It’s that time of year again! You know, the one where we continue to hear ridiculous holiday tunes everywhere we go whether we like it or not. Ah, Christmas music. I love it, really. Even the annoying ones. There are a few exceptions, of course, but by and large I’m usually pretty excited to hear nonstop holiday tunes from December 1 on through… well, whenever I get sick of them. Maybe Christmas Day. Maybe January. Maybe March.
Last year’s Absurd Holiday Special will be tough to beat, mostly because I chose some of my most favorite absurd songs for it, but it just wouldn’t be the holidays without a playlist from yours truly, so I will endeavor to do my best in selecting only the most primo absurdities for your enjoyment this holiday season, which as usual range from silly to serious to I’ll let you make your own decision. I know, what would you do without me?
Get your damn mistletoe and your cider. We’re getting on with the good stuff.
OVERTURE: “Christmastown” — Elf The Musical
Surprise!!! Did you know that the modern classic film Elf was a Broadway musical? It’s a bit of a weird one since it’s only had limited holiday runs, but it’s got some absolutely great music, including this intro song that brings us right into the musical version with a little ditty that’s not too far off thematically from The Book Of Mormon. The best part is that this is actually a Christmas song from a musical, unlike some showtunes that will not be named that have absolutely nothing to do with the holiday still looking at you, Sound of Music. It’s cheery, it’s happy, it sets the scene, and it makes for a GREAT overture.
Act I: “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” – Reel Big Fish
Wow, okay, boy howdy do I normally hate this song, but it’s just not the holidays without an unnecessary ska cover! So why not turn to the king of all ska bands (as according to people who remembered that one song from the ’90s that one time) for a cover that… really, strangely works in a bizarre way. The song is already strange in the first place since it’s so upbeat and yet so depressing (I mean, someone’s grandmother is literally dead in this scenario? How is this a classic?) but you know, everything is better with ska attached to it. Listen to those repetitive guitar riffs, get out your checkerboard pants, and get into the spirit of the season!
ACT II: “Elf’s Lament” – Barenaked Ladies feat. Michael Bublé
When you think “Michael Bublé” and “Christmas” you probably think of his Sinatra-esque covers of classics, right? No. The best Mcihael Bublé song is actually a Barenaked Ladies song (we’re just doing all kinds of 90s throwback today, aren’t we?) that’s a little too appropriate for a song that came out… actually, you know what, let’s not talk about how old this song is. It raises some excellent, very important points though—if the elves are making all these toys, are they getting paid fair wages? Do they have suitable working conditions? Clearly not, according to at least one elf. We should really be looking into this. Does OSHA’s territory extend to the North Pole? It’s a weird contrast to Elf – The Musical up in our overture, but it’s fine. This is also my second year picking a Barenaked Ladies song but 1. this is my blog and 2. this album is a classic, so.
ACT III: “A Willie Nice Christmas” – Kacey Musgraves feat. Willie Nelson
It’s kind of a rite of passage to come out with your own Christmas album, especially if you’re a country artist, so it kind of makes sense that Kacey Musgraves put out “A Very Kacey Christmas” this year. Among other great tracks, though, is this gem with Willie Nelson that fills a very particular niche of giving us a Christmas song for stoners AND a brand new song that already sounds like a classic. It’s adorable, it’s catchy, and Kacey and Willie hope that you stay higher than the top of the tree this holiday which is, I guess, a Christmas wish that everyone who’s ever experienced a frustrating, far from “merry and bright” holiday can get behind.
ACT IV: “Latke Recipe” – The Maccabeats
Listen fam it would NOT BE HANUKKAH without a song by The Maccabeats, and I will continue to include them on every holiday special until the end of time. Which is, coincidentally, how long it’s going to take you to get this Maccabeats cover out of your head. Set to the tune of “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk The Moon, our favorite Jewish boys take us through the process of making latkes… more or less. Let me tell you, though, I have made latkes. They are not easy. They make it seem nice and simple with the catchy tune but, no. There was a lot of yelling, possibly a grease fire, I don’t know, it was fine. Maybe if I had this song to listen to so that I knew not to burn my hand or something it wouldn’t be okay. Anyway, this is gonna be stuck in my head for the rest of the holiday season, so you’re all welcome for that gift I’m sharing with you.
ACT V: “8 Days of Christmas” – Destiny’s Child
You KNOW WHAT let’s just go ALL IN WITH THE THROWBACK today. This video is everything, if you can get over how low quality everything was in 2001. (How did we live like that?) It has BEANIE BABIES. It has CROPPED VELOUR SANTA SUITS. It has BUBBLES. Really, what’s not to love. I’m not sure why they’re trying to get with dudes in a store, or what kind of store has a carousel in it, but it’s whatever. Most importantly this song is a fantastic rewrite of the original repetitive “12 Days of Christmas” with things we might actually want, including fashion requests that are so out of date that they’re in style again. Though I do have to wonder if the ladies of Destiny’s Child got sick of repeating “Doesn’t it feel like Christmas?” a thousand times there while being surrounded by actual children.
Finale: “We Three Kings” – Leon Russell
Another artist that came up last year, Leon Russell’s bizarre orchestrated Christmas album will forever be one of my favorites, but it’s extra sad this year since he was one of the many… many celebrities claimed by the wrath of The Year 2016. This album is forever going to be so bizarre to me, between Leon Russell’s majestic beard, the weird synth moments, and the apparent lack of decent cover design that is terrible even by 1995 standards, but now I listen to it knowing that dear Leon Russell is no longer with us. Rest in peace, dear Wizard of Christmas. Your spirit lives on through your strange, bizarre holiday album now and forevermore.
This concludes this year’s Absurd Holiday Special, and I hope you had fun or found some new favorites! I invite you all to share your favorite obscure or eclectic Christmas, Hanukkah, or Winter songs in the comments. I would love to hear them, and especially would love to hear if you’ve found something really, truly bizarre or that’s just so good you can’t contain yourself. And be sure to let me know which songs on this list you enjoyed, too!
Now go forth and be merry!