Cover Story: Defining New Standards

Christmas chestnuts getting stale? Try making these quirky offerings your new holiday classics


Christmas is, of course, a time of tradition. And along with tinseled trees, stuffed turkeys and televised sporting events, the music we select as the soundtrack for Yuletide cheer is decidedly not contemporary.

Sure, every now and then a Mariah Carey will step forth for humankind — it can't be just about the money, can it? — and attempt to redefine what music we listen to around the house during the holiday season. Of course, those attempts are usually just slicked-up versions of the originals and have no real longevity.

Ultimately, people gravitate back to their Mel Torme, Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley Christmas albums. Or even just some light Muzak stylings.

"Things will never be the same," people have been saying a lot this year. So, being the future-thinking rascals that we are, CityBeat is offering up a few suggestions for your holiday-oriented listening pleasure this season ... and maybe many seasons to come.

To find these nuggets, we suggest combing the CD and vinyl bins at your favorite cool record stores or, more appropriately, scouring the Internet for the readily available MP3 versions — just like Kubrick might have imagined it!

Mojo Nixon: Horny Holidays!

Cincinnati's favorite musical import (what's a Peter Frampton?), Mojo Nixon originally released this gem in 1992 on Triple X Records (it's available at most Web record retailers). Contains such should-be classics as "Trim Yo' Tree" and "Head Crushing Yuletide Sing-A-Long," as well as reworkings of "Mr. Grinch" and "We Three Kings." Just make sure the kiddies are nestled before unleashing this one — like Elvis, Mojo likes his Christmas blue.

Venus Envy: I'll Be a Homo for Christmas

Breaking this out at the family holiday function can be a fun way for women to let their folks know why they haven't brought a boyfriend home to meet them yet. In fact, the running theme of this lesbian-oriented jewel — originally released in 1988 — is bringing the gal-pal home to meet the 'rents. Featuring the parodies "It Came Upon a Midnight Queer," "Rhonda the Lesbo Reindeer" and, unavoidably, "The 12 Gays of Christmas." Fellas might wanna seek out Gay Apparel: X-Mas Songs, a similarly styled (yet slightly bawdier) effort by a group called the Go Go Boys.

Various Artists and Meco: Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album

Being probably the cult Christmas album of all time, this hilarious blunder of an idea is probably the closest to "classic" status on this list. Originally this was tied to a rarely seen television special that so embarrassed George Lucas he forever banned it from future showing. Rhino reissued the Disco and Rock celebration — featuring the unbelievable "What Can You Get a Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)?" — in 1996, but it's still somewhat hard to find. It's fun to laugh at a billionaire's mistakes. Trivia note: A young Jon Bon Jovi is credited as a vocalist.

The Beatmas: Xmas!

This a vaguely amusing collection of Christmas songs redone with Beatles melodies and attitude, right down to the Help! cover parody. Released in 1996 — why it took so long we'll never know — it's actually performed by a Swedish Fab Four cover act called The Rubber Band (ouch!). Features things like "White Christmas" interlaced with the "Ticket to Ride" guitar riff and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" sung to the tune of "Eight Days a Week."

El Vez: Merry MeX-mas

El Vez, the Mexican Elvis "impersonator," extended his flair for merging seemingly unrelated (and unrelatable songs) songs into an entertaining, crafty mix with this 1994 release. Features "Feliz Navidad" done to the music of Public Image Limited's "Unlimited Supply," as well as the cuts like "Brown Christmas," "Santa Claus Is Sometimes Brown" and "Poncho Claus." Viva Santista!

38 Special: A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night

This is the only one of the bunch that qualifies as new — it was just released by CMC International. 38 Special, you might remember, were one of the few post-Skynyrd Southern Rock bands to make a commercial dent. So a Christmas album is the logical next step, right? The group dismantles a few standards — "Little Drummer Boy," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" — while their original compositions mostly sound like Ford truck commercials. ©

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