Black Christmas

A St. Louis band is up on the rooftop with Bad Santa

Bad Santa is badass. If you haven't seen it, go: Billy Bob Thornton is fantastic as a drunk, cruel store Santa with a heart of slime, taking the piss out of Christmas (and putting it in his own pants) for everyone who hates the season, hates the materialism or just doesn't feel good because they loved a woman who wasn't clean.

And when you go see it, stick around when the movie ends. Read the credits. Give a silent thanks to the Key Grip for all his key gripping. Keep waiting. Then you'll hear it. Something sweet, something a little crazy, something...familiar.

Well, it's Bunnygrunt, of course. Everyone's favorite disbanded local twee-poppers caught the ear of director Terry Zwigoff when their 1996 song "Season Freaklings" was given to him on a mixed tape several years ago. According to 'grunt (and occasional RFT music writer) Matt Harnish, Zwigoff kept the song in his mind, and when he just happened to be directing a slightly deranged Christmas movie, he knew he had to use it somewhere.

Well, Bad Santa's been out for a couple of weeks now, so this is kind of old news, don't you think? Au contraire. To capitalize on their newfound fame among fans of black comedy who stick around for closing credits (and to the delight of their already established rabid fan base), Bunnygrunt is playing a rare reunion show this week with the likewise temporarily re-formed El Gordo's Revenge and the normally formed Tone Rodent. Along with Harnish, who's bounced around in some pretty great local bands like Sullen and Julia Sets, Bunnygrunt brings back another former member, Karen Reid, who went on to the Noble Gases, the Fantasy Four and (with Harnish) the see-thrus. Rounding out the trio is new bassist Lauren Trull.

The show is Thursday, December 18, and you wouldn't have remembered that if I'd told you when the movie came out. The bands will probably be pimping A Very Bert Dax Christmas, Volume 2, on which they all appear, so there's no need for me to do that. At this point in December I'm pretty much kicking candy cane-bearing children, so please, let's not talk about Christmas music.

Speaking of Christmas music (damn it all), the wait is over: We've got a winner to the "name the Mall's format" contest. To refresh, while the Mall (104.1 FM) blares on in Christmas Music Limbo until the end of the year, we're picking out the new format for giant conglomerate Emmis Communications.

It took a while to read through the 5,738 entries we received (okay, 20), but we've got a winner in O'Fallon's Eric Ward, who wants to change KMLL from the Mall to the Mullet: "The call letters would not need to be changed," Eric notes. "The music would be classic '80s hair rock and '70s classic rock."

But isn't that KSHE?

"Not so, my friend. KSHE used to be this way, but no longer so. KSHE has been reduced to playing Nickelback, Puddle of Mudd, and other nu-metal, post-grunge rock & roll with an occasional Pink Floyd or Jethro Tull to keep up the promise of real rock."

Eric's getting a mixed CD from me and we're mailing this column to Emmis, where they'll probably slap themselves on the forehead and then give Eric a big, fat corporate paycheck.

Most entries -- some of which read more like pitches for a job at Emmis -- pitched a dance/pop mix to take on Z107.7. Maybe this is the smart move. It's probably what Emmis will choose to do. But as a nonprofessional who scans the dial frequently, it sounds like a bummer to me. While I'm sure there are complex demographic subtleties that escape me, Z107.7 sounds like a poorer version of one of the hip-hop stations with a kind of "Caucasians' Worst Songs" mix thrown in. Much as in the world of cable television, where multiplying channels somehow brings less variety of programming (three dozen stations playing Law & Order at once), homogenization is the order of the day in radio.

It's certainly ridiculous to expect a station targeted squarely at yourself, but as we all get shuffled from one demo to another, it makes the real variety of satellite radio look more and more appealing. With all the locality being squeezed out and mostly crappy music on the radio, there's not much reason to move to the right of "91" on the dial.

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