The Bizarrest Christmas Albums of 2013

That magical season is upon us again… when all the execrable Christmas albums are released. This year has seen festive albums by middle-of-the-road singers, such as Kelly Clarkson and Martina McBride, but also from artists that you might not expect. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the most unlikely Christmas albums of 2013. Have I listened to any of these records? No, of course not.

The Robertson Family – Duck the Halls

For those who don’t know, the Robertsons are the stars of an American reality TV show called Duck Dynasty. They are a salt-of-the-Earth tribe (they’re the guys in the header image), who made a fortune from duck hunting products, and bought themselves a mansion. Quite why they need their own TV series, let alone a spin-off album, I have no idea. It’s an album of standards, including the odious “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, but there are some new tracks, such as “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas”. That’s soon to be a classic, I’m sure.

Erasure – Snow Globe

You remember Erasure; they were that synth-pop duo that wasn’t the Pet Shop Boys. This is their big comeback album, or perhaps they’ve never been away and no one’s been paying them any attention. Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have described their song arrangements on this record as “subdued”, “stripped-back”, and “minimal”. That just sounds like they weren’t putting much effort in. To be fair, the duo have written a few new songs, so they weren’t completely phoning it in.

Susan Boyle – Home for Christmas

You might think this is an odd album to include on this list, as SuBo (as all the cool kids are calling her) is exactly the kind of person to record some festive favourites, but what’s bizarre about it is one of the songs it features. There’s a supposed “duet” with Elvis Presley. Unless I’m very much mistaken, Elvis died on August 16th 1977, thus making him unavailable for a recording session. Call me an old cynic, but I suspect that this song might just be Boyle caterwauling over an old recording of Presley’s. Doesn’t the word “duet” imply that both participants are willing?

Nick Lowe – Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection for All the Family

As a pub-rock pioneer turned elder statesman of singer-songwriting, Nick Lowe is probably the most well-respected artist on this list. So it’s pretty shocking that he’s released a Christmas record. Apparently, it was at the insistence of his record label. His American record label, that is. Like Erasure, he did write a few new songs, and he describes the album as a “sleigh bell free zone”, so it might not be complete loss. Of all the albums on this list, this is the one I’d be most inclined to listen to. I still won’t, though.

Various Artists – Punk Goes Christmas

Most punks would probably dismiss Christmas as a consumerist, patriarchal sideshow which distracts the masses from their oppression, but it seems that enough punk rockers embraced this Hallmark holiday that this compilation could be cobbled together. You won’t find the Sex Pistols or The Clash among the artists here; New Found Glory was the only artist name I recognised. Talking of punks doing Xmas songs…

Bad Religion – Christmas Songs

Bad Religion are punk rockers from California whose songs, as the band name might suggest, are often critical of religious institutions. Even their logo is a Christian cross overlaid with a “prohibited” symbol. So, why would the band release an album featuring covers of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”? I imagine they just sang the songs in really sarcastic voices and made “tut”-ing noises during the instrumental breaks.

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Call the Midwife – The Christmas Album

Call the Midwife was something of a surprise hit show for the BBC, with viewing figures often topping 10 million. And you know what that means: merchandise. It’s already had one tie-in album, so does it really need another one? Someone seems to think so. Unfortunately, the album doesn’t feature the vocal stylings of its stars, Jessica Raine and Miranda Hart, as it’s simply a compilation album of Xmas hits from the show’s time period. With songs by Andy Williams and Elvis, it proves the fifties was a golden age for music, as well as midwifery.

Tyler Perry – A Madea Christmas

Tyler Perry is probably an unknown figure for most people in the UK, and a perplexing one for most people in his home country, the USA. He writes and directs Christian-themed movies that are aimed at African-American audienced. He also acts in most of his films, always dressed in drag, playing the irascible matriarch Madea. Although dismissed as buffoonery by most commentators, his films remain hugely popular. Featuring seasonal hits from artists such as the Jackson 5, Mariah Carey, and Stevie Wonder, this is the soundtrack to his latest flick. Interesting note: this album was released on the legendary Motown record label. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers – Non-stop Christmas Party Megamix

This Rotherham-based novelty act is famous for having a cartoon rabbit as a figurehead. The group became marginally successful in the late 80s and early 90s by mixing other people’s songs together into irritating medleys, and then sitting back and collecting the cash. After a long hibernation, the bunny is back with a Yuletide mix that might be passable for children. Or idiots.

Kim Wilde – Wilde Winter Songbook

Singer-turned-gardener-turned-singer-again Kim Wilde shows she is bang up to date with modern musical tastes by releasing an album featuring duets with Nik Kershaw and Rick Astley. I thought Astley was out of the music industry for good. I guess Kim sought him out in his ramshackle house in the country, and pleaded with him to get back in the game. “Damn you! How did you find me? I’ve retired,” he must have said, before finally relenting, shaving off his beard, and setting off in Wilde’s Humvee.

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Posted on December 19, 2013, in Misophonic and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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