In order to embark on this odyssey of awful, it was necessary to develop categories of bad Christmas music, because there is a lot to cover. I quickly disqualified blatant cash-grabs like Ally McBeal Christmas, which has nothing to do with the TV show other than the title; Christmas with Colonel Sanders, whose content has nothing to do with fried chicken; and the worst offender, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year: an album slapped together by Jimi Hendrix’s estate from old recordings. Also to be disqualified were the awful (but expected) albums by boy bands and tween pop stars.
That leaves the truly awful, so with that in mind, let’s talk about Jingle Cats, a Christmas album with meowing instead of lyrics. People who make it through Jingle Cats’ entirety should either get a medal or a straightjacket. There are three albums in the Jingle Cats’ repertoire: Meowy Christmas, Here Comes Santa Claws, and the non-Christmas-themed Rhythm and Mews. I sincerely wish I was joking. Jingle Cats keeps the integrity of its feline vocalists and leaves the meows undoctored. Unfortunately, without Auto-Tune, the meows don’t totally fit with the actual tones of the songs. This makes an already terrible concept seem sloppy.
In the same category of annoyance is Crazy Frog’s Last Christmas. Technically, this only has one song, so can’t be considered a full album, but for sheer unnecessariness, it doesn’t get much worse. The last time we even thought about Crazy Frog was ten years ago when “Axel F,” the song that sounds like a ringtone, became inexplicably popular. This time the party amphibian we all love to hate throws in a few grating dings in between an actual singer’s mediocre rendition of “Last Christmas.” The sad part is that this song is utterly forgettable when compared to the other songs on this list, so it can’t even annoy properly.
Next up is Christmas on Death Row, the Christmas album featuring artists signed to the iconic rap label Death Row Records, founded by Dr. Dre, Suge Knight and The D.O.C. While a lot of the songs are R&B covers of traditional Christmas songs, the gems on this record are the original songs like “Party 4 Da Homies” and “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto.” As a fan of the genre already, I found Christmas on Death Row thoroughly enjoyable and of great comedic value. Judged alongside the crew’s usual work, the actual music doesn’t have the same production quality, but that clearly isn’t the point. Death Row’s Christmas tunes are surprisingly heartwarming.
David Hasselhoff is not a name anyone expects to be linked to music in general, let alone Christmas music, but apparently Hasselhoff’s five albums warranted both a greatest hits album in 2004 and a best-of album in 2010, although it’s unclear if this was due to actual audience demand or ego. In a shocking twist, Hasselhoff’s voice is actually decent. His low register fits the classic Christmas songs on his album The Night Before Christmas, and the album isn’t that bad, just boring. The worst offender is “Feliz Navidad” which has a section of obvious and terrible Auto-Tune in the middle for no good reason.
Continuing with the trend of has-beens is William Hung with Hung for the Holidays. Back in 2004, William Hung got fifteen minutes of fame when the world became obsessed with his awful American Idol audition where he butchered Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” with enthusiasm. Hung for the Holidays is just sad, because it is clear that Hung doesn’t really understand that the joke’s on him. His singing talent has not improved at all. Whoever gave Hung false hope by letting him near recording equipment should definitely get coal in their stocking.
There are a few country artists who failed at creating some holiday cheer. Conway Twitty’s album A Twismas Story deserves disapproval based on the name alone. Kenny Chesney’s All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan is just as awful as it sounds. The title track features bongos. Enough said.
Keith Sweat’s A Christmas of Love is not an album you want to listen to with your relatives in the room. Sweat’s Christmas songs are all slow sex jams, and have the effect of making you immediately uncomfortable. No one wants to have sex with Santa, and the double entendres will make sure you can never again hear the words “Santa’s coming” the same way again.
Twisted Sister’s A Twisted X-Mas is so far from the band’s brand it’s ridiculous. The rockers have a hard time reconciling the values of a hair band and the values of Christmas. A cover of “Come All Ye Faithful” is followed immediately by a track called “Burn in Hell.” The joyful quality of Christmas music gets lost when every word is screamed.
Ever wondered if the stars of the original Dukes of Hazzard TV show are good singers? Me neither. But I found out: the answer is no. Tom Wopat, who played Luke Duke, and John Schneider, who played Bo Duke, released Home for Christmas just last year, making it the newest album in this list. The former Duke brothers are mediocre singers, and it’s clear the album is more for them than the listeners. The biggest sin they commit with this album is that there are several tracks that are just the two of them chatting about nothing.
The next time you hear an acapella version of “Silent Night” for the twentieth time, keep in mind it could be worse. We wish you happy holidays, hopefully free from these abominations.