

  • TITO GONZALEZ says:

    FELIX I KNOW ITS YOU. TITO G

  • Kalie says:

    why is it so hard to find this song to download? is there an easier way that I just don’t know about? please someone help me. i can’t find it on limewire…

  • Lindsay Brown says:

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! This song made me burst out laughing almost in tears when i first heard it!!! I can’t really tell if he can sing or not it is just really funny!!!!

  • maria says:

    BRUTAL…perfect precusor to the next American Idol try outs. Sounds a bit like my dad in church…lol :)

  • costas says:

    I think this guy auditioned for my band ;-) He sucked back then too.
    God Awful, makes you wanna consider Atheism.

  • Benjamin says:

    I found this recording absurd, hurtful, and down-right hilarious. Absurd because the guy thinks he can sing, hurtful because I rolled off the couch and into the coffee table, and, well, the third needs to explanation. Props to the singer of this great holiday song.

  • Tomara :-) says:

    Oh my goodness…I am crying…my face hurts…my stomache hurts…I think I just pee-d on myself for the first time in 25 years…NO ONE in the office can function like an adult right now we are all rolling on the floor and falling out of our chairs!! We have listened to it for the past half hour and just can’t stop. Oh heavens me…this is the best ever – THANK YOU.

  • Susan says:

    That surely has to be a joke. Thats the worst singing ever. My ears are bleeding.

  • Carole Agee says:

    I know the identity of the singer. It is a well know Contemporary Christian recording artist. He was in the studio recording and started goofing around. Someone decided to lay it down on tape. They weren�t� suppose to let it out of the studio but thankfully they did!

  • Hal says:

    Oh My God, My teeth hurt from that. I put the MP3 on my psp and played it to people at my school. they writhed in pain. Has this man been shot yet?

  • Bob Boles says:

    This should be destroyed and never allowed to be played!

  • Hunter says:

    The reason why I like this so much, is because it sounds like something I would do. I myself am a vocalist, and sometimes I like to just mess around with my break between my chest and falsetto voice and make ridiculous noises. So, I can understand how this man, who some have determined can actually sing, would find joy in sounding like a vocally impaired fool. Even though this is slightly disrespectful in the sense that the song is about Jesus Christ, you can’t help but laugh histerically at the sound of it!!!
    Hunter

  • Brad says:

    Not regarding this song, but your request for “feedback on the best instance of comedy (intentional or otherwise) within the realm of Christianity.”
    I found this book on the clearance rack at my local Christian bookstore recently. For some unfathomable reason, I didn’t buy it immediately, and by the time I went back, it was gone:
    From This Day Forward: Making Your Vows Last a Lifetime
    by Ted Haggard (Author), Gayle Haggard (Author)

  • Eric Jones says:

    I know the person who sang this. He genuinely thought he could sing; his father, in an attempt to prove to his son that he couldn’t sing at all, had his son sing a recording of it. When it was played back for him, that’s when he finally accepted that he couldn’t sing.
    He got voice lessons, and now, he can sing pretty well.
    I live in Southeastern Wisconsin, and last time I caught up with the guy, he was playing at a local non-denominational church.
    So, there you have it. The actual story.

  • John says:

    In 2003 two radio DJ`s in Sacramento
    Ca. played this on there the morning
    show they stated it came from a catholic priest who sang this for his
    congragation on christmas eve that
    year they played it just a couple of
    days after christmas. They said he
    thought he was doing a good job
    no one had the heart to tell him other wise.

  • When I was in college and living in the dorms, we played this so often and so loud we got a noise complaint. We would laugh so hard we would literally roll on the floor laughing.

  • Ernestine Martin says:

    A beautiful Christmas song to be sure. This rendition reminded me of a song on a Gaithers video done by a deaf woman, Sue someone, who had a Mother that loved music and she used to sing to Sue with Sue’s hand on her throat. Sue learned to sing from the vibrations, not the actual sound. I listened to this and found a tear as he “fell on his knees”. Something inside me said he was for real and this was the best he could do. God forgive us for not being grateful for what “we” can do and poke fun at others who try.

  • Laura Zenthoefer says:

    What’s this guy’s name?

  • Jim Nail says:

    At our church we had a guy ask if he could sing Amazing Grace as a solo, story being that he heard Elvis sing it as a child and it had been his favorite gospel song ever since. Well, the Sunday came and he stood there and did the most awful Elvis impersonation you can imagine. The poor Music Minister sat there in shocked silence. The youth tried to hide their laughter by ducking behind the pews, and a rotund deacon sat there quivering like a bowl of jello. The guy singing was oblivious to the whole thing and doesn’t know to this day how he looked.

  • Craig says:

    HOAX ! Its too out there to be faked. He takes himself seriously at first, slipping off key and then totally blows out his voice, I’m a pro singer and he’s a comedian.

  • dofawally says:

    Instead of calling it ‘gay marriage’ why not call it ‘gay mariage’ spelled and pronounced the way French people spell and pronounce it (like mah-ree-azh but with a funny r). On our way we briefly visited the Bhuvangiri fort. Our young and stylish star Siddharth did a hindi movie called Rang De Basanti two years back along with Aamir Khan and Madhavan. Thank you to my friends for your invitation to share the happy day with you. I used a good combination of different stamps here and watercolour pencils.

  • jessica pierce says:

    wow…. this is sheer proof that GOD has a sense of humor…

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