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"Christmas at Ground Zero"
Single by "Weird Al" Yankovic
from the album Polka Party!
B-side "One of Those Days"
Released November 1986
Format 7" / 12"
Recorded April 23, 1986
Genre Comedy, Christmas carol
Length 3:08
Label Rock 'n' Roll/ Scotti Brothers
Producer "Weird Al" Yankovic
"Weird Al" Yankovic singles chronology
"Living with a Hernia"
(1986)
"Christmas at Ground Zero"
(1986)
"Fat"
(1988)
Polka Party! track listing
  1. "Living with a Hernia"
  2. "Dog Eat Dog"
  3. "Addicted to Spuds"
  4. "One of Those Days"
  5. "Polka Party!"
  6. "Here's Johnny"
  7. "Don't Wear Those Shoes"
  8. "Toothless People"
  9. "Good Enough for Now"
  10. "Christmas at Ground Zero"

"Christmas at Ground Zero" is an original song by "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is done in the style of a Christmas carol, with bells and a saxophone section, and is one of Yankovic's darkest songs, alongside "The Night Santa Went Crazy" (which is also a Christmas novelty song).[1]

The expression "ground zero" was largely connected with nuclear explosions at the time this song was written. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the term was co-opted by the media in reference to the World Trade Center attacks. (In fact, an unrelated folk ballad with the same title was released by a Michigan musician in December 2001, with all profits going to families of the September 11 victims and to a Michigan chapter of NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders), a charity benefiting research into rare disorders.[2]) Due to the new associations of the title, the Yankovic song received far-reduced airplay from 2001 onward,[3][4] but continues to appear in novelty programming such as the Dr. Demento show.[1]

Contents

Track listing

The following tracks are on the single:

  1. "Christmas at Ground Zero" – 3:08
  2. "One of Those Days" – 3:15

The promo single only contains "Christmas at Ground Zero".

Lyrics

Although the song strongly resembles a Christmas carol, the lyrics describe a situation where a nuclear war is breaking out and humanity is about to end.

The song contains numerous references familiar to those who were children during the early atomic age (Oh, it's Christmas at Ground Zero / And if the radiation level's okay / I'll go out with you and see the all new / Mutations on New Year's Day" and "I'll duck and cover / With my Yuletide lover / Underneath the 'missile'-toe").

Music video

The music video was made during the 1980s at the time of the Cold War. This music video was also Yankovic's directing debut. The video is a montage of old film, television, and news footage, capped off with a live-action scene of Yankovic and some carolers wearing gas masks, singing with rubble around them. It was edited with Yankovic by Darren Bramen with final edits and effects by John Peterson. The video seems to be set in the 1950s, using quite a bit of recycled footage circa-1940s government issued videos that instructed people to "duck and cover" during the threat of a nuclear attack.

  • The video montage is a mixture of various film clippings, some of which depicts Christmas cheer whereas others show a nuclear attack. Notably, several clips are taken from the propaganda film Duck and Cover.
  • The video features a clip of pre-president Ronald Reagan, due to the Cold War theme.
  • The live action finale was filmed in the Bronx, New York, in an area that looked like a bomb recently went off.

Notes

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Phil Kloer. "'Mock!' The herald popsters sing: Christmas sentiments prove popular target for songwriters," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 17, 2001, page C1. While it seems like anything goes, that may not be the case. Dr. Demento (whose real name is Barry Hansen) could think of two songs he says won't be getting much, if any, radio airplay this year: 'A Terrorist Christmas' and Weird Al Yankovich's 'Christmas at Ground Zero.' Both were recorded in the 1990s and have nothing to do with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, except for an unfortunate resonance. But another Yankovich song is among the most requested on Demento's show: 'The Night Santa Went Crazy,' in which the toy-bringer turns into 'a big fat drunk disgruntled Yuletide Rambo' and goes on a rampage, shouting, 'Merry Christmas to all -- now you're all gonna die!'
  2. ^ John Flesher. "Fund-raising song pays tribute to America," The Grand Rapids Press (Michigan), December 12, 2001, page A23: Jimmy Lewis wanted to pay tribute to America after the terrorist attacks. He wanted to help people in need. And he had long wanted to write a Christmas song. He accomplished all three with "Christmas at Ground Zero," a folk ballad recently recorded at a northern Michigan studio ... .
  3. ^ Marc Fisher. "On all-Christmas-song stations, little is sacred," The Washington Post, December 25, 2005, Sunday Arts section, page N8: Christmas somehow brings out the corny and the crazy in many artists, providing [disk jockey Lou] Brutus with a wealth of material such as ... Weird Al Yankovic, who once produced a song that you will never again hear on the radio. It was called 'Christmas at Ground Zero,' and was recorded long before 9/11, though it did have to do with a nuclear attack on Christmas Day. Still, the title renders it unplayable, which Brutus laments, 'because it's a great song.'
  4. ^ Jeff Pizek. "Season's beatings" (article about non-traditional holiday songs), Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 4, 2008, Time Out! section, page C1: Of all the artists whose songs were pulled from the airwaves after Sept. 11, pop jester 'Weird Al' seemed an unlikely candidate. ... The lyrics of his first holiday tune, this Phil Spector-ish Cold War reminder temporarily banned in ’01, are so sarcastically macabre you might guess they were written by the Dead KennedysJell-O Biafra. Its great video, consisting almost entirely of stock footage, was Al’s directorial debut.

External links

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