Air Force Band Celebrates Christmas, Flash Mobs Smithsonian

The US Air Force Band continued its annual tradition of a “flash mob” performance of holiday songs. This year was less “flash” and more “mob,” given the use of prepositioned stages, but, in a refreshing surprise, the “holiday” songs clearly referred to the “holy” day:

This year’s event featured two Christmas carols: “Patapan,” which the vocalists sang in French and English, and “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” which is based on a French dance tune originally by Jehan Tabourot, with the text being written by English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward.

From the two songs, which are clearly Christmas carols: 

“When the men of olden days, Gave the King of Kings their praise…”

“Verily the sky
Is riv’n with angel singing
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!”

The AF Band was even joined by outgoing Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James in its second song.

The “flash mob” USAF Band performances have been surprisingly popular.  YouTube currently shows a bit more than 13,000 views in the day since the 2016 show was posted.  The 2014 and 2015 shows ultimately received more than 2 million views each, and the original (and best) 2013 video has more than 200,000 views.

Many people criticize the Air Force (and the other services) for even having a band, and making a flashy YouTube video probably isn’t high on the list of national defense priorities. Still, it’s interesting and entertaining to see, and people are clearly paying attention to it and — mostly — enjoying it.

Two who haven’t quite enjoyed it have been Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his research assistant Chris Rodda. Weinstein actually emailed the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to complain about the Air Force Band’s 2013 performance — complete with ALL CAPS and random punctuation to accentuate his point. (Given that the Secretary of the Air Force was a participant this year, there’s no one left to whom he could complain…) Chris Rodda had a more academic critique, which basically boiled down to “because ISIS.”

Thankfully, the Air Force ignored the heartless holiday critiques and the rest of the world enjoyed the joyous season.

Somebody needs to send Mikey and Chris a box of chocolates.  Maybe then they could have a Merry Christmas.