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Monday, December 4, 2017

Take the 'Little Drummer Boy' Challenge This Year: Avoid That Terrible Song

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 6:02 AM

click to enlarge Sure, he looks cute. But he can only bring you pain. - PHOTO BY DAVE WILEY / FLICKR
Ah, the holidays approach once more, and with them, as always, comes the relentless and merciless assault on our collective eardrums known as Christmas music. Replete with sleigh bells and whip-cracks and some of the most vapid and useless lyrics ever written, the songs of the season stand as the most reasonable justification for a "War on Christmas" imaginable, if only said war wasn't entirely imaginary.

And in a genre overflowing with terrible songs, "Little Drummer Boy" is surely one of the worst offenders. This is a tune about a kid who is so stupid he thinks the ideal gift for a newborn baby is to bash on a snare drum in the poor child's ear. More than half of its lyrics would be classified as onomatopoeia if only "pa rum pum pum pum" sounded anything at all like a drum.

The remaining lyrics similarly fail to dazzle:
Come they told me
A newborn King to see
Our finest gifts we bring
To lay before the King
So to honor Him
When we come

Baby Jesus
I am a poor boy too
I have no gift to bring
That's fit to give a King 
Shall I play for you?
on my drum?

Mary nodded
The ox and lamb kept time
I played my drum for Him
I played my best for Him
Then He smiled at me
Me and my drum
That's it.

Basically, the grown-ups tell this kid about a baby they are excited to meet, but none of them is willing to write the poor kid's name on the card for any of their expensive presents, so the kid asks the baby's mom if it's cool for him to bash on a loud percussive instrument in lieu of a gift and for some unknown reason she's OK with it. Then the kid needs help from the damn livestock to keep time, which is ridiculous considering he's supposed to be a drummer. It's just sad all around.

The song is so wholly unacceptable, in fact, that an entire annual challenge has popped up to address it. The "Little Drummer Boy" Challenge is the brainchild of a Chicago man named Michael Alan Peck, and its rules are simple: As long as you have not heard "Little Drummer Boy," you are still in the game. Should the awful tune make its way to your ears — be it on the radio or on television or in a store or by a band performing live — you are out.

(That said, there is an exception made for those who are maliciously tricked by another into hearing the song — in that case, the trickee is safe, but the tricker is out.)

The challenge first came about in 2010 among Peck and his friends; it wasn't until 2014 that it really picked up steam and went viral, even garnering coverage from the likes of Time Magazine. Now the game even has its own website, complete with an "official reporting form" by which players can mark the exact date and time they were knocked out. It has also become customary for players to upload unhappy selfies to the challenge's Facebook page at the place and time of their demise.

"But what do I get if I win?" you may be asking yourself. Simple: You get to make it through an entire holiday season without hearing one of the worst songs ever written. Would that we could all be so lucky.

The challenge runs from midnight on Black Friday until midnight on Christmas Eve, meaning we are currently in the thick of it. If you've already made it this far, press on, but beware: The Boy is everywhere — over the loudspeakers at Target, through the airwaves on 102.5 FM, in the middle of Reindeer Games, in that one episode of The Office. Nowhere is safe.

In short, Merry Christmas — and stay vigilant. The Boy is coming for you.

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