Christmas time is here again, time for laughter, time for gin. If only that were how the lyrics to that song actually went, the holidays would be a lot more merry. At any rate, as you have no doubt already become aware, Christmas brings with it many obligations to buy gifts. And all that shopping brings you into close contact with any number of classic, terrible Christmas songs. But is “Wonderful Christmas Time” really as awful as it seems? Here at Flavorpill, we have taken it upon ourselves to find ten holiday albums so terrible they’ll make you appreciate “Last Christmas” for the gem that it truly is — at least, by comparison.
Keith Sweat — A Christmas of Love
There is almost nothing more uncomfortable than an overtly sexy Christmas. Sure, who doesn’t get drunk at the company party and maybe French someone they shouldn’t? But when your lead single is about getting it on like Santa Claus would, you are in trouble. Christmastime is the time for love. Not sexual harassment. When your second single starts “One, two, three, and to the four/Christmastime and we down for sure,” followed by, “Let’s have a party baby ‘cos it’s Christmastime,” then you know you have not written something that will play in department stores over the holidays. Keith Sweat is awesome, but he couldn’t find a classic Christmas jam if Dr. Luke wrote it for him and put Ke$ha on the chorus. He is simply too sexy for Christ.
Lynyrd Skynyrd — Christmas Time Again
The title of this album is exactly the perfect description of the album — as in, “Oh, sweet Jesus, is it Christmas time again?” Followed by an exasperated sigh. It has all the God-awful originals you could imagine and all the classics you (don’t) need, all done in that distinct Skynyrd style for your down-home Christmas, if that’s what you want. The appeal of a backwoods Christmas has fueled many a classic rock/country Christmas album, but the really weird, totally unexpected thing here is their straight up-and-down version of “Greensleeves” that appears to be done completely traditionally. How the hell did that happen?
Straight No Chaser — Christmas Cheers
Let’s just sum this one up quickly: a cappella, all-male singing group (hello The Warblers, if you’re a Gleek!) sing Christmas favorites but add a little something special. They ad lib “clever” additions. “Let It Snow” gets reset to beat boxing. “We Three Kings” becomes a spy movie theme song. And “The 12 Days of Christmas” go on for at least three months. You just know these guys would be making uncomfortable eye contact and over-emoting while they sang if you had to actually stand in the same room and watch them perform. Albums like this are why they say drinking increases over the holidays.
New Kids on the Block — Merry Merry Christmas
It almost seems too easy to pick on New Kids on the Block, especially now that they’re reunited and it feels so sad for all the ladies who just have to recapture their misspent 1989 and go see them. However, this is truly a lamentable Christmas album. Their work on “Little Drummer Boy” is as good as any boy band’s could possibly be. It is the horrid, original Christmas songs that transform this album into a pile of steaming reindeer poop. And there are so many of them! Who could forget the classic “Funky, Funky Xmas?” Or “I’ll Be Missin You Come Christmas (A Letter To Santa)”? Songs like these are why sappy crap like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” get to be standards: they prove it truly could be so much worse.
Jethro Tull — Christmas Album
Cue the announcer: “And now, from the band who brought you ‘Aqualung’…” Yeah no, no one needs a Jethro Tull Christmas.
Jessica Simpson — Happy Christmas
Jessica Simpson’s 2010 Christmas offering is so bad that you will instantly feel the urge to turn it down, until the sound is completely off. The worst offense on it (aside from the original sin, in which someone told Jessica Simpson she could sing well) is that she roped her Dukes of Hazzard co-star Willie Nelson into a duet on a truly sub-par, countrified holiday duet of embarrassment. Second worse is when she butchers “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by giving it the deeply sincere, breathy-ingenue singing treatment. She basically sings the whole album like she’s making sexy lip synching face in the studio. You can totally save that for the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, Jess.
Crazy Frog — Last Christmas EP
Imagine a dance-beat ringtone of Wham!’s classic “Last Christmas” done in the style of Crazy Frog. Now imagine the club mix. Now imagine the soft mix. Now imagine the happy mix. Now imagine yourself going insane. Merry Christmas!
Afroman — A Colt 45 Christmas
This seems like it could be a great idea at first glance, because who doesn’t want to hear “Deck My Balls”? By the time you get all the way down to “Let Her Blow,” the crafty take-off on “Let It Snow,” the whole “Haha, Christmas is for straight tricks, bro!” façade starts to wear thin. The beats are not especially inventive and neither are the dick jokes. As far as Christmas comedy goes, Afroman is an epic fail.
Oak Ridge Boys — Christmas Cookies
One of the best things about an Oak Ridge Boys song (yes, really!) is their harmonizing. It works incredibly well on the sort of country songs they sing. Think about how “Elvira” goes and how you can hear the guy singing the bass part and how great that works in the song. It does not work especially well on Christmas classics. In fact, it sounds like all four of them are trying to determine who can sing the loudest. When you’re doing Xmas tunes barber shop quartet style, your voices should blend. But in the Oak Ridge Boys, everyone’s a star.
William Hung — Hung for the Holidays
When we told our friends we were writing this article, someone quickly uttered four words we had previously blocked out: William Hung Christmas Album. No one needs to remind you that William Hung is a horrible singer. What makes this album so terrible is the crass commercialism that went into releasing it. In 2004, when Hung was an unexpected American Idol phenomenon, and the joke of the country, Koch Records cashed in and released his album. Just to make sure they’d rung every possible cent out of the Hung sensation, they released a Christmas album, too. And now some smart ass is going to bring it to your holiday party every year to play “as a joke.” Thanks, assholes.