It’s very easy: So long as you don’t hear “The Little Drummer Boy,” you’re a contender. As soon as you hear it on the radio, on TV, in a store, wherever, you’re out. And you record your loss on the official reporting form, then tell us all about it on the Facebook wall, along with the time and place of your demise.
Special notes: You cannot be done in by anyone tricking you into hearing the dreaded tune or otherwise hitting you with it on purpose. Such exposure doesn’t count. In fact, it causes the “Hoist with His Own Petard” rule to come into play: the person who tries to take you down is officially eliminated for the attempt. Don’t let them try to tell you they’re not playing. We’re all playing, and they’ve lost. Bullies need to go down in flames and shame.
New for 2017 is the “Won’t Somebody Think of the Musicians?” rule. You cannot terrorize musicians in an attempt to de-Boy their set lists ahead of a concert you’re attending. It’s very cool of Aimee Mann, Randy Newman, Jeff Tweedy, and Lo Moon to do WFUV’s Holiday Cheer benefit concert, for instance. Please don’t harass them on Twitter, say, to make them promise that they won’t play the dreaded tune. It confuses and annoys the players and violates the spirit of the game. OK, I’ll get down off my pedestal now.
New for 2018 is the “Blurred Lines” rule. It used to be that interpretations of the song counted as lethal, while parodies were safe. Now, anything with the recognizable LDB tune — even if it’s just a short sample or sequence — takes you out of the game. It’s a little tougher, but also a lot simpler. (And yes, there may still be case-by-case exceptions, but otherwise? If you recognize even a snippet of the tune, you’re a goner. So, for example, Missy Elliott‘s “Work It” does not count because she just speaks a brief puh-rum-pum-pum-pum without ever singing it. But Beck‘s “Little Drum Machine Boy” counts because it includes the tune.)
Also: After years of being asked, we’ve put together a handy list of deadly movies, TV episodes, specials, ads, and more. Learn it of you want to live, and feel free to submit anything we’re missing.
What’s the time frame? The game begins the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) at 12:01 am local time and continues until 11:59 pm, Dec. 23. If you haven’t been puh-rum-pum-pum-pummed, you win. For this year, anyway.