|Finding costumes to enable this scenario to play out...|
And that is why I've chosen the middle of spring to write about America's most beloved holiday singalong, the New Kids On the Block classic "Funky Funky Christmas."
There's no denying the runaway success of the New Kids on the Block when they hit the scene during the transitional period from the 80s to the 90s. Anyone who was a teen or on the cusp of it at that point was a fan; if they tell you otherwise, they are a liar.
|Or Nick Carter.|
|Pictured: the just-leaked cover to "NKOTB XXXIX - The Legend of Curly's Gold."|
|At least two of the shirts on this album cover qualify as hate crimes.|
Everyone had a favorite New Kid, and myriad reasons to support their decision. The decibel level at which you were given these talking points varied wildly depending on the gender of the kid you asked, and how receptive they were to the strange tingling sensation of awakening they couldn't begin to put words to just yet.
|Which I now cannot caption, because I don't want to go to prison.|
Most of the girls I knew favored Jordan Knight, the co-frontman of the group and who at the time sported a hairdo I'm reasonably sure wasn't scientifically possible. Donald Trump's coif looks more reasonable and defensible than what Jordan walked around wearing at the dawn of the 90s. Look at those photos of him now and you'd be forgiven for assuming that a pile of burning tires had exploded between him and the photographer just as the photo was taken.
|Did... a pastry just fall on his head?|
|Pictured: Jon Knight preparing for a concert in Cedar Rapids, 1989.|
|Sometimes I go searching Google for an image, and the universe does me a wonderful, hilarious favor and writes the whole joke for me.|
|The hat was just pragmatic, standing so near the base of Jordan Knight's hair as he was.|
Invariably Donnie would be the one wearing a bandana or a skull-and-crossbones on his jacket, or both, in a misguided attempt to convince us that he was the dangerous outlier of the group, the real hardscrabble New Kid you wouldn't actually want to run into on The Block, or at the very least that he wasn't careful enough when signing the contracts and actually thought he was joining Guns N' Roses or Public Enemy.
|"Okay, guys, say cheese!... eh, close enough."|
When the group gathered for photo shoots, and the other guys said "The image we're going for is Fun Loving Young Guys, Dressed For A Night On The Town!", and Jordan showed up as The Hillbilly Neighbor You're Pretty Sure Is Making Bathtub Meth just to thumb his nose at convention, Donnie Wahlberg had to take even greater strides to assert himself as the nonconformist of the group.
|By showing up as Dr. Ruth Westheimer.|
|Armor we wore with misguided pride, in my circle of friends.|
|I laughed for a solid minute when I stumbled across this. Then I cried for forty more.|
No photographer arranging a Halloween-themed photo shoot involving the New Kids on the Block would have kept his or her job beyond nightfall had they gone with any other costume for Danny than "Frankenstein's Monster." You wouldn't even need makeup, just some glue and a couple of carriage bolts.
|"It's alive (and mostly just talking on tracks because he's got a very limited vocal range)! ALIVE (AND MOSTLY JUST TALKING ON TRACKS BECAUSE HE'S GOT A VERY LIMITED VOCAL RANGE)!!!!"|
|"Nice to meet you. I'm coursing with testosterone in a way that will RUIN your handwriting for the next hour."|
|Also, a tour de force performance by Donnie's hat and pout.|
|Donnie's hat soldiered on even after Donnie's pout left the band, citing creative differences.|
To which Santa has perhaps his worst idea of all time and replies, "So let's have a funky Christmas!"
|Damn you, Kringle. This day was supposed to be special. Now it's all funked up.|
|Did we identify ourselves? Did we identify the season? Did we show indisputable street cred? Did Danny drown a little girl in a lake while attempting to play with her because he doesn't know his own strength?|
|Ready for a funky, funky Christmas.|
Possibly annoyed and assumedly following his scooping all of the surprise-shit out of his pants, Donnie forgoes the "everyone gets his own moment" theme and lumps the last two together, with a quick "Jordan and Jon?" To their credit, Jordan and Jon know they can only disappoint after Joey's bizarre screaming, and instead each simply blurts out a quick "Yeah!" and "Come on!" to move things along.
I should note at this point that the chorus is forever. It is eternity. The New Kids are so enamored of it that they repeat it a dozen times in the four minute song, even though each repetition seems to take at least ten minutes. All it is is the New Kids repeatedly sing-talking the phrase "Have a funky funky Christmas" over a ridiculously stripped down accompaniment which sounds like little more than a cowbell and someone's elbow absently pressed down on a Casio keyboard.
So, we're treated to more of that for awhile.
|Christ, did they think we were gonna forget the name of the song if we weren't constantly hearing it?|
|The group average was a bit lower.|
So it's disconcerting to hear him announce that "I swear we got ourselves a party here" which consists of "Girls on the floor, Northside posse at the door," especially when the following line is "Should I stop? Nah."
I'm reasonably sure the New Kids on the Block just implicated themselves in a gang rape, but did it with such holiday cheer that we all just failed to notice. The girls were probably more than willing, Donnie! What drug did you give them to leave them on the floor, and why? Do I even want to know what your Northside posse did to them?
|My god, She's Got It (the White Stuff)!!! I can't unsee!|
And in case you harbored any uncertainties about whether this song was written while on the drive to the studio, we're then treated to a stanza-length primer about fire safety couched in a story about a time one of the New Kids encountered Santa on Christmas Eve. The tale involves Santa burning himself on a still-lit fireplace fire while coming down a chimney, and admonishing the New Kid for it. It is conveyed with all the verve and forethought of a conceptual joke being told to you by a five-year-old.
|"SO THEN THE DOG WALKS IN AND SAYS, HEY CAT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? AND THE CAT SAYS, OH, NOTHING, DOG, I'M JUST DOING LAUNDRY! SO THE CAT... OH, I FORGOT TO TELL YOU, THE DOG HAS A JACKET ON, I HAVE TO START OVER. SO, A DOG IS WEARING A JACKET..."|
Unbelievably, we're now treated to an extended version of the chorus, including breakdowns of both the backing track and my central nervous system.
Several hours later, if my senses are to be trusted, we finally reach a new stanza. It's Danny's turn to do his brand of essentially spoken-word poetry, since the dude just couldn't sing even by boy-band standards. It's just embarrassing, listening to him... rapping, I guess?... through his verse about slippin' and slidin' through the city streets. At one point he indicates that he's "throwing fresh rhymes" but no evidence exists to support that claim in this song.
Though he also insists that "it's snowin' outside but we're ho-ho-hoing," which serves a dual purpose as a signifier of holiday cheer and a telling, tragic clue toward how Danny made ends meet during the lean years after the New Kids on the Block star faded.
|Because no amount of Google image searching yielded a screencap of Dirk Diggler trying to jerk off in that dude's passenger seat for fifteen bucks, here's this.|
Finally, blessedly, we begin the final verse, in which a remarkable thing occurs. First we have a New Kid suggesting that a "funky dope jam" is on top of our Christmas lists, but dances around mentioning that our wish has gone sadly unfulfilled if this song was the only yield from that wish list.
And then, as if to acknowledge a crowd of people reacting hatefully to this song and its 80:20 ratio of chorus repetition to actual verses, Donnie Wahlberg actually says the following line:
"How could you be booin' it with Donnie D doin' it?"
The assumption that any audience would be actively booing the performance of this song is written into the song. This is possibly the most self-aware moment in pop history, courtesy of Donnie Wahlberg.
|Even more astonishing when you consider he once thought these pants were a good idea.|
I think we're done with the proper song at this point, though the track continues for another entire minute. Gotta make time for the chorus, y'know. Then we finish with Mush Mouth Santa Claus once again wishing us a merry Christmas, but poisoning the sentiment by finishing with the phrase "We're gonna kick the ballistics of our Christmas wishes," which makes no sense on top of setting race relations back yet another six years.
And the music fades out as Santa and his friend decide to "get all them reindeer and let's bust out of here," as every parent in America silently contemplates just telling their kids the truth about Santa Claus rather than risk their ever hearing this song.
If nothing else, Funky Funky Christmas serves a valuable anthropological purpose, in that we now have isolated the definitive cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and can attack it at its root.
|Here you go, ladies/gay men/porn mustache enthusiasts. You earned it.|