Here's To You and Your Wassail, Too
A few suggestions for atypical Christmas music
By Jessica Cassyle Carr
Christmas music is one of the biggest mysteries of the universe. Some of us, maybe even most of us, think it was specially designed to drive us over the edge during a vulnerable time of year. But according to the laws of capitalism, millions and millions love this smut. Otherwise, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra wouldn't return each year, and every high-profile recording artist wouldn't have lent their own spin to holiday songs.
Fortunately, and despite the Christian Coalition, some brave souls have created out-of-the-ordinary variations on the music, some going even further to make downright affronts to the entire institution of Christmas. Here is some of the best I could find.
Esquivel Merry Xmas From the Space-Age Bachelor Pad (Bar/None)
The title says it all. This bizarre yet easy-listening orchestration of classic holiday songs will go nicely with your holiday highball.
Rod McKuen New Carols for Christmas: The Rod McKuen Christmas Album (Laserlight)
Look at that cozy little pussycat on the album. Wouldn't you like to cuddle up to Rod McKuen, too? I would, and with his Christmas album, I can! I can't really describe the pure awesomeness of this best-selling poet, but let me try. Imagine it's 2 a.m., and you and your lover have imbibed a healthy amount of holiday cheer. Rod McKuen is gingerly imparting his wisdom in the background, saying crazy things like, "I remember a Christmas tree, and a there was a match, and I would say, ’I love you,' but saying I love you would be like saying, ’I love peanut butter.'" He didn't really say that, at least not all together. But his ideas, put to soaring string arrangements, and here, to familiar Christmas melodies, should move you to hilarious lovemaking or interpretive dance.
Various Artists Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Christmas (Rhino)
This album contains the Pretenders' "2000 Miles," "Christmas Day" by Squeeze and the uncomfortable "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy" duet between David Bowie and Bing Crosby. However, it's mixed in with an assortment of rarer tracks like "Rudolf the Manic Reindeer" by Los Lobos, Wall of Voodoo's "Shouldn't Have Given Him a Gun for Christmas" and "Santa's Beard" by They Might Be Giants.
Various Artists You Sleigh Me: Alternative Christmas Hits (Polygram)
Yuck! Amongst those performing honest renditions of Christmas songs are Collective Soul, Everything But the Girl and (shudder) Tori Amos. I don't know if this is antagonistic to Christmas because of the "alternative" interpretation, or because it's my worst Christmas music nightmare.
Various Artists A Very Milky Christmas (Milk)
Joy to the world, we have ironic Christmas songs by Alkaline Trio, The Promise Ring and Dismemberment Plan. While it's not here, I feel obliged to mention what is possibly my favorite holiday song, "Ice of Boston," by the latter. It comes complete with pouring-
The Vandals Christmas with the Vandals: Oi! to the World (Kung Fu)
Rather than describe 2002's Christmas with the Vandals: Oi! to the World, listing the songs will give you a better feel for what it's like: "A Gun for Christmas," "Grandpa's Last Xmas," "Thanx for Nothing," "Oi To The World," "Nothing's Going to Ruin My Holiday," "Christmas Time for My Penis," "I Don't Believe in Santa Claus," "My First Xmas, as a Woman," "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies," "Here I Am Lord," "C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S" and "Hang Myself from the Tree."
Get into the spirit of the season with these three highly offensive tunes.
Insane Clown Posse “Santa's a Fat Bitch”
This song reveals the incredible hostility and homicidal urges that ICP feels toward Santa. If you dig deeper, however, the song reveals the material deprivation of the poor made all the more apparent in consumerism's premier season.
Cheech and Chong “Santa Claus and His Old Lady”
Leave it to Cheech and Chong to tarnish Santa's good name with illicit substances.
Weird Al Yankovic “Christmas at Ground Zero”
This song paints a picture of a yuletide nuclear apocalypse and promises that we will see the mutations by New Year. The video shows Weird Al hobnobbing around with splices of old footage of the bomb and other scary artillery explosions.
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-