It’s been thirty-four years now, and the Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” remains an insanely absurd holiday pop culture artifact. The song itself, which has inexplicably become a staple of compilation albums, is nuts enough – the medley was hastily written when Bowie expressed his dislike for “The Little Drummer Boy,” and the sloppiness of the mash-up clashes with the singers’ earnest performances. More insane, though, is the video clip where it originated, as part of the 1977 TV special Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas. With a set-up that finds Bowie visiting Crosby to borrow a piano (or something – it’s all a blur, no matter how many times I watch it) and a script forcing the stars to trade weak banter about “modern music,” the ploy to make Crosby seem hipper and Bowie seem less radical has a surreal quality that’s just… well, consider this: last year, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly created a shot-for-shot remake, and, aside from some goofiness at the end, they didn’t need to add any jokes at all, opting instead to let the weirdness speak for itself.
P.S.: The Ferrell/Reilly skit was just one of several Crosby/Bowie parodies to crop up last Christmas. Here’s another, featuring Jack Black and Jason Segel.