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This week's feature

Xmas Kitsch – part 1

“I’m dreaming of a whiiiiite Christmas, just like the ones I used to knooooooow…” If there’s one song everyone knows by heart it’s this yuletide tune. Irving Berlin wrote it and many a star has sung it, but Bing Crosby’s version of “White Christmas” is the BEST SELLING SINGLE of all TIME. No kidding! This kitsch camp favorite is the ultimate holiday jingle, a blast from the past that brings us a smile year in, year out, plunging us back into our fondest childhood memories.

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Every holiday season, the frost nipping at our noses, pop culture decks the halls with boughs of holly. Advertisements, commercials, TV shows and films get into the spirit, often with an extra helping of kitsch! No Scrooge’s allowed – mag 79 is all about Christmas kitsch and pop culture:

    1. Can Christmas songs be both kitsch and beautiful?
    2. Kitsch as can be and we love it, All I want for Christmas Is You
    3. 3 questions to Quentin Delobelle, Orange France’s kitsch-loving dandy
    4. Christmas at the White House – Kitsch with a capital “K”
    5. So, can you do kitsch AND cool, at the same time?
    6. Franck and Kim Kuhn, champs of the 2015 Great Christmas Light Fight
    7. The best Xmas shows

Fasten your seatbelts, destination pop culture!

Like Wham! frontman George Michael sang in Last Christmas, in 1986:

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart / But the very next day, you gave it away / This year, to save me from tears / I’ll give it to someone special.

 

Can Xmas songs be both kitsch and beautiful?

Music - December 14, 2016

Can a song be kitsch and be good music? You bet. Just listen to this playlist of yuletide hits that are both kitsch and great pop.;)

In 1972, John Lennon released the peace anthem Happy Xmas (War is Over) with Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band. Though it didn’t make much of a splash in the ‘70s, it became wildly popular in the ‘80s, even climbing to number 2 on the Billboard Charts. A militant anthem becomes a timeless hit.

Soul singers also churn out Christmas hits, especially recently: think “This Christmas” (2010) by R&B king Chris Brown and “Back to December” (2011) by Taylor Swift. And for Xmas mellow, cue up “Something about December”, a sweet piano ballad by Christina Perri (2012). For some cozy hearth and home music, there’s Sam Smith’s velvety voice on “Have Yourself a Little Christmas” (2014). Kelly Clarkson’s first yuletide single, “Underneath the Tree”, was released in 2013 and Andra’s holiday tune “Merry Christmas” would put Scrooge himself in the holiday spirit. 😉

If punk’s your thing, turn it back to 1989 and The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” (1989). The group Train also knows how to rock out the mistletoe with “Shake up Christmas” (2010). And for the grand finale, The Killers Don’t Shoot Me Santa (2007). Rock’n’roll and Christmas were made for each other.:D

If you’re a Deezer subscriber, click here to cue up the playlist on our account.

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All I want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey (1994)

The infographic - December 14, 2016

Every holiday season the kitschy hit by our American diva – aka Mariah Carey – rockets up to the top of the Xmas singles chart!

infographic-mariah-carey-song-christmas

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3 questions to Quentin Delobelle, Orange France’s kitsch-loving dandy

The 3 questions - December 14, 2016

Every year, our buddies over at Orange France Communication dream up an ad campaign for the holiday season. This year they’re rocking the theme Christmas XXL, a multimedia kitsch bonanza, hashtag #BigNoël. We sat down with Quentin Delobelle, Creative and Communications Director and the brains behind these hilarious spots.

Orange Pop: How did you come up with this theme?

Quentin Delobelle: I was inspired by that Hollywood blockbuster “Deck the Halls”. Neighbors were trying to out-do each other in decorating their houses for the Christmas holidays. But there are other influences: when you’re in communications, you have to be in-step with the times. All over France at Christmastime, you see houses decked to the nines with a gazillion lights, Santas, reindeer, snowmen… Some cities like Bourges and Colmar even hold competitions, awarding prizes to the most resplendent dwellings. In the States, there’s a TV show called “The Christmas Light Show”. We’re surfing the yuletide deco wave and bringing you some of the most extravagant examples via smartphones, digital devices and drones.

O. Pop: Some of the “Big Noël” spots are full-bore kitsch, like the one with the Cheesy Guy. What pushed you and your team in this unusual direction?

QD: There’s something of a public attention deficit when it comes to advertisements these days; people just ignore spots where you basically just say, “Buy our product. It’s the best.” If the consumer doesn’t find the ad amusing or interesting, she won’t pay it any attention. One response to this is the new brand-style content ads. We see our spots as a variation of this new theme of life-hacking ads (How-to ads). Obviously the theme of Big Noël is an open invitation to outrageous. For example, we had the PSG’s top football stars yodeling in Christmas sweaters. That’s how I see kitsch: it’s a way of flirting with bad taste by going completely over the top.

O. Pop: What is it about Christmas that brings out the kitsch in everybody?

QD: I think it has to do with the general tone of excess that the holiday season indulges. Christmas has a down-home quality that lends itself to kitsch, an all-out-year-end-bash vibe that gives everyone carte blanche to toss the regular day-to-day rules right out the window. After all there’s something comforting about kitsch and camp. People need to unwind a little at Christmas and let their hair down, the most propitious conditions for kitsch. For example, there’s something of the cozy security blanket about the hand-knit Christmas sweater. And some of the PSG football stars in the Orange ad actually asked if they could keep the Xmas sweater they wore in the spot. But we won’t say which ones!;)

quentin-delobelle-kitsch-publicite-noel-bignoel-orange-france

© Quentin Delobelle, Creative and Communications Director at Orange France

 

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Christmas at the White House – Kitsch with a capital “K”

A picture says it all - December 14, 2016

The United States is right up there on the list of countries that really know how to do Kitsch. And nowhere is this more obvious than at The White House in December. Carolers, marathon yuletide photo sessions, the lighting of the Christmas Tree on the Elipse… Presidents and first ladies have always gone all out for the holidays, to the delight of kitsch enthusiasts through the years.

We promise yule love watching President Obama sing Jingle Bells. 🎄🎤

Une vidéo publiée par The White House (@whitehouse) le

Remember the Kennedy’s one and only White House Xmas? They bucked the trend with simple and elegant. Maybe a little too austere, come to think of it. The Reagans played Leave-It-to-Beaver Americana – the perfect couple. The Clintons took kitsch to stratospheric heights with Bill’s ties and Hillary’s cardigans. Obama turns on his 100-watt smile, turns up the style and switches on the tree trimmed in very, VERY patriotic ornaments. Us magazine did a glam spread photo extravaganza called “The Gift of the Holidays.”

Different times, different tastes but always kitsch!

noel-maison-blanche-kennedy-usa-kitsch

The Kennedys, classy kitsch, sixties style © Public Domain

 

reagan-noel-kitsch-maison-blanche-usa

Oh Ronnie! Isn’t it just SO beautiful! © Guetty Images

 

clinton-maison-blanche-noel

Bill & Hillary – The Champs © White House

 

obama-noel-maison-blanche-usa

The Obamas – Smooth Operators © White House / Chuck Kennedy

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So, can you do kitsch AND cool, at the same time?

The killer question - December 14, 2016

Can kitsch be cool? You bet! Witness English football powerhouse Arsenal, its colorful coach Arsène Wenger and stars Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud. Then there’s Virgin boss Richard Branson, singer Cheryl Cole, designers Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, top models Kate Moss and Dree Hemingway… What do they all have in common? They all wore or designed Xmas sweaters for Christmas Jumper Day, a charity event inaugurated in 2012 by the NGO Save The Children.

This year CJD takes place on Friday 16 December. Wear the kitschiest Christmas sweater you got and make a £2 minimum donation to Save the Children, an NGO that cares for kids in developing countries. It’s pure kitsch, good fun and great for kids, so join the movement here.

pull-kitsch-jumper-day-noel-arsenal-equipe

The Gunners are wearing red-nosed reindeer for Christmas Jumper Day © Presse Association

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Franck and Kim Kuhn, champs of the 2015 Great Christmas Light Fight

Who's who - December 14, 2016

Some take Christmas decorations more seriously than others. For the last three years, the American channel ABC has aired the show ‘The Great Christmas Light Fight, showcasing and discerning prizes to the most festive homes in the United States. One couple, from Saint George, Utah, decided to turn their house into a castle festooned with cartoon characters. The result is pretty impressive – turrets, ramparts, and even a drawbridge overrun by cartoon characters from the show “Phineas and Ferb”.

This spectacular deco extravaganza reached epic proportions on 7 December 2015, when they lighted all 500,000 bulbs to the blaring strains of the “Kuhns’ Christmas Spectacular” song. And with that, they secured the Grand Prize for the 2015 ‘Great Christmas Light Fight‘, pocketing a tidy $50,000 and the show’s famous trophy. The 2016 challenge started on 5 December. Get your sunglasses out!

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TOP 5 Xmas shows

Gimme 5 - December 14, 2016

This year 25 December is on a Sunday, perfect for a comfy sofa session of Xmas show binge-watching. Check out these cult series that did special yuletide episodes brimming with kitsch and good cheer.

1. 1991, The Prince of Bel Air – ‘Christmas Show ‘(season 2, episode 13): Happy Holidays at the Banks household. The family spends Christmas in an alpine chalet. Bonus: spectacular hand-knit sweaters and a massive snowstorm… with blue skies above!

prince-bel-air-scene-tv-noel

Great hand-knit Christmas sweaters and some serious ‘80s ambiance © NBC

2. 1993, The Nanny – ‘Christmas Special’ (season 1, episode 8): Christmas at the Sheffield’s is all about kitsch and excess. You just can’t have too many lights, garlands, and snow globes.

nounou-denfer-scene-noel-kitch-series-tv

The Sheffields take kitsch to a whole ‘nother level © CBS

3. 2000, Friends – ‘The One with the Holiday Armadillo’ (season 7, episode 10): “Merry Christmas” for some and “Happy Chanukah” for others, and whacky costumes and top-shelf kitsch for all.

seriestv-friends-scene-drole-noel

Christmas with roommates © TBS

4. 2003, Malcolm in the Middle – ‘Christmas Trees’ (season 5, episode 7): In this special holiday episode, the whole family gets into the Xmas spirit. Black market Christmas trees, squirrel chasing, a German-style family reunion in the heart of Texas, and an extra helping of kitsch, please.

malcom-serie-tv-scene-kitch-noel

Father and son and black market tannenbaums © FOX

5. 2012, The Big Bang Theory ‘The Santa Simulation’ (season 6, episode 11): Special holiday recipe of geek + kitsch. Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Rajesh host a Xmas-themed Dungeons & Dragons party. Their mission? Save Santa from the clutches of drooling ogres.

bigbang-theory-scene-noel-series-tv

The geek squad ringing in the New Year © CBS

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Grumpy Cat, the #1 Xmas star on Instagram

Stories - December 14, 2016

Famous for her sulky face, Grumpy cat undeniably remains one of the most iconic star of pop culture. Who has never seen memes of Grumpy cat on social networks? 😉

Recently, the world-famous cat has been switching to Xmas mode on her site and social networks. For the greatest pleasure of the fans, her Instagram account is full of great and funny pictures. The cat appears with Santa himself, looking as pleased as always (or not)! We can also see the grumpiest cat in the world with the traditional Xmas hat (and it fits her very well! :p), in a red couch with a Xmas gift, or with some holly branches. When an iconic figure of pop culture meets the kitsch of Xmas, it creates a perfect match!

In addition, the Instagram account unveils goods you can buy like special decorations of Grumpy Cat Light-UP Pathway Markers (the best to light up your driveway 😉 ). You can also find sweaters with the face of Grumpy cat on it. The choice is yours to have a perfect look for Xmas. 😉

And one thing is for sure, with this elf hat, Grumpy cat is cuter than ever before! 😀

Shop for all the Worst Grumpy Cat #CyberMonday Deals at: https://www.grumpycats.com/shop

A photo posted by Grumpy Cat (@realgrumpycat) on

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The Moomins will come back for Xmas 2017!

Stories - December 15, 2016

If you’re looking for wonderful tales, then you’re going to love the family animation Moomims at Christmas! Based on the books written by the Finnish Tove Jansson, the story takes place in a fantasy world with gentle trolls. The main character is Moomintroll, interesting in everything he sees. He decides to explore the winter where he meets strange creatures. A mysterious guest is supposed to come, called Christmas…

“Moomins” is a well-known serial of books that have been adapted in TV series, cartoons and even in opera! No wonder why the story comes back on the big screen in December 2017!

In addition, a song has been released for the movie: Bring the snow, performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and written by the musician Paula Vesala. Interesting thing to note, the song has been released in 23 languages. It’s going to be our next Xmas Carol! 😉

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The best of Xmas commercials of 2016

Stories - December 16, 2016

Everyone has a favorite commercial: an ad we all remember, no matter how old it is. Ads have a great impact on ourselves: they entertain us, they can make us laugh or cry… Brands perfectly understand it and like to play with our nostalgia. They are eager to use some legendary elements from our collective mind like Santa, the snowman or turkeys to produce nice videos for Xmas. Let’s make a focus on the best ads of this year:

  • Mark and Spencer – Christmas with love from Mrs Claus

Xmas is often one of the best eras to use story-telling. In this video, Mark and Spencer have invented Mrs Santa! She is sending her husband to deliver a Xmas present to a little girl: a pair of new, glittering red trainers. Simply amazing!

  • John Lewis:#Bustertheboxer

John Lewis, the chain of department store, tells the story of a dog and his family. Parents give their daughter a trampoline for Xmas, but the pets are so enthusiastic that they’re the ones who start jumping on the trampoline. A video both funny and cute!

  • Barbour: The snowman and the snowdog

This commercial of the wax jacket maker is based on the Raymond Brigg’s story The Snowman and the snowdog. It features two lovely characters on Xmas Eve… Classic but still beautiful!

Check out more great ads ranked by The Telegraph and of course, don’t miss the best one in our heart: the great advert of Orange France #BigNoel

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When Google mixes techs and Xmas kitsch

Stories - December 19, 2016

You can’t wait for Santa to come? Google is aiming at helping you to wait for the Xmas fever! For its 12th season, the Mountain View company launched the first day of December, an educational version of its famous “Santa Tracker” which is also an advent calendar. Each day, Google unlocks a new game or a video on the platform. You can follow the great adventures of Santa around the world, while waiting for the Xmas magic.

In addition of entertaining them, Google wants to inspire kids to become coders with games like “Practice to code with Santa’s elves”. The site also provides historic and geographic lessons as “Xmas traditions” across the world. From jetpack flying elves to rolling gumballs, the journey will be full of kitsch, techs and surprises! 😉

Take note: Santa Tracker is available on web, Android and iOs.

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When celebrities offer us a very special gift for Xmas!

Stories - December 20, 2016

As usual, American TV provides us with iconic and funny moments for Xmas. One of the greatest shows is the Carpool Karaoke, broadcasted every Wednesday night. James Corden, the host of the show, welcomes stars inside his car and starts singing along with them. This show has even become a required passage for celebrities!

He chose on December 15 to make a footage gathering a lot of celebrities like Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Red Hot Chili Papers, Gwen Stefani or Selena Gomez, singing “All I want for Xmas is you”, the iconic song by Mariah Carey. Through their interpretations, they brought the Xmas spirit to the show. And it’s quite a success as the video has been seen more than 17 million times in two days. This is the best karaoke of the year for sure!

We can’t help singing in chorus with them this classic! 😀

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See you next week!

To be continued - December 14, 2016

Next week, you’re gonna love some kitschy items for your house! 

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