As Christmas draws wonderfully, tantalizingly close, the sounds of the holiday season may start to grate on you: in the shopping mall, in the grocery store, in your car. Don’t you wish you could have a bit of variety? Don’t you wish you could escape that looped track of “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”?
Never fear! Here are a few obscure Christmas albums and websites to spice up the seasonal drudgery that is Sir Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime,” played ad nauseum on your local radio station.
A Christmas Together, John Denver & the Muppets : Sing along to classic Christmas standards with your favorite furry friends. Recorded in 1979 for the Muppet television special of the same name, A Christmas Together pairs John Denver’s endearing simplicity with the madcap humor of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt and the rest of the Muppet performers. Who doesn’t want to hear Miss Piggy try (and fail) to lead a round of “Christmas Is Coming,” or Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem rock out to the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick”? (Spoiler: Animal yelling “Run run reindeer!” in the background is priceless.) The album has its poignant moments too: Robin crooning “When The River Meets The Sea” is perfect for snuggling with little ones by the fire.
More Twisted Christmas, Bob Rivers : One of the most irreverent parody singers all year round is at his best at Christmas. Bob Rivers’ album is composed entirely of wittily-parodied holiday tunes, including “Yellow Snow! Yellow Snow! Yellow Snow!” (Let It Snow), “Police Stop My Car” (Feliz Navidad), and the epic “Buttcracker Suite.” As a sampler of the lyrics you’ll get, the aforementioned Buttcracker Suite opens with “Thong! What a delightful gift idea / Thong! Magical shorts that disappear.” A great album for linguists, punny people, and anyone who likes classic rock, More Twisted Christmas will make it hard to breathe for laughing.
Note: Although I love this album, I can’t recommend Bob Rivers’ other Christmas compilations, including Twisted Christmas and Chipmunks Roasting On An Open Fire. The songs can be vulgar and almost racist.
A Rosie Christmas, various artists : This star-studded album by former talk show host Rosie O’Donnell is great fun for the whole family. The tunes are perky and filled with Rosie”s trademark enthusiasm. Each features an appearance from performers both young and old, from Sir Elton John, Celine Dion, Billy Joel and Cher to Elmo and Angelica Pickles. “Gonna Eat For Christmas,” with Gloria Estefan, is a sassy song that will resonate with all those slaving away in the kitchen this holiday season.
Last.fm Christmas tag radio : This station on Last.fm, one of the leading free listening music sites now coming into vogue, plays a wide variety of holiday favorites non-stop with few repeats. Artists range from Bing Crosby and Eartha Kitt to Jethro Tull and Mariah Carey, with some Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Weird Al Yankovic thrown in there too. The site requires you to create a (free) profile to listen in, but the great mix of old and new tunes you get makes it well worth it.
Finally, for those of you with a penchant for overdone 80s pop ballads, there is Last-Christmas.com, which catalogs every recording ever made of Wham!’s seasonal hit. If you don’t know all the words by heart already, I guarantee you will soon.