Every December 1st, my mom opens 3 cabinet doors
in the dining room and pulls out the 5 different containers of Christmas CDs.
Why we have this many containers of Christmas CDs, I don’t
know. But about every single one gets through rotation at least once during the
Christmas season in the family room’s 5-disc changer.
Now while we get our fair share of enjoyable holiday treats
from Nat King Cole, Mel TormÃ©, The Muppets, and Kristin Chenoweth, my parents
also have some of the weirdest and worst Christmas music probably ever
recorded. And they insist on giving them a listen even though they know they’re
After scavenging through the piles and piles of CDs, I’ve
come down to a top 10 of the most terrible stuff I get to hear at least once a
year thanks to my parents’ “illustrious” collection:
10. Christmas Cookin’
Artist: Jimmy Smith
I have no problem with their being a black Santa Claus. In
fact, I personally have always thought that Santa probably was and is black.
But there’s something about Jimmy Smith as Santa here that is more than just a
Chillin’ in his convertible on some soundstage in front of a
backdrop, as most musicians did in the 60′s ““ I can deal with that. But it’s
that look in his eyes. That devilish, “Hey, wanna come sit on mylap? Ho,” look that is undeniably
Also, what’s the gift he’s holding? Is it supposed to be a
box of chocolates, maybe? It looks more like a large print copy of a Captain
Underpants book. And the way he’s holding it, as if he’s trying to entice you
into his car so he can get you in the [Santa] sack. CREEPER
I don’t know anything about the self-proclaimed “incredible”
Jimmy Smith. So when I popped in this album, I didn’t really know what to
expect, except something forgettable.
Instead, what I got was a romp through winter wonderland
thanks to the smooth sounds of the electric organ. Now, I can dig an electric
organ when it’s necessary. Sometimes, it’s just what a song needs. Not often.
Here though, Jimmy Smith is apparently the king of swing on
the electric organ. News to me. But using the electric organ to this extent on
a single album proves to be detrimental for the whole CD then ends up sounding
as elevator music. Maybe that’s what Jimmy strived for in his career, but a
whole 10 track album devoted to stuff you only want to listen to for a maximum
of 22 seconds is not a good idea.
Worst Track: #6. Santa
Claus is Coming to Town
A tough decision considering that funky organ music
definitely shouldn’t be given riffs on such solemn pieces as “We Three Kings”
and “Silent Night.” But the most frustrating track has got to be “Santa Claus
is Coming to Town” if only for the simple reason at 3:59 in which Jimmy decides
to hold a note on his organ for an un-ending and excruciating 10 seconds that
really makes you want to cut off your ear lobes. What a stupid idea.
9. A Surf “N’ Swing,
Fret “N’ String Christmas!!
Artist: Nokie Edwards & The Light Crust Doughboys with
Tom Brumley, The Dallas Banjo Band, Smokey Montgomery, and Art Greenhaw
The main problem with this album cover is that if it wasn’t
for the word “Christmas” in the title, I wouldn’t really know it’s a Christmas
album. I mean, yeah, there are Christmas lights up on the top, but those don’t
necessarily have to be festive. My house has purple Christmas lights up year-round.
So I just expected this to be a Texan-Hawaiian hybrid of
musical fission but instead it’s actually a Christmas album. Hmmm. Somebody
should have thought of that when making the cover art. Maybe the hula girl in a
pair of boots and then a Santa hat instead, so all of the major food groups
could be covered.
The album is an unorganized hodge-podge of varying styles of
music all with the central theme of Christmas and not being very good. For some
tracks, it’s Hawaiian. For others, it’s banjos. And for others still, it’s a
bizarro story being told to you by a man who you’re pretty sure you don’t want
to be telling stories to you.
It’s as if the twelve hundred people involved with this
album all wanted to do different things with it and they couldn’t decide so
they just decided to do all of them on one album. Thank God for that decision
or else we would not have gotten this tasty treat.
Also, what a terrible name for a band ““ The Light Crust
Doughboys? I mean, c’mon.
Worst Track: #10. The
I don’t get this song. What is it doing on this album? Is
this a Christmas song? Why is it so creepy? Why is this the story that you felt
you needed to tell on this album? Again, why
is it so creepy?
8. Hodie Cantamus
Artist: The Texas Boys Choir
Obviously, the boys in this boys choir are porcelain dolls
with their mouths stuck in perfect “O” position forever. What?
Boys choirs can be delightful. I should know because I used
to sing in one. And the Texas Boys Choir is a fine choir. I should know because
I used to sing it in.
In fact, I sing on this album. Yep. Back when I used to look
Anyways, objectively speaking, this album is kind of a mess.
The biggest mistake comes from the points in the tracks in which a boy whose
voice has obviously changed continues to sing the treble parts in falsetto.
Was that confusing? Let me explain ““ before a boy’s voice
changes he sings soprano or alto, normally what girls sing in choir. After a
boy’s voice changes he sings tenor (if his balls still haven’t dropped
entirely) or bass (if he’s a real man). But boys with changed voices can still sing
soprano and alto in their head voice (or falsetto) but it sounds nowhere near
as good. Why? It’s all about the balls.
So on too many of these track you have a voice sticking out
that you’re like, “What is a big fat lady doing singing with these little boys?
That’s weird.” Actually, it’s another boy that shouldn’t be singing. And that’s
what drags this album down from being something that’s actually legit.
Worst Track: #5. Lo,
How a Rose E’er Blooming
Not only on this album do you get an unfortunate “solo” from
a prepubescent William Baumann, but the harmonies are awful, and this the
biggest offender of some a balls-dropper in a sea of balls-uppers (you can here
it at second 15 where the voice trembles, ewck)
One word ““ terrifying.
The first random compilation album on this list that knows
that it should be bad, but doesn’t know that it’s as bad as it really is.
I mean, some people probably think Dean Martin’s rendition
of “Winter Wonderland” on here is pretty good. And those people have probably
had too much eggnog.
And some folks might find Sergio Mendes’ Spanish-ish version
of “The Christmas Song” to be enjoyable. Those folks are dead wrong.
For some reason, the people that compile these strange
albums feel like they need to put a fair share of bad electric organ music,
(YOU CAN’T ESCAPE IT!) here brought you in the form of “Rockin’ Around the
Christmas Tree” by Marlowe Morris, to songs that you just don’t even why they
exist “cause someone somewhere must have thought it was a good idea, which here
is “It Happened in Sun Valley” by the Randy Van Horne Singers (this song gives
me nightmares. SO PERKY), and finally to the songs that are so bad that they
are actually kinda good, like Louis Prima and Keely Smith’s “Shake Hands with
But the album is terrible, don’t worry.
Worst Track: #8. Snow
““ by Claudine Longet
The sad thing about this song is that it’s trying really
hard to be heartfelt and soothing. Instead, it’s a gag-a-minute laugh-fest at
the horrendous lyrics and frustrating accent by our lovely Miss Longet. I mean,
she sounds like a Muppet on crack. Who says the word “memory” like that?
6. NBC Celebrity
Apparently NBC couldn’t pay any of their “celebrities”
enough to actually put their faces on the cover of the album. Maybe because
they’re too embarrassed by how bad this is and can’t believe that they actually
signed on to do this”¦
Created to help benefit the Children’s Miracle Network and
the Peacock itself, the NBC Celebrity
Christmasalbum is something out of the book of “Huh?” that most would like
to even forget existed. What we have here are several mediocre renditions of
holiday classics that really have no point in existing in the first place.
I mean, we all know that “Santa Baby” is Eartha Kitt’s jam
and if anyone else were to do it ever, it should either be a Gay Man’s Chorus
or a Drag Queen Ensemble for the joke to still work. But here we have Wendie
Malick (who is that?) from “Just Shoot Me” sounding bored out of her mind while
trying to get through this song. Seriously, someone, just shoot her already.
Everyone else on the album either sounds just as bored as
Ms. Malick or is taking the album waaaaaaaaaay too seriously. Such is the case
with “Will & Grace’s” Sean Hayes singing “The Christmas Song” and
co-founder of the Children’s Miracle Network herself, Marie Osmond singing “O
Holy Night.” If these folks were actually taking this seriously, could they not
at least appear on that boring cover?
Also, if Jay Leno’s voice wasn’t annoying enough, you’ve got
him narrating all of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” as the last track on
the album. Now talk about overkill. Sheesh.
Worst Track: #10.
Wonderful Christmastime ““ by Martin Sheen, John Spencer & Stockard Channing
As if this song couldn’t get any worse”¦ Now, I love all the
people who sing this song because they were all in my favorite TV show of all
time, “The West Wing.” But that doesn’t make this track any less horrendous.
Whoever’s great idea to have John Spencer “sing” lead on this song was smoking
something amazing on that day. None of these people can sing and I guess that
they just thought he was the best of them, which is scary to think about. But
seriously, this song is whack.
5. Christmas Cocktails
Not terrible. Though it took me forever to figure out that
the little reindeer on the side was a cocktail shaker. I mean, I get it because
of the title and everything (ha ha, very funny) but being someone not prone to
a lot of cocktail shakers in my time, I was just left confused.
The other random compilation album from my parents’
collection (there was also “Christmas Cocktails Pt. 2″ that I couldn’t bring
myself to listen to). And I’m pretty sure this album was put together by the
same people who put together “Yulesville.” But this was their earlier attempt
and the result was an album that has a few actual decent tracks ““ Kay Starr
with “The Man with the Bag” and Nat King Cole with “The Christmas Song” ““ but
their inclusion just makes the whole album even more confusing. If the makers
of this CD knew what makes a good Christmas song, then why just throw them in
randomly with all these weird and terrible tracks?
I mean, even starting with the first track of Alvin Stoller
doing “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” that starts with Mr. Stoller (I’m
guessing) yelling all the reindeers’ names at us in a manic and terrifying
voice, the album is just weird as ever.
Just in case you didn’t have enough organ in your life, this
record brings us many a great classic such as “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa
Claus/Jingle Bells Bossa Nova” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town/White
Christmas” on the Wurlitzer for us. Apparently Christmas organ songs can’t be
just a single song?
In the end, you’re left wondering why you decided to spend
an hour and eleven minutes of your life listening to this when you could have
been doing something insanely more productive instead.
Worst Track: #19. I
Bought You Violets ““ Renzo Cesana
Okay”¦. WTF. This track isn’t listed on the back cover so I
assume it’s a bonus track (there are two other songs after this one as well
that aren’t listed). But this song”¦ It’s not even a song. It’s just this man
talking in his French(?) accent with the Wurlitzer (AGAIN?!?!?) in the
background. And I’m not kidding, he sounds like a serial rapist. Also, ten
points to whoever can tell me exactly what he bought you violets for? Furs?
Ders? Purrs? I give up.
4. Merry Christmas
from the Beach Boys
Artist: The Beach Boys
This looks like a Christmas card from a gay family gone
wrong. Why do all of their sweaters have that terrible “V” on them in another
color? If two of them get the same sweater, than why not everyone? And someone
please tell me what is troubling the young fellow on the bottom left who
seemingly looks awe-struck or in mid-poop. I don’t know about you, but I’d be
terrified to come across any of these guys in a dark alley, or around a
The Beach Boys are wonderful, but whoever told them that a
Beach Boys Christmas Album was a good idea, needs to go outback and just wait
in line with the chickens for the axe. Track after track is more painful than
the last. Why? Because of what usually makes them so singularly great ““ their
Beach Boys harmonies are usually a treat; everyone knows
that “Good Vibrations” is a masterpiece. But what makes their harmonies so
wonderful is that they can get away with doing them so quickly and fluidly.
Here we must endure painfully slow renditions of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
and “White Christmas” that makes you want to call Michael Madsen out to go all
“Reservoir Dogs” on you.
Even the solo rendition of Elvis’s “Blue Christmas” sounds
just enough off-key that you wonder who was mixing this to begin with.
The only breaks that you get with the album is that it’s
only (thankfully) 9 tracks long and you get “Little St. Nick” and the
weirdly-titled but fast paced “Santa’s Beard.” But besides that, skip it.
Worst Track. #2. We
Three Kings of Orient Are
The epitome of sacrilegious. The baby Jesus is squirming in his cradle.
3. Lamp Chop’s
Artist: Shari Lewis
You know when spouses start looking like each other or
owners start resembling their dogs? Well”¦ Shari and Lamb Chop are both
curly-haired”¦ Also, I didn’t know lambs could do ballet”¦
There are some ventriloquists who work best on radio (Edgar
Bergen and Charlie McCarthy) and then there are some that are so talented that
they should be seen, such as Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop. But instead here what
we have is Shari and Lamp Chop telling us the story of the Nutcracker in
between terrible jokes and perkiness that just makes you tired.
The whole “concept” of the album is that Shari and Lamb Chop
have tickets to the see “The Nutcracker Suite” but Lamp Chop has a cold so they
can’t go. Whining, Lamb Chop insists that she much see “The Nutcracker” and
Shari comes up with a solution ““ she’ll tell Lamb Chop the story of “The
Nutcracker” and Lamp Chop can just imagine the whole thing and it’ll be like
the same thing.
Obviously Lamp Chop is stupid and gullible.
But this isn’t the worst part of this album. The worst part
is when there’s a musical cue from the ballet and Shari and Lamb Chop break
into a duet of singing along to the music with lyrics.
Yes, someone (Lan O’Kun according to the liner notes) had
the gall to write lyrics to Tchaikovsky’s music. It’s like a “Weird Al” album
gone wrong. Such lyrics include Lamb Chop singing that the Sugar Plum Fairy has
a mustache and then backing it up because it’s her imagination so she can do
whatever she wants.
Worst Track: #1. Part
The CD is comprised only of two tracks ““ Part One and Part
Two ““ that end up totaling an hour of your precious time. I chose Part One as
the worse of the two offenders because you have to endure all the set up of the
idea for the album and get through Lamp Chop understanding what she’s doing
before you can just sit back and “enjoy” the album. Because by the time you get
to Part Two, there’s no turning back.
2. Christmas on the
Artist: the cast of “Bonanza”
Oh hi, didn’t see you there. We were just decorating the
tree”¦ Now we see what the Beach Boys modeled their album cover from.
If you’re like me, you’ve never seen “Bonanza,” so this
album is even more of an anomaly. So why Hoss, Adam, Pa, and Little Joe have
all decided to enjoy Christmas together with each other is even stranger than
why there even is a Hoss, Adam, Ben, and Little Joe to begin with.
Obviously this album would make more sense to me if I
actually had any background knowledge about these characters. But I don’t have
to understand the “background story” that goes on in between each track to
understand that some of these recordings are some of the sorriest excuses for
Christmas songs that I’ve ever heard.
One of my personal favorite Christmas songs that doesn’t get
enough play is on this album, “Christmas is A-Coming,” and here it’s
deteriorated to be a hokey hee-haw of a song instead of the fun Christmas round
that it can be. Though it does give us the only intellectual part of the album
when Pa says, “If you’d rather me not to sing at all then God bless you.”
In the end, you wonder who told these men that they should
sing? Because they were verywrong.
Worst Track: #2. Deck
There are a few things that never should exist. And one of
them is this recording. Why, God, why?
1. The Complete
Columbia Christmas Recordings
Artist: Gene Autry
Year: 1950-1956, 2004
A simple smile, a simple microphone, a simple cowboy hat, a
simple little handkerchief tie. And yet”¦ I’m chilled to the bone.
Gene Autry had two huge Christmas hits ““ “Here Comes Santa
Claus” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” But I bet you didn’t know he had
25 other Christmas songs that he was just sure one of which would have been
just as big of a hit.
He was wrong.
Why? Well, maybe because his two hits were actually coherent
songs because the rest of his Christmas tunes leave you scratching your head
wondering what you just listened to. For example, a song entitled “He’s a
Chubby Little Fellow” just tells us all the attributes of Santa’s appearance,
but precedes each by telling us that he’s a chubby little fellow”¦ We got it.
In “Santa, Santa, Santa” whenever Mr. Autry wants to refer
to the chubby little fellow by name, he has to say his name three times. Or he’ll
die or something.
I guess then he felt bad for kind of throwing the other
eight reindeer under the sleigh with “Rudolph” so we got another whole song
about Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and the gang entitled “Thirty-Two Feet ““ Eight
Little Tails.” Why has no one else written a song about these reindeer? Because
they’re boring. Apparently the only interesting aspects about them are their
feet and tails.
When that didn’t work, Mr. Autry tried to capitalize and
create other singular Christmas characters in songs by introducing the world to
“Poppy the Puppy” and “Freddie, the Little Fir Tree.” I bet you didn’t know
Santa had a puppy that helped him deliver toys, did you? Neither did anyone
else. And I guess that Freddie the Fir Tree didn’t catch on since the idea of a
tree being made fun of for being too small to be a Christmas tree finally being
taken home to be decorated can only work if he’s cut down by an axe-man.
Basically killing him, but at least he’s happy. So a mercy-killing. What a
Worst Track: #9. (Hard
Rock, Coco, and Joe) The Three Little Dwarves
Again with some singular characters here, Mr. Autry
introduces us to Hard Rock, Coco, and Joe ““ three elves that Santa takes along
with him when he goes off to deliver gifts. We even get to hear the voices of
the elves: Hard Rock is the man of the group with a deep heavy voice, Coco
sounds like the acne-riddled teen elf just going through puberty, and Joe is
the small child elf. The thing about this song is that it’s a little
disturbing. Mr. Autry tells us right at the beginning that we’re going to hear
a song that’s fantastic and queer and then proceeds to go through the jobs that
each elf has. But when he gets to Joe he says, “Santa really has no need for Joe,
but takes him “cause he loves him so.” Oh! Santa likes little boy elves. Got
it. Thanks, Gene! (go to second 24 to hear the song)