Bah humbug! Your Christmas Album sucks.

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 15th December 2009.

It must be Christmas. In the record shops, a plethora of greatest hits albums now adorn the shelves. Within this week’s top 50 albums, eight are greatest hits compilations. And there are plenty more now available, just in time for Christmas, many of them from artists who are no longer commercially or creatively active, such as Enya, Seal and Fleetwood Mac.

However, it is not just the ever expanding array of Greatest Hits albums that indicate the imminent arrival of Santa. There is a much more insidious threat to your wallet in the record stores each December. Beware of the Christmas album.

Usually recorded to fulfil a contractual obligation, or cash in on fleeting fame, by definition, the Christmas album is only useful for one month a year or so.

With money too tight to mention, here are some Christmas atrocities to avoid.

In 1989, Neighbours was the biggest show on television, both here and in the UK. With Kylie Minogue riding high in the charts with The Loco-Motion the year before, the cast of Neighbours at the time warbling their way through a few carols was going to be a sure-fire hit, right? Wrong. Christmas With Your Neighbours features Anne Charleston (Madge), Ian Smith (Harold), Alan Dale (Jim) and others massacring all your Christmas favourites. It will make you wish for a Silent Night.

Tiny Tim is best known for his ukulele playing and high falsetto which he used to great effect in his 1968 hit Tiptoe Through the Tulips. In 1993, he recorded Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album in Sydney. Backed up by a terrible heavy rock band, Tim rushes through an hour of Christmas standards in 30 minutes with his trademark looney tunes approach. Now a collector’s item, this cd is particularly hard to find on the second hand market, probably because no-one bought it at the time.

Cashing in by following your first (and perhaps only) hit album with a collection of Christmas songs must be one of the golden rules for boy bands  as this is exactly what ‘N Sync, New Kids on the Block and Hanson did. Merry, Merry Christmas by New Kids features the rather tedious original song This One’s for the Children which was obviously referring to their fans. Hanson’s Snowed In bubbles with youthful effervescence. Unfortunately, with this high energy comes very high pitched vocals which mean the album could easily be mistaken for a Christmas record by Alvin and the Chipmunks. And for the record, there have been 8 Chipmunks Christmas albums.

Happy Holidays by Billy Idol was released in 2006. With a stripped back sound, Idol croons his way through such fare as Frosty the Snowman, Silver Bells and, of course, Jingle Bell Rock. Sporting a cheesy grin and a suit and tie on the cover, Billy sets out to confuse his fans, who I’m sure would prefer he wear leather, growl the songs and then punch Santa in the nose.

Other notable Christmas albums to avoid include such dubious fare as A Romantic Christmas by John Tesh (of Entertainment Tonight fame), Christmas by Jim Nabors (of Gomer Pyle fame), These Are Special Times by Celine Dion, This Is The Time by Michael Bolton (of big mullet fame) and Mr Hankey’s Christmas Classics which features carols sung by an animated poo from TV’s South Park.

If you must buy a Christmas CD, may I suggest you purchase the annual Myer Spirit of Christmas album which raises funds for The Salvation Army or Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You which features his famous Wall of Sound and is considered the greatest Yuletide album ever.

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 08:01  Comments (2)  
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