A Very Cut-Out Christmas

Holiday music ain't cheap, but 'clearance' music can be your savior

I’m a sucker for good holiday music. And by “good” I mean “weird.”

The thing is, the closer the holidays get, the smaller my bank account — and, given the economic crisis, yours too — seems to be. I’ll be making Christmas dinner out of items found at the closest gas station — Spam shaped like a turkey, table-setting made out of squeegees and paper towels, ham-and-cheese Lunchables and the finest bottle of Wild Irish Rose I can find.

If you have dinner at my house Dec. 25, know that the “BP” on the cup you are drinking out of stands for “Bring Presents.” Cash preferred. I’ll send you my bank routing number when you RSVP.

While I have some old Christmas music hanging around the house, I don’t want to rip my guests off by playing the same things as last year. But I don’t exactly have the cash to go out and buy a fresh stack of CDs or even to download something from the Web.

I guess I could steal some music from a file-sharer, but that guy from Metallica has, over the years, made me feel so guilty about “stealing music,” I’d rather hold up a liquor store. Hey, Metallica has to eat, too!

Standing in line at Big Lots last week, buying my favorite off-brand treats for my big X-mas feast (a bag of Two Musketeers bars, a couple of boxes of N&N’s and some expired Hostess cherry fruit-pies, which I will gut, mix with Sprite and call “Crancherry Sauce”), I was struck by a brilliant idea. Next to the cash register stood a slipshod, disheveled display of holiday CDs.

The cut-out bin! Of course! It’s the music industry’s version of the Island of Misfits Toys.

I’ve long been a fan of clearance music in unlikely places. I had a friend who used to raid them, then sell “rare” CDs on eBay to overseas buyers who didn’t know any better. It’s also where you can find the true outcasts of the music world — guys who make bawdy music for truck drivers, sketchy “Greatest Hits” compilations that feature re-recordings of the original hits and any number of bizzaro novelty records.

I hastily grabbed a stack of $4 discs and ran home to make my playlist. The first of my hidden-and-probably-should-remain-that-way gems was a no-brainer. The cover of 13 Days of Christmas: A Romping Redneck Celebration was calling my name, with a little hottie in a leopardskin halter-top standing in front of her festive trailer and telling me, “Come hither, y’all.”

This is the kind of stuff you play to really anger, offend and annoy your guests. In other words, perfect! The level of comedy is right up there with Larry the Cable guy — the first track is “The 12 Redneck Days of Christmas” and it rattles off a laundry list of items the singer’s true love gave to him, including “a ticket to a NASCAR race” and “three coon dogs.” I’m not sure what a “coon dog” is, but after a few swigs from that Wild Irish Rose, I am sure it will have my guests howling with laughter.

In case Bluegrass doesn’t fit the mood, I also grabbed A Cowboy Christmas, 10 tracks of Christmas tunes
by an odd batch of male Country singers, including Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell and Charley Pride. I had Hee-Haw in mind when I grabbed this one, mostly because Roy Clark is on it. Roy does a cheesy “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” that sounds like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” as played by the mechanical band at Chuck E. Cheese. Man, I miss Hee-Haw.

I was also excited to see that Lee Greenwood has other songs besides that awful “God Bless the U.S.A.” one. He totally nails “What Child is This?” and makes me fall in love with America all over again.

While this is less offensive than the “redneck” disc, it’s also not as funny. I may start off with this one, before everyone gets wasted.

Another option is to test everyone’s endurance and loyalty by kicking things off with Totally Awesome Christmas. If we can all make it through Hillary Duff’s ridiculous “Santa Claus (Remix)” (which sounds like how you would imagine Barbie sings), it’ll be a good party.

Totally Awesome (threateningly billed as “Volume 1”) is 12 songs by the latest Pop tarts (though, strangely, Rascal Flatts is on here; those guys are, like, totally old). All of them sound like they were made at one of those amusement park “Record A Song for $5” shops. Jesse McCartney’s “Winter Wonderland” sounds like it was recorded in 10 minutes.

There are better “Music for Karaoke” CDs than this. I’d make fun of Allana Lohan’s “Rockin’ Around the
Christmas Tree” (which is about as far away from “rockin’ as you can get), but she sounds like she’s 6-years-old. So I’ll just say … good job, sweetie, Aren’t you just adorable.

All together, it may not be the best holiday playlist ever. But it’ll do in a pinch. I’m looking at it this way: At least I’ll have coasters.

Scroll to read more Music Feature articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.