I love Christmas music. At last count, my iTunes library contained some 447 Christmas songs, enough to run 24/7 through all twelve days. And my collection runs the stylistic gamut — from the hipster-folky stylings of Mason Jennings to the hilarity of Mojo Nixon’s Horny Holidays album to Pearl Jam’s haunting “Let Me Sleep” to all of Tony Bennett’s croony renditions of holiday standards (and the odd “My Favorite Things”. How did this become a Christmas song? It mentions Christmas once, in one line. Do I read Faulkner’s Light In August to the kids every December because there’s a character named Joe Christmas? No, my friends, I do not).
That said, there are some Christmas albums that I’ve left off of the playlist, simply because they’re, well, ghastly. A lot of entertainment folk – and this includes actors as well as singers – get a festive but wild hair up their asses and decide to cut a Christmas album. These 5 offerings are proof that even though the Christmas spirit is a lovely thing that we could all certainly use a lot more of, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
William Hung, Hung For The Holidays
My bosses here at MamaPop want me to make my Monday posts a bit more of a longform experience for you, Dear Reader. And yet, when faced with the fact that William Hung – you know, the guy from American Idol who became an Internet sensation thanks to his cover of the Ricky Martin song “She Bangs” – not only recorded a Christmas album but called it Hung For The Holidays…well, I’m sort of at a loss for words.
Kenny Chesney, All I Want For Christmas (Is A Real Good Tan)
Kenny Chesney made a name for himself a few years back by trying to ape Jimmy Buffett’s “Shitkicker Uncle Retires To The Caribbean” schtick. Unlike Buffett, who (love him or hate him) is a genuine Island Guy whose earlier work contains a wry sense of self-aware humor, Chesney comes across as a poseur who makes Buffett look like the Jeff Mangum of Kingstown. Here is the title track from his Christmas album, “All I Want For Christmas (Is A Real Good Tan)”; the CD melts nicely when tossed on to a beach bonfire.
Twisted Sister, Twisted Christmas
Twisted Sister did a Christmas album? Yes. In fact, Twisted Sister did quite a few albums – 6 in all! 6! – before releasing Twisted Christmas in October of 2006. Now, the sad part is not that Twisted Sister made 5 albums that you probably never knew existed. It’s not even the fact that Twisted Sister made a Christmas album. No, the tragedy here is that Twisted Sister released Twisted Christmas in October of 2006 – two years after Stay Hungry, their first attempt at a comeback. Stay Hungry was released 17 years after their previous album. The question of whether or not Twisted Christmas was a success on any level is best answered by listening to their version of “White Christmas”. (SPOILER ALERT: the answer is “no”.)
Jimi Hendrix, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Back in college, a buddy of mine had a really good bootleg of this posthumously released collection of Hendrix – yes, there was only one Jimi Hendrix, and unfortunately for him, this is him – doing covers of holiday tunes. We’d get wrecked and listen to it in a stunned mix of awe and grief; at one point, one can clearly hear Hendrix saying “Man, I really don’t feel like going through with this.” Unlike most of Hendrix’s work, it’s…ah, not good.
David Hasselhoff, The Night Before Christmas
There’s a saying: it’s always darkest before the dawn. Listen to The Hoff’s album on Christmas Eve, and you’ll know just how true this is. A perennial favorite in Germany, a complete mystery anywhere else, Hasselhoff spreads holiday joy like only he can: poorly, and probably drunk.
Ugh. Thinking that we all need a bit of a palette cleanser, so, here. Merry Christmas!