Christmas albums are the cheesiest of all cheese, the sweetest of all feel-good pop; timeless, relentless, inescapable and terrifying. Out there, lurking in the depths of obscurity and forgotten supermarket £1 CD bins, are some very odd Christmas albums. Some are cornier than you ever thought was humanly possible, others are simply shit. So, gather around children and brace yourself for some new festive earworms to add to your seasonal playlists.
Snoop Dogg — Snoop Dogg Presents Christmas in tha Dogg House
Weirdly good. Despite a few uncomfortable — or at least un-Christmasy — references to “marijuana reindeers” and “Baby Mama’s talkin’ shit,” Snoop and his collaborators manage to create a very realistic stab at Christmas music — presuming you are a gangster and/or pimp. Telling tales of how hard it is out here for a pimp while sledging through thick R&B grooves, I can guarantee no one has ever manoeuvred around festive jingles like this.
Overall, the record is oddly endearing and will undoubtedly leaving you feeling “way too cool to be sliding down the chimney”. Though he’s fast approaching 50 (yup), Snoop is guaranteed to be jamming in the hood for years to come, and this album simultaneously reminds us of the ceaseless joy of Christmas, and the imperishable pleasure of Snoop Dogg. The perfect soundtrack to wish someone a trippy Christmas. (It’s bad.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — We Wish You a Turtle Christmas musical
Worst Christmas special ever. For those who grew up watching the teenage terrapins, this release was a dagger — or Raphael-sai – straight to the heart. It’s the Father Christmas-isn’t-real betrayal all over again. The pesky turtles — quite impressively — took some of the catchiest jingles out there and turned them into something you will spend the entire Christmas period drinking heavily just to forget. Listening to their squeaky vocalisations is the only time I have felt uncomfortable about their turtle power; it took a butchered version of Deck The Halls to make me really question why the fuck I spent so much of my childhood watching four mutated turtles who were taught ninja skills by an oversized sewer rat, talk about pizza. They don’t ease you into the madness either. Within the first few minutes, Leonardo starts to sing in a fake Jamaican accent and this is later topped by Michelangelo — noted “party dude” — breaking into an operatic warble.
The release caused a global uneasiness as fans listened to the Turtles struggle through Christmas songs — largely about themselves — for an entire twenty five minutes. As well as ruining Christmas for anyone who listens to its entirety, We Wish You a Turtle Christmas also left listeners with many unanswered questions. Why couldn’t notorious team leader Leonardo work out how to put up Christmas lights? How did the turtle’s Wrap Rap not destroy the burgeoning Nineties hip-hop scene? Why weren’t Partners in Kryme involved? And what exactly do you get a mutant rat ninja for Christmas?
David Hasselhoff — The Night Before Christmas
It seems completely natural that The Hoff would release a Christmas album, and anyone going into this thing sceptical need only listen to the first 90 seconds to be reassured of his musical prowess. After all, this is the man who effectively sang down the Berlin Wall! Hasselhoff’s voice approaches like fingers up the spine, reciting the traditional poem Twas The Night Before Christmas with such delicate intimacy it is almost as if he is literally whispering it into your ear, whilst staring into your eyes and, quite possibly, consuming your soul. You cannot knock the production; The Hoff is nought if not a pro. Amidst the synthesised jingles and copious servings of false hope, Hoff’s fa-la-las seem destined to find their way into your Christmas nightmares.
Feliz Navidad is a perfect example of how Hoff can bypass the conventional and enter the totally bizarre. Caribbean vibes overwhelm the senses until suddenly you’re transported to the deck of a past-its-best cruise liner, Pina Colada in hand, the Hoff himself on stage nearby. Hoff — the lunatic — then goes straight into We Wish You A Merry Christmas; a modernised take on a festive classic, complete with a choir and a heartfelt message at the end from Hoff himself. Overall, the album has the feel of an over-the-hill celebrity trying to “give back” to the masses, or find a hobby that doesn’t involve running on a beach semi-naked.
William Hung — Hung for the Holidays
American Idol couldn’t stop him, the internet couldn’t stop him, but now Hung is stopping for Christmas. Hung for the Holidays goes past ironic appreciation and enters the realm of unbashful exploitation. Hung addresses the listeners directly on three tracks. Greeting: Thanks & Wishes gives thanks to the listener for picking up the CD, Greeting: Holiday Reminder reminds the listener to give back to the community, and Greeting: Hopes & Dreams, wishes the listener success and fulfilment of dreams. Earnest enough to break hearts and derail all jokes at his expense, Hung’s sincerity is sold as a Christmas novelty by producers who want to cash in on a well-meaning man singing extremely badly.
However, the album does produce an unwavering hilarity — take the hidden cover of Queen’s We Are The Champions for example, which sneaks on for the finale. Hung stays strong to the bitter end; simultaneously inspiring and destroying all musical dreams.
Ringo Starr — I want to be Santa Claus
This boldly named record is either a cynical cash-grab to pay off some long overdue tax bill or a genuine attempt at creative expression — we just can’t tell. Come on Christmas, Christmas Come On has been likened to the stylings of Gary Glitter, which isn’t exactly great company to be in. But aside from that awkwardness, Ringo also partakes in some just-about-listenable Christmas crooning of a few all-time classics.
Did he believe back in 1999 that this record was a solid new take on Classic Christmas pop? Perhaps. Is it too sad to be laughing at? You be the judge. As the other members of the Beatles grew out of their posey public image, it seems Ringo Starr still felt the need to prove himself, and step out of the shadow of the Fab Four and the Christmas hits by both Lennon and McCartney, and become the one true Christmas Beatle.
He failed, but he was the narrator in Thomas the Tank Engine, so who is the real winner?
Regis Philbin — ‘The Regis Philbin Christmas Album – 2005 (featuring Donald J Trump)’
Regis Philbin must be one of the most sleazy crooner stars there is. Songs like Marshmallow World pretty much sum up Christmas as an American exploration of excess and capitalism. But really, the main reason for this album being at the very bottom of the list is because it has Donald Trump on it. ‘Nuff said.
And finally, because you have been so good this year, a gift.
The Klezmonauts — Oy To The World — A Klezmer Christmas
Nothing screams Christmas more than The Klezmonauts. Oy To The World was born from creative genius Paul Libman, who created The Klezmonauts as a musical marriage between Christian and Jewish music. The result is a fantastic display of total mayhem that is not as easy to make fun of as you would presume. Jingle Bells is sung in Yiddish, while other traditional Christmas tunes such as Deck the Halls and The Little Drummer Boy offer samples from a spectrum of sources, including The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; James Brown; and surf culture tracks.
Each track is as confusing as the next, with madness-inducing tempo and key changes that will get you unreasonably hyped up for Christmas Day. Santa Gey Gezunderheit works in ways it shouldn’t, resulting in an extremely catchy and joyful ode to Christmas.