For all the beautiful standards and original spiritual gems, there’s a catalogue of Christmas cuts that lean into something a bit more unhinged. While traditional carols and hymns are wonderful for singing at Christmas parties, you may want to spice it up a little bit with some funny tunes to take the edge off. Over the years quite a few have come to light –‘ All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth’, ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’, ‘Redneck 12 Days of Christmas’, ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’, but the list is endless.
This year we have a brand new contender for that list, entitled ‘Christmas on Cellblock 9’. The song was created by the songwriting and production team behind the #1 international iTunes hits, “I Will Tell Jesus You Said Hello” and “My Worth” – See Your Shadow Songwriting, led by Michael Coleman. Based out of Phoenix, Arizona, the project hosts a collaborative network of talented vocalists and musicians.
Michael Coleman, the artistic director of See Your Shadow Songwriting, writes and produces all the songs. “Christmas on Cellblock 9″ has been a long time coming,” says Coleman. “I have been wanting to do a holiday record for many years. I first got the idea when I was working on another project around holiday time, with one of my long-time collaborators. I was listening to some Christmas music on the radio, and I thought to myself – ‘the public needs something else that is funny, other than, ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.’
It sounds like Coleman certainly succeeded in his task, but he may just have gone one better. Take away the sleigh bells and the Christmas connotations, and you have yourself a damn good up-tempo, and radio-ready country tune. Bursting with jangly strums, fiery leads, a catchy chorus and a resonating lead vocal, ‘Christmas on Cellblock 9’ is serious music indeed. Until you listen to the lyrics…or watch the video.
“Christmas on Cellblock 9” takes a comedic twist as the story of being arrested on Christmas Eve unfolds into a somewhat traumatic experience for the protagonist. Things come to a head, when the song hits the chorus: “Decking the halls behind concrete walls, Jack Frost was nipping, but not at my nose. Telling bubba no means no, underneath the mistletoe. That holiday spent doing time, Christmas on Cellblock 9.”
This record is tight and well recorded without being over produced or under mixed. As can be expected from the See Your Shadow Songwriting team, led by Michael Coleman, all aspects of the music and the lyric sheet, is perfectly spot on.
Put aside any bias you may have about Christmas songs, and venture out of your self-imposed realms like I did. Give it a couple of spins and see how it feels. I think you’ll be very glad you did. Its brilliance and superb simplicity deserves to speak to you directly. This has to be about the best comedic Christmas song written in a long time.