December 17th, 2011
Todd plays "Mistletoe" on his piano.
JUSTIN BIEBER - MISTLETOE
A Christmas song review
Todd: Ah, it's Christmastime. You know, it's my job to beat down overplayed songs, and no songs are more overplayed than the entire genre of Christmas music.
- Video for Michael Bublé - "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"
- Michael: You better watch out...
Todd (VO): No genre is more stagnant, more overdone, more stranglingly oppressive. When you're a kid, "Jingle Bells" might be fun and wonderful, but by the time you become an adult, you'll have heard every Christmas song so many times that even the name [album cover of Christmas Celebration by...] Mannheim Steamroller should get your skin crawling. [Video for Mariah Carey - "All I Want for Christmas Is You"] And what's worse is that there's nothing new to replace it. Except for Mariah's "All I Want for Christmas Is You", there hasn't been a new song to worm its way into the Christmas classics canon in the past 25 years. We desperately need some new songs. But we're gonna fix that.
Todd: And so I present to you the man who is gonna bring this tired, moribund genre back to life. [Clears his throat, then reaches down and takes a drink of water. Now ready, he says in the same demonic way in his "Eenie Meenie" review...] Biiiiieeeeebbbbbeeeeerrrr...
- Video for "Eenie Meenie"
- Justin: Shawty is a...
Todd (VO): We last checked in with Justin Bieber over a year-and-a-half ago, and even at that distant date, he was already the poster child for all that was bad in popular music, [Picture of shirts reading, "Fuck Justin Bieber"] as well as the scapegoat for everything that had gone wrong in America in the past four years, [picture of donation box reading, "Every $ kills a Justin Bieber fan"] and possibly also history's greatest monster. [Video for "Somebody to Love"] Anti-Bieber hysteria was at a level not seen since the Red Scare. [Pictures of Anti-Bieber propoganda] Poorly-spelled insults toward the kid flooded the Internet. The backlash had become a phenomenon far worse than Bieber himself could ever be.
Todd: That was the peak in the tide of Bieber hatred, which has since been on the downward slide, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing because I remember this same thing happening during the [picture of Backstreet Boys] boy-band wars of the late 90s, and trust me, there were no winners in that conflict. Whether you (omg nick is so hott!!!1) liked them, or whether you (n sync sux there totally gay!) hated them, you were probably an idiot. So I'm happy to see this kind of thing dial back. It got very old very quick. [Takes a breath] But...
- Video for "One Time"
Todd (VO): I completely understand where the hatred is coming from. Justin Bieber is quite possibly the least likable, most uncharismatic performer to get popular since the heyday of [picture of...] Vanilla Ice. [Video for "One Less Lonely Girl"] I despised this little shit well before any of you did, and I'll likely do it long after he's been forgotten.
- "Eenie Meenie"
- Justin: Let me show you what you're missin--paradise
Todd (VO): I'm sure it's not entirely his fault, and it's hard to tell his managers that they're doing something wrong when they're clearly selling a lot of records, but I still do not understand the decision to give this poor kid these songs where he has to act like he thinks he's hot shit, when he clearly can't back it up.
Todd: That's basically all it boils down to—Bieber's balls haven't dropped. Which is why he's so eminently hateable when he's trying to project confidence, and it's also why "Baby"...
- Justin: Baby, baby...
Todd (VO): ...is both his best and his best-known song—because it puts him in a vulnerable position instead of treating him like he's this hot, young stud.
- Justin: You know you love me
Todd (VO): Although he's still pushing it.
Todd: There's just no getting around the fact that he sounds like a kid. Like, not even a teenager, a child singing about love and other topics, which... I mean, his songs aren't exactly sophisticated or adult by any stretch, but they're still about things that sound well beyond his reach. The kid has the sexual charisma of a [picture of...] Tickle-Me-Elmo.
- Video for "U Smile"
Todd (VO): *sigh* Still, he has done the world a favor and largely not troubled me or any of his other haters since the last time I reviewed him. It's like after the hysteria died down, Bieber and the world made this agreement that he's gonna do his thing, and the rest of the world can do theirs, because I've barely heard a thing from him since then.
Todd: Despite having as many fans as he ever did and being one of the best-selling music acts around, he's been surprisingly easy to avoid, making his one-off Christmas single [single cover of...] "Mistletoe", which reached #11 for a week in November, qualify as one of his biggest-ever hits. Now, my policy is to avoid Christmas music if possible, so I certainly didn't plan on dealing with this. But I started to actually get interested in Bieber's Christmas album after I stumbled across his rendition of "Little Drummer Boy".
- Performance at Christmas at Rockefeller Center
Todd (VO): Now keep in mind that "Little Drummer Boy" is quite possibly the dreariest, most unmodernizable Christmas song of all time—"Twelve Days of Christmas" excepted—and I wasn't expecting much.
Todd: But I was actually really impressed. Not because of Bieber, but because it features...
Todd (VO): ...Busta Rhymes. Busta Rhymes, of all people.
Todd: And he gets on the mic and he busts some rhymes!
- Busta: Even though it’s kinda cold, pullin out a chinchilla,
- Bieber hit me back and said, “Let’s make it hot up in the winter.”
- I said, “Cool.”
- Before we work I gotta get this off,
- See the other family members and drop gifts off,
- Then I’m headed to the studio cause aint nothing stopping,
- How you know we about to turn it up and really get it poppin’ now
Todd: Well, hell, I might have to give this a chance. Of course, Bieber's performance is awful because, surprise, trying to inject soul into "pa-rum-pa-pum-pum" makes you sound like a dipshit. But I did happen to notice one very encouraging thing about Bieber's performance.
- Justin: Little baby, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum
- I am a poor boy too, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum
Todd: Bieber's voice is finally changing! [Choir sings "Hallelujah" throughout] Praise baby Jesus, it's a Christmas miracle! No longer will I have to hear intense love songs performed in Bieber's vomit-inducing castrato. It won't solve all my problems with the little bastard, but you know what? It's a good freaking start.
Todd (VO): So you know what? This might at least be something worth seeking out. Now Bieber's new song is called "Mistletoe" and who knows? It could turn out to be listenable.
Todd: Or it could turn out to be some God-awful preteen Kidz Bop crap like he always sings. "Hope for the best, expect the worst," I always say. Let's give it a listen.
- Video for "Mistletoe"
- Justin: It’s the most beautiful time of the year
- Lights fill the streets spreading so much cheer
- I should be playing in the winter snow
- But I'mma be under the mistletoe
- I don’t wanna miss out on the holiday
- But I can’t stop staring at your face
- I should be playing in the winter snow
- But I’mma be under the mistletoe
Todd: This is a "white guy with acoustic guitar" song. THIS IS A "WHITE GUY WITH ACOUSTIC GUITAR" SONG!!!
Todd (VO): Justin Bieber, Justin freaking Bieber, world's whitest of white boys, doing an acoustic guitar song!
Todd: Oh, thank you, Bieber! Two of my least-favorite things in music combined! Looks like I got my Christmas present early!
- Justin: With you, shawty with you
Todd (VO): Oh, my God. This was a possibility I was not prepared for.
- Justin: With you under the mistletoe
Todd (VO): What the hell is this? This...
Todd: This is just Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours".
- Clip of "I'm Yours"
- Jason Mraz: Well you've done done me and you bet I felt it
Todd: Justin Bieber made a Christmas song that rips off one of the worst songs of the last ten years. It's even got the same freaking chords!
- Intercut between the two songs
- Jason: Love love love
- Justin: Under the mistletoe
Todd: Oh my. Our young Bieber is growing up...into a bro. I weep for this child's future.
- Justin: I should be chilling with my folks, I know
- But I’mma be under the mistletoe
Todd (VO): This is...this is really kinda gross.
Todd: Okay, in it, Bieber appears to be singing about the Christmas things that he's not going to do because he's going to be under the mistletoe with...[turns away and gags]
Todd (VO): Well, give Bieber this—he knows his audience. Even [Clip of *NSYNC - "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"] *NSYNC wasn't this shameless with their Christmas single—they were just, like, "Christmas, yay!" They just liked Christmas. Bieber, meanwhile, takes the holiday and uses it as an excuse to sell kissy-kiss fantasies to his girly-girl fanbase. This is not really a Christmas song, it's a love song awkwardly filled with clumsy Christmas references.
Todd: And yeah, I know there are plenty of songs about being in love on Christmas. But [respective clips of Mariah Carey's, Elvis's, and U2's...] "All I Want for Christmas Is You", "Blue Christmas", "Please Come Home for Christmas"? These are all about the sense of belonging and togetherness that Christmas is supposed to be about. "Mistletoe", on the other hand, is about [picture of Bieber puckering up] making out with Justin Bieber. And if you don't wanna make out with Justin Bieber, this song has absolutely nothing for you.
- Justin: Shawty with you
- With you, shawty with you
Todd: I guess this goes out to all the Christmas shawties out there.
Todd (VO): I think the entire anti-Bieber movement can be traced back to his use of that one awful word.
- Justin: Shawty with you
Todd (VO): No matter how old he gets, he'll still always be far too white and too Canadian to use that word properly, not that I'm sure that there's a good way to use it.
Todd: But more than that, I never wanted to hear the word used in the context of Christmas. [On one hand] Christmas...
- Video of Nat King Cole - "The Christmas Song"
- Nat King Cole: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Todd: [on the other hand] Shawty.
- Video for Lonely Island ft. T-Pain - "I'm on a Boat"
- T-Pain: Shawty, shawty
Todd: [one hand] Christmas...
- Clip from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Snowman (Burl Ives): Have a holly, jolly Christmas
- It's the best time of the year
Todd: [other hand] Shawty.
- Clip of Lloyd - "Get It Shawty"
- Lloyd: Get it shawty, get it shawty, get it shawty
Todd: No, they don't match.
- Justin: Word on the street Santa's coming tonight,
- Reindeer's flying through the sky so high
- I should be making a list, I know
Todd (VO): Okay, goddamn it, how old is the narrator of this song supposed to be? This is, like, the first Bieber song I've ever heard that attempts to deal with the unavoidable fact that he sounds like a first-grader.
Todd: But I'm not sure that was a better plan than just ignoring it. Like, is it a good thing that we're constantly reminded he should be out writing to Santa and other age-appropriate things?
Todd (VO): You know what? Maybe it's just me, but when he talks about the Christmassy things he won't be doing when he's busy getting to first base, doesn't he seem, honestly, kinda sad that he's not getting to do all these things?
- Justin: I should be playing in the winter snow
Todd (VO): I mean, he's trying to sound excited about being with this girl, but he just sounds resigned, like he got dragged to Grandma's for the holidays.
Todd: [pouting] Should be out playing in the show. Fricking girlfriend makin' me go kiss her.
- Justin: I should be chilling with my folks, I know
Todd (VO): Yeah, you should. You should be doing all those things. And now that I'm thinking about it, you should also be singing about these things, Bieber!
Todd: I...I...I get that mistletoe and love are important parts of Christmas, but this just doesn't sound Christmassy in any way. It's like he wrote a Christmas song about how he failed to make a Christmas song.
- Justin: The wise men followed a star
- The way I followed my heart
Todd (VO): Wow, we are stretching the Christmas theme as hard as we possibly can.
Todd: No, no, no, no, just an experiment. Let's stretch it even harder. Your kiss makes me feel alive, just like [picture of...] Frosty the Snowman came alive when we put on his magical hat. This is awful.
- Justin: Everyone's gathering around the fire
- Chestnuts roasting like a hot July
Todd: Yes, no imagery more thoroughly conveys the atmosphere of the holiday season like the words, [picture of three people on a beach] "hot July."
Todd (VO): Hell, I don't even have to bring up that one line of bad writing. The problem permeates the entire freaking song. I mean, yeah, I hear the sleigh bells jingling in the background, but otherwise musically, this completely fails to communicate the idea of winter.
Todd: Christmas songs are supposed to have a certain sound to them, right?
- Clip of Johnny Mathis
- Johnny Mathis: It's the most wonderful time of the year
Todd: Yeah, like that. But "Mistletoe" just does not sound right.
Todd (VO): Who the hell associates this kind of fratty white reggae with the holidays? The only Christmas song I can think of that sounds like that is [picture of title over brief clip of...] "Mele Kalikimaka", and that's about Christmas in Hawaii. And judging by the video, I don't think that's what they were going for.
Todd: Seriously, you can't just throw some bells on a song and call it a Christmas carol! [Brief clip of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince - "Summertime" with sleigh bells over it] But of course it had to sound like a [clip of "You and Your Heart" by...] Jack Johnson-type bro ballad because that's the most droolingly simple of all possible musical genres. After all, recording something that actually sounded like anything else would've taken time and effort, and if they had any of that to expend, they wouldn't be making a Christmas album.
- Brief clip of Scott Weiland - "Winter Wonderland"
Todd (VO): I mean, Christmas albums, with rare exceptions, are quickie cash-ins designed to restock bank accounts and fulfill contractual obligations. But this? This goes the extra mile to sound cheap and thoughtless.
Todd: This blows.
Todd (VO): This just isn't about Christmas in any real way; it's about exploiting the underdeveloped dreams of hormonal tween girls. That's not what Christmas is about. Christmas is about family, it's about togetherness.
Todd: It's about giving. It's about peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, goddamn it! Sorry.
Todd (VO): If I had one wish this Christmas, it wouldn't be about anything like this.
Todd: It would be that we all get together and love one another, and enjoy the true spirit of Christmas. And most of all... [brief glimpse of Bieber] I would wish that Justin Bieber would wipe that stupid smirk off his face. I'm Todd In The Shadows saying God bless us everyone...except Justin Bieber. Good night.
Closing tag song: Jimmy Boyd - "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
"Mistletoe" is owned by Island Def Jam Records
This video is owned by me
Todd: Hey! I'm gonna be at MAGFest! MAGFest, MAGFest, MAGFest, MAGFest.
[Plays and sings to the tune of Petula Clark - "Downtown"]
When you're alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go...to MAGFest
If you got worries, you can do something nerdy
At MAGFest...at MAGFest
It'll be here...
Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD 20745
It'll be at this time.
Jan 5-8, 2012 (Thu-Sun)
[Arms outstretched] Be there. See me. Please. Thank you.