Just in time to help me procrastinate studying for finals, the stars (and my interests) have aligned and blessed me with an article to write. On December 16th, talk show host and American hero Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. brought former Black Flag barker, decorated journalist, and all-around punk legend Henry Rollins on his show to join him in singing August Burns Red‘s holiday classic ‘Carol of the Bells‘.
The idea of a punk rock ‘Carol of the Bells‘ is innately funny, but the presentation of the whole thing was the least punk thing possible. Never mind the highly corporate spirit of the holidays that punk has protested in the past, or the matching red Christmas sweaters worn by Colbert and Rollins. The whole thing played out on a late-night talk show on one of America’s biggest TV channels – how much more mainstream can you get?
As we know, punk bands are excused for going on TV shows if they simultaneously push a punk ideology. For example, the Sex Pistols damn near shut down the BBC, and FEAR caused massive amounts of damage to Saturday Night Live‘s studio. However, not a single expletive was uttered and not a single piece of equipment was destroyed. This is a sad turn of events for a man whose most famous song is about non-conformity.
Stephen Colbert has proven himself to be a capable vocalist in the past, if nothing special. However, I wouldn’t call this one of his best performances. The same goes for Rollins; it seems like he had difficulty keeping up with the song, slurring his words in places in an attempt to stay on-beat. Sure, he’s older now, but I expected better from him.
I did enjoy the duet’s unorthodox arrangement, though. The contrast between Colbert‘s meek vocals and Rollins‘s trademark roar made for some entertaining (and comedic) soft-loud dynamics. The backing from Colbert‘s house band, Stay Human, injected a fair amount of energy into the song. However, the horn section was way too prominent in the mix. Instead of the hardcore punk you might expect, Rollins‘s section had more of a Reel Big Fish vibe to it.
In the end, it was an enjoyable performance, but it certainly could’ve been better. I suppose we should just be happy that it exists at all. Check it out below:
Sam, also known by his colleagues as "Jewy Lewis and the News", has a booming voice that frightens the elderly and an innate need to inform everyone of his opinions about everything, whether they want to hear them or not. He is currently a student of Broadcast Journalism at the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
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