Everything is awful and it’s Christmas, when the free-floating anxieties of the year are only compounded by the forced merriment of the season and, especially, the empty cheer of Christmas music. With a few exceptions, most Christmas music is also terrible, an assemblage of saccharine, nostalgic platitudes crafted by mercenary songwriters for dead or dying pop stars to croon listlessly over jingling sleigh bells to score an easy radio hit—the narcotized AM sound of them long since rendered bitterly ironic through so many comic juxtapositions in movies and in real life, today most readily evoking families staring at each other in Xanaxed silence and the barely suppressed rage of aggravated mall shoppers. Not Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” of course. That one still rules. And not DMX’s “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” either. This can stay, too.
DMX first dropped his version of the old Johnny Marks/GeneAutry classic during a 2012 radio interview, the clip of which immediately went viral and became a staple of my personal Christmas playlist. I watch it every year, as a way of counteracting the six straight hours of Josh Groban’s “O Holy Night” I have to listen to at my mother-in-law’s.
Now the Ruff Ryder has stopped, dropped, shut ‘em down and opened up Santa’s Shop with his own, official version of “Rudolph” released today through Spotify. It’s a cover that stays faithful to the original, as well as to DMX, who laces the tale of the illest, lone wolf reindeer with his familiar barks, grunts, and deeply existential “Whaaat?!”s. It’s the only 90 seconds of Christmas music you need this year, and X gon’ give it to ya.
Merry Christmas, DMX. Merry Christmas, everyone. At least we have this.