Mary Kay Bergman
Red-numbered tracks are instant
classics and are recommended by this reviewer
1. Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo
2. Merry Fucking Christmas
5. Carol of the Bells
Lonely Jew on Christmas
7. I Saw Three Ships
8. It Happened in Sun Valley
9. O Tannenbaum
Time in Hell
11. What the Hell Child Is This?
12. Santa Claus Is On His Way
Colony Beef Log
14. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Most Offensive Song Ever
17. We Three Kings
18. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Explicit Lyrics
Running time: 36m
U.S. release: November 23, 1999
Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
songs are maddeningly catchy without being any good: they stay
in your head all day and drive you nuts. Other songs, though,
are welcome to put down roots in your cerebellum -- especially
funny ones. Trey Parker is a modern master at hilarious songs
that catch in your brain like a fish hook, and probably no album
of the past year has altered my consciousness more than last
Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut soundtrack. I can't
count the number of times I've been at work, performing some
harmless boring function, when suddenly my inner jukebox starts
blaring "You can see your breath hanging in the air/You
see homeless people but you just don't care." Or, "Blame
Canada/Blame Canada/With their beady little eyes/Their flapping
heads so full of lies." Or, "Shut your fucking face,
Uncle Fucka/You're the one that fucked your uncle, Uncle Fucka."
These songs have no real reason to take up so much space in my
brain; they just do.
Well, Parker and musical collaborator Marc Shaiman have gotten
together again to add some more tracks to my mental MP3 player.
Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics, despite some dead spots,
is easily the most cheerfully obscene and blasphemous album to
come down the pike in many a season. Even when it isn't gut-busting,
it's still highly listenable, and sometimes it's even unexpectedly
touching (more on that later). Rather than being dirtied by his
association with South Park, Shaiman has at least partially
redeemed himself after years of cranking out scores for such
vomit-inducers as Patch
Adams; it turns out Shaiman has this whole other bad-boy
side to him, and Parker, for his part, has a genuine appreciation
for show tunes -- if part of him didn't love this stuff, he couldn't
parody it nearly as effectively.
About half of the 18 songs on the disc were visualized on a South
Park episode a couple weeks back; some are Parker-Shaiman
originals, while others are renditions of Christmas songs South
Park-style. Oddly, one of the lamer bits in the episode --
a Santa/Jesus duet, enlivened only by Santa's impromptu cover
of "Rio" -- isn't on the album, to which I say, Good
riddance. There are a couple of songs on the disc, like Mr. Mackey's
"Carol of the Bells" and Shelley Marsh's "I Saw
Three Ships," that don't stand very well on their own; it
helps to see the accompanying visuals (like Stan and Kyle goofing
on Shelley in the background). But most of the other stuff here
stands alone quite nicely (though, like the previous South
Park albums, it's not really for newbies -- if you play this
for someone who's never seen the show, or even just seen a few
episodes, don't expect lotsa laffs).
What's most important is that "The Lonely Jew on Christmas"
is here. This song, when I first heard it while watching a four-episode
South Park marathon back on New Year's Eve 1997, was the
song that convinced me that South Park wasn't just a collection
of fart jokes -- that it had real wit and, yes, sensibility.
A sort of morose answer to Adam Sandler's proud-to-be-Jewish
"Hanukkah Song," it's also a dead-on parody of the
old Rankin-Bass Christmas-special tunes. It's here in its full
unbleeped splendor (though I have to say that the bleeps on the
show made it funnier), along with a "special celebrity guest"
whose identity I wouldn't dream of spilling. Every week on South
Park we're told that "celebrity voices are impersonated
-- badly," but they managed to get someone (maybe Parker
himself?) who absolutely nailed Elton John's voice in "An
Elephant Makes Love to a Pig," and the celebrity guest on
"Lonely Jew" is likewise pitch-perfect mimicry. It's
probably Parker, too. I stand in awe of this guy's talent.
One track you can play for South Park newbies with a sick
sense of humor (though name someone with a sick sense of humor
who hasn't seen South Park) is "Dead, Dead,
Dead," performed by Juan Schwartz and the South Park Children's
Choir. "Juan Schwartz," as hardcore SP fans
know, is Trey Parker; he acted under that name for Cannibal!
The Musical. It's a gentle, lulling tune about how we're
all going to die -- I loved it. There's also "Christmas
Time in Hell," Satan's rousing number, which deserves to
become a radio standard (a lot of the other tracks wouldn't make
it past the censors). It seems sort of mean-spirited to put Gene
Siskel in Hell (did he pan BASEketball or Orgazmo?
is this revenge?), but there are viciously funny digs at more
As always, Eric Cartman steals the show. Here we find his non-cattle-prod
version of "O Holy Night" (I miss the cattle prod,
though). He still screws up the words: "Fall on your knees/And
hear the angels ... something ..." He also makes his presence
felt in the South Park Children's Choir's performance of "Hark
the Herald Angels Sing," in which he sometimes seems on
the verge of shitting his pants. Cartman also shines in "Swiss
Colony Beef Log," easily the album's "what-the-fuck?"
showstopper; I hear a distinct Meat Loaf influence here -- an
Cartman also turns up on the disc's masterpiece, "Dreidel
Dreidel Dreidel," which begins with Kyle's simple tune ("Second
verse, same as the first," remember?) and works it up to
a stunning five-part harmony involving Kyle, Stan, Cartman, and
Kyle's parents. It would've been nice if they could've gotten
Kenny in there too, but we can't have everything. Kenny does,
however, appear on the album's second-best track, the accurately
titled "The Most Offensive Song Ever," in which the
muffled, perpetually dead third-grader duets with Mr. Hankey.
The fun here is figuring out what Kenny is singing (it took me
two or three spins); once you do, you get the joke, and the joke
is awfully one-note but also awfully funny.
Speaking of Mr. Hankey, he also turns up here and there, including
the first track (a dead-on stab at "Frosty the Snowman")
and his historic first appearance in Kyle's toilet. Truth to
tell, Mr. Hankey has always been funnier as an idea than as a
character; he isn't really even the funniest part of the episode
that introduced him (that honor would have to go to Cartman's
first-ever rendition of "Kyle's Mom's a Bitch"). Partly
it's his voice, which annoys me and almost wrecks his otherwise
hilarious duet with Kenny. Another annoying voice here is Mr.
Garrison, who has never sung before and probably should not sing
again. His hostile "Merry Fucking Christmas," in which
he aggressively brings Christmas cheer to "heathen"
countries, might have sounded better coming from, say, Uncle
Jimbo and Ned. (Some will be relieved that Ned's voice-box version
of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" isn't on the album.)
There are some other "eh" numbers. "We Three Kings,"
sung by Mr. Ose (whom only the most rabid SP fans would
even remember), feels like filler. So does Adolf Hitler's rendition
of "O Tannenbaum," another bit that doesn't stand well
alone; on the disc, it's just a guy sobbing in German. Chef also
weighs in with "What the Hell Child Is This?", which
takes the old standard and puts that special Chef lovin' on it
-- somehow this segues into the song Chef performed on SP's
first Christmas special. It's okay, but I think Chef is funnier
when doling out advice to the "chi'dren" than when
he launches into one of his predictable stud numbers.
The track that stops laughter and ushers in a solemn mood is
"It Happened in Sun Valley" as sung by Stan Marsh and
Wendy Testaburger. Not because of the song itself, an upbeat
number punctuated by Stan's usual projectile-vomiting on Wendy,
but because of its unintentional tragic subtext. It reminds us
that this is the last time we'll hear Wendy sing -- Mary Kay
Bergman, who did almost all the female voices on South Park,
killed herself last month. There was a nice moment near the end
of the South Park special promoting this album in which
all the female characters were spotlighted, as if Parker and
Matt Stone were paying tribute to their friend and integral collaborator.
Bergman can also be heard in Shelley Marsh's number and as Kyle's
mom in "Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel." But the duet between
Parker and Bergman has an extra poignance. You can picture Bergman
having a great time doing it, and that just makes it sadder.
A great toon voice to rival Phil Hartman's was silenced last
So will I go to work tomorrow humming these tunes? Probably not
-- it took a week or so for "Blame Canada" and "What
Would Brian Boitano Do" to lodge in my brain. But I'm betting
that by Christmas morning, while everyone else is singing "Deck
the Halls" and "Jingle Bells," my mental jukebox
will be playing such sweet lyrics as "Mother tries to comfort
me/She says 'Here son, have some eggnog'/But I fuckin' hate eggnog,
se'iously" or "What the fuck is up with lighting all
these fucking candles, tell me please" or especially "Mmph
mmph hmmf mmph hmmf mmmph hmmf hmmf mmph/And still be a virgin,
Mary." The best part about that last one is that I can sing
it aloud and nobody'll know what the mmph I'm talking about.