In the search for a rock-tinged version of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” I found several interesting ones. In the process, the original 1966 version proved itself to be just as classic as ever.
There was no official selection process, just a simple clicking on videos that seemed interesting and taking in what the various performers had to offer in their takes on the classic. There were dozens of choices on YouTube, which speaks volumes about the universal appeal of the song.
How does “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch?” appeal to audiences universally? First, it is a criticism of a character who is set up via his appearance in book- and movie-form as an enemy of Christmas. Second, there is the instrumentation. It swings and vibes and in the original there is a blare of horns and a deep-voiced singer to bring the criticism of the fuzzy green man to life.
Even with the idea that the song has universal appeal, some of the forms of the song are surprising. Take trap for instance. The earth-shaking bass and nuanced mid-range electronic instrumentation, associated with gritty rap lyrics, is represented in a version of this song by a trap music promotion brand called Trap Music Now. Other arguably stand out versions of this song include versions by a Small Town Titans, Grave Robber, and the original vinyl recording that was also used in the 1966 animated movie.
“You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”: different versions, same purpose
Trap Music Now
This is the version that I found most surprising. And, as much as I liked it, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that they didn’t bother to include a live rapper on their version. So in some ways, the trap bass is used to augment the original. Given “Mr. Grinch’s” stylized use of a deep voice, there was real potential here for a contemporary take. (I realize that the song can be sung by higher voices, but a number of the versions take advantage of the lyrics having been written for a lower voice).
The mash-up of trap beats and the voice of the original singer, however, is more than a little interesting.
Small Town Titans
A three-piece rock band from York, Pennsylvania, Small Town Titans applies their face-melting sound to the now-classic Christmas tune. Lead singer and bassist, Phil Freeman takes the bass vocals to new depths. The instrumentation, made perfectly sludgy and raw by guitarist Ben Guiles and drummer Jonny Ross, will distract in a good way, and most listeners will be compelled to hit “replay.”
When Freeman hits certain low notes, some listeners will be sure that he won’t be able to reach the sharper, faster notes, but he does, with near-ease. The agitation audiences hear is part of the style. In its own dark way, this version is fun.
Grave Robber takes on “Mr. Grinch” via hardcore and horror punk
With its smeared horns and twisting phrases that encourage some kinds of dancing, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in its original form is a mix of pop and jazz. Still, it lends itself easily to punk, hard rock and metal. An example of that is the version of the song as presented by Fort Wayne, Indiana horror punk group, Grave Robber. A Christian band, Grave Robber often proves to have a sense of humor. The band actually has two versions of the song available on YouTube. The one presented here, and an animated one.
The heavy song also manages to capture the fun and rhyme of the original. While watching the videos of these songs is a helpful part of appreciating the various bands’ takes on “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” Grave Robbers’ version is full of detail and funny.
For some people, the holidays are not complete without fun or edgy versions of classic songs. The versions of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” discussed here are not even close to being an exhaustive list of all the bands who have taken on the classic. Even though I didn’t find the song I was looking for, I found others that are satisfying and engaging in their own ways.