Christmas Songs day 14: The Grinch

The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea.

The 1966 TV special “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, based on the book by Dr Suess, contains within it three songs. The first was the Christmas carol “Welcome Christmas”, known for being sappy and cute. The second was an upbeat jingle called “Trim up the tree”, known for being the forgotten song. The third was “You’re A Mean One, Mr Grinch”, known for being awesome:

The song is a classic children’s villain song: light-hearted and playful while extolling the anti-virtues of the villain. What my father, brother, and I loved about it as a child was the snarky deadpan tone it takes. It takes a very talented voice actor to pull off lines such as:

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch!
With a nauseous super naus!
You’re a crooked jerky jockey,
And you drive a crooked hoss,
Mr. Grinch!

And Thurl Ravenscroft (NOT, as is commonly quoted, Boris Karloff, who voiced the Grinch’s spoken voice and the narrator but did not sing) pulled it off spectacularly.

It’s well-written, too, not surprising since it’s written by the good doctor Seuss himself, but quite pleasing nonetheless. There’s something about the rhythm of words that Seuss seems to understand intuitively; phrases like “crooked jerky jockey” or “king of sinful sots” are just fun to say, and the content being so over-the-top makes it quirky enough to want to sing along with.

In 2000, a live-action remake of the story was created. In my opinion, Jim Carrey did not do the song justice, instead chewing the scenery overmuch:

The original was a classic because it was snarky and understated; it just comes across as corny and kind of gross when performed in this manner.

Cover versions tend to fall into two categories: Meh, like this Sixpence None The Richer cover:

Or the Glee version:

Or else they’re utterly terrible, like this over by a group named Grave Robbers:

Nevertheless, for some odd reason, it sounds actually pretty good done as an acapella group arrangement. Here’s a group called Take 6 (the beginning’s rough, but it picks up one they get into it):

And my latest musical crush, Straight No Chaser (video is a kind of low-quality live version, I do recommend buying their album, which is a lot easier to hear):

This post goes out to Sconi and Kae, both of whom requested the song; is this anyone else’s favorite carol?

This entry was posted in Christmas Music Special, Deconstructions, Music and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Christmas Songs day 14: The Grinch

  1. Brin says:

    And my latest musical crush, Straight No Chaser (video is a kind of low-quality live version, I do recommend buying their album, which is a lot easier to hear):

    The video following this says it’s Pentatonix covering “Dog Days Are Over”.

    • yamikuronue says:

      That… is bizzare. Must have been related to the fact it was in a playlist? Anyway, I’ve replaced it with the correct video now, thanks 🙂

  2. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 14th 2012 « The Slacktiverse

  3. Firedrake says:

    This is all new to me. But yeah, the Carrey version seems like a nightclub performance, and that twiddle on the oboe or saxophone or whatever it is between “You’re a mean one” and “Mr Grinch” is necessary to make it interesting… OK, unless you’re Straight No Chaser. 🙂

    On the other hand there’s a long tradition of heavy metal cover versions. I quite like Gary Hoey’s electric guitar instrumental take on it (but that’s true of most things he’s done) –

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