Song Of The Day 12/20/2014: The Go-Go's - "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek"


Christmas Week: Most cognitive members of my family have developed some level of Doctor Who fandom. I remain the lone holdout, never having been a huge follower of televised science fiction. That's what you get for playing jazz piano as a teenager. (Though I'm a fan of Peter Capaldi, since he's in my second favorite film of all time.) (And a possible top 10-er.) (And he's a not-bad post-punk singer.) So I stand very much outside the sphere of understanding the Doctor Who mythology, resulting in my having only a basic dramatist's understanding of what a Dalek is. I get that they're the bad guys in the series. I know that they resemble a combination of an android, a plunger, one of those solar-powered street-side trash compactors and the buttons in the Wonkavator. I also know that, like certain investment bankers in the early part of the 21st century, Daleks feel no pity, have no remorse and are the mutant creations of megalomaniacal renaissance men.

But that didn't stop Newcastle post-teen band The Go-Go's (sorry '80s children, not those Go-Go's) from trying to make Daleks as pussycat-cuddly as their alloyed shells would allow with this timely 1964 yuletide pop song, and by "timely" I mean it was relevant for slightly less time than it took to record. "The kids will go for it in a big way, and the tune is catchy enough to keep the grown-ups' feet tapping," read a press release for the record. Sometimes if we say a lie over and over it becomes true to us. I learned that selling encyclopedias.

The Go-Go's have a reasonable go at the necessary Dalek elements like the halting speech and the piercing electronic whistle-whine, but the most up-front characteristic of "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek" is Sue Smith's faux-preschool, high-strung lisping vocals. There's your problem right there. Make it about the Dalek: That's what Leonard Bernstein would have done. This song was released and then left for dead until it appeared on a 2000 compilation album called Who Is Dr. Who? Although I'm not a devotee, I'm clued in enough to know that it's supposed to be Doctor Who, not Dr. Who. I wasn't created by a malevolent scientist with a cheese Danish for a head just yesterday.

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