An Hour in Sunny 99.1's Holiday Hell

Band Aid: Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Most people I know hate Sunny 99.1, but not me. And I should really hate it. Any radio station supported by the American Dental Association has to suck. But every time I listen to it, I either hear something so corny and half-baked that I can't turn back to the Ipod. It's like pouring liquid Valium in my ears.

I don't have to worry about hearing the same Nirvana song I've heard for the past fourteen years, like on the Buzz. Nor do I get to hear every interchangeable young foxy blonde country girl singing about getting screwed over by a frat boy, like on every pop station in town. It's like a palette cleanser - aural ginger, like at a sushi bar.

Every year, Sunny starts playing non-stop, 24/7 Christmas tunes by the end of November. You can pretty much bet that by the time you hop in the car after Thanksgiving dinner that Perry Como will be riding shotgun with you up to the gas station for smokes until the after Christmas. I just spent an hour at my desk, listening to Sunny 99.1.

Here's what we got.

The first thing out of the gate is Percy Faith's "Carol Of the Bells", which doesn't sound so much like a holiday song, but more like Darth Vader's theme song from Star Wars. I never saw how ominous depressing tones worked with toys and Santa Claus.

"Where Are You, Christmas" is by Faith Hill, and was originally recorded for the live-action How The Grinch Stole Christmas Jim Carrey disasterpiece. Where did Christmas go, Faith? It's probably hiding under hubby Tim McGraw's cowboy hat, along with his wicked balding horseshoe.

Hill really belts this one out, as do most singers on Christmas tunes. I always imagine that somewhere in California there is a huge secret multi-tiered studio where they pump in massive amounts of pure oxygen to churn out just Christmas songs all damn year. I imagine most of these songs are recorded over the summer anyway in between spa visits and photo shoots.

Then there's Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas," which always amused me since Christmas means nothing to a good portion of the world's population that isn't Christian. The sentiment is honorable, but can you imagine a hungry child watching something like the circa-1984 Boy George singing in their face, dripping sparkles and foundation on them?

"Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano reminds me of my Grandpa Gonzalez trying to teach me what all the words meant in English. Feliciano quite honestly reminds me of my grandpa, except for the whole "being blind" thing.

When Wham was in the studio recording "Last Christmas," do you think George Michael purposely was trying to sound like Marilyn Monroe? On what must be my 80th listen now, I now find this song seasonally inappropriate and mildly arousing.

"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," is a tune about a prime sonofabitch who doesn't take any of this holiday guff. You have to admire his prickishness in the face of such a joyous season. The Grinch would've probably kicked over the Salvation Army donation buckets and bought a pack of Pabst with what fell out.

I didn't realize that the Beach Boys did a whole album of Christmas tunes. But when I hear something like "Frosty the Snowman", I just see their dad Murry Wilson pounding back a few scotch and waters at the control boards wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and festive Santa hat, calling poor Brian fat.

The Jackson 5's "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" makes me mourn for little Michael. He was really belting this sucker out. If only he had continued belting tunes out like a miniature Otis Redding and not, well you know.....the '80s and '90s, blah blah. - Craig Hlavaty

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray