Dreaming of a weird Christmas

Strange sounds for your holiday season

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

There are few, if any, corners of American life that remain untouched by the Christmas-Industrial Complex: from food and drink to decor and clothing, there’s a Christmas version of it. So pervasive is the Christmas creep that it carries its own phobia — Christougenniatikophobia — and most notably its own soundtrack. 

Truly, Christmas Music has evolved since the mid-20th century into a sprawling super-genre that engulfs all others, which means there are some profoundly bizarre tunes lurking in obscurity beneath the likes of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole. The following is the merest sampling of weirdo Christmas music discovered with cursory Googling, offered in the spirit of seasonal subversiveness. 

Christopher Lee: A Heavy Metal Christmas

British actor Christopher Lee left behind a vast corpus of screen work when he died in 2015 at the age of 93: from Dracula to The Man With the Golden Gun to The Wickerman to The Lord of the Rings. Perhaps less well known is Lee’s turn as a heavy metal rocker, which he announced to the world with the release of his first full-length record Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross in March 2010 — two months shy of his 88th birthday. Though it might seem strange at first, upon further reflection it makes perfect sense that Lee should make a righteous metalhead. First of all, his iconic baritone with its lordly tremolo is perfect for intoning ominous passages about the “massacre of the Saxons.” Second, his acting career was filled with dark and forbidding roles, frequently with a villainous, supernatural bent. He brings all the fierceness of Sarumon to his 2012 release, A Heavy Metal Christmas, whipping up a hell’s broth of Christmas doom on his version of “The Little Drummer Boy” and a decidedly unquiet rendition of “Silent Night.” Find it — and forever improve your Yuletide playlist — on YouTube or Spotify.

‘Oh, Santa!’ by Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer

Color us abashed for only recently having heard of “Chap-Hop” — a tongue-in-cheek rap form that mingles the dandified aesthetic of Edwardian England with ill rhymes about the many- splendored and multifaceted existence of the chap. Allied with the Yiddish mensch, the British chap is a person of solid quality — from dress and grooming to taste in spirits, high-mindedness and artistic feeling, “a proper chap knows exactly where it’s at.” The standard bearer for this quintessentially Jolly Ol’ genre is Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer, with his impeccable three-piece tweeds and brilliantly constructed lyrical expositions on chap life. Mr.B’s foray into Christmas music poses his punctilious persona against a distinctly un-chap-like Santa Claus, who ventures down the chimney only to slurp up all the port and misuse a carrot intended for Rudolph. As hilarious as it is distasteful, Mr.B’s “Oh, Santa” is one to break out after the Christmas party guests are well into the eggnog. Listen to it, along with more Mr.B selections, on YouTube.

Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album

Not unlike Christmas Music, the Star Wars universe has been on a steady march to infuse itself into all aspects of human life since it precipitated the invention of cultural mass-merchandising in 1977. So it’s only natural that there be a Star Wars Christmas album (as there is of course also a Star Wars Christmas special, which is the worst thing ever put on film in this galaxy or any other). On the 1980 record Christmas in the Stars you’ll find such gems as “The Odds Against Christmas,” featuring a bizarre spoken-word intro by C-3PO, who talks about “Bad King John” and the Magna Carta, the “discovery” of America and the contingent nature of time — specifically, that the “odds against Christmas being Christmas” were 365 (days) to one. Aside from the illogicality of a droid from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” talking about the Magna Carta or America, we have absolutely no idea what’s happening with the central idea of there being “odds” that Christmas is Christmas. The other highlight on the album is the tune “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” in which a children’s chorus sings an ode to the titular astrodroid with Attack of the Clones-worthy lyrics like, “R2-D2 we wish you a merry Christmas/ R2-D2 we love you, it’s true.” Of course, C-3PO interjects with passive-aggressive scolding throughout, and most notably the track features the first-ever recording of the vocal talents of John Bongiovi, a.k.a. John Bon Jovi, who at the time was working as a recording studio janitor. Truth is stranger than space opera. Listen to it (at your peril) on YouTube.

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