“We Three Kings” – Mojo Nixon
We three kings of orient are/drinking whiskey in a nude bar”... “We three kings of orient are/throwing up in our dad’s car” ... “We three kings are in the drunk tank/We smell bad, our bodies do stank/But we got there in purple underweeeeaaar/Following yonder star!” Secretly, you think this is what was going on when they trekked across the desert on those camels too, don’t you? ‘Sides, Mojo name-checks Tom Waits, which also rocks: “We were drunk for three days straight/feeling like we were Tom Waits/*incomprehensible growling gargling noises*” Oh yeah!
“Santa Claus (Go Straight to the Ghetto)” – James Brown
“Last Christmas” – Wham!
Aw, a one-night stand at a friend’s big annual holiday bash, maybe...? God bless us, every one!
When I was 14 years old and heard this song for the first time, I thought the line about “Now I know what a fool I’ve been/but if you kissed me now I know you’d fool me again” was really sweet and poignant. Now that I’m older, wiser, and far more contemptuous, I know it’s just really stupid... certainly as dumb as any song with“jingle bells” percussion as its downbeat. But I still love this song, oh so much. You could possibly argue that the effortless soaring George Michael vocal overcomes the rest of the song’s deficiencies. I mean, there are some pretty toolie covers of it – Backstreet Boys, Hilary Duff, Billie Piper – but really, it’s all about the Wham! But I don’t think the Wham! Factor explains it entirely. It’s one of those eternal Krimma Mysteries. Why do I get a kick out of over-the-top bad holiday yard decorations? Why do I adore that horrible stringy “icicle” tinsel? Why do I covet horrible fiberoptic tree-toppers and fake little winter villages? Ah, for the same inexplicable reason why I love Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” I guess. (The video is also a scream!)
“A Surfer’s Christmas List” – The Surfaris
By the musical geniuses that brought you “Wipeout!” By all rights, I should hate this song. It was on the over-played holiday music soundtrack when I was working one of my worst retail jobs EVER – at a cheap-ass clothing store in a mall where there were routinely gang-related shootings in the parking lot. I should have nothing but unpleasant associations with it. But it’s dorky, toolie and amusing... at least to me. I’ll bet a dollar it drives you batshit.
“Heat Miser/Snow Miser” – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Shouldn’t I be a purist and insist on the actual versions from the Rankin-Bass special? Heck no! The music and the vocals on the BBVD version are way better, and even just a teeny bit naughtier. (You know the Miser brothers were both total closet queens!) The swing is swingier, the brass is brassier, and the camp is campier. They even get in Heat Miser’s quintessential line “Some like it hot, but I like it REALLY hot!” although Snowy’s weird “Vvvv vvvv vvvv vvvv!” thing during the chorus is missing, but I can live without it when BBVD sounds like they’re having so much fun.
“Suzy Snowflake” – Soul Coughing
The Rosemary Clooney version of this really tardly song should be anachronistically tardly enough for me in all its chirpy, perky glory. But oh, the magic that is Soul Coughing’s version! With the weirdly growly, fucked-up dirty old man vocals jammed up against the cheerful whistling, the song is not only insanely catchy and funny, it’s also pretty disturbing. Like “who IS this woman in white, and why is she tap tap tapping at my windowpane at night?” Instead of some sweet confection, Suzy Snowflake becomes, like, an escaped inmate from a mental home or something. And then the whole part about “if you want to take a sleigh ride, the ride’s on me” can turn into something quite special as well, can’t it?
"Butch the Gay Santa Claus" – Cherry Poppin' Daddies
This was one of the offerings on my favorite (and favorite-name’d) Kevin & Bean Christmas Album, Santa’s Swingin’ Sack. I should hate it because, for one, it does the whole equating homosexuality with pedophilia. It’s kinda a holiday version of Kinko the Kid-Loving Clown, come to think of it. But go on... listen to it. Tell me it’s not ear crack! GO ON, TELL ME!
“Frosty the Snowman” – Esquivel
You know how last year, I said that there wasn’t any version of “Frosty the Snowman” that I could stomach...? Yeah, change that. Esquivel’s whole holiday album is a feast for the ears, but “Frosty the Snowman” is the one song on there that I really have no business loving. However, like ‘most everything Juan García Esquivel did, this is brill. The “zoo zoo zooo! Ba da ba da daaa” vocals are spectacular... and make the “thumpity thump thump” chorus quirky and amusing instead of retarded.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” – Twisted Sister
The newest edition to the list. Of course, I had hopes when I saw that Twisted Sister had reunited to put out a Christmas album that it would be as cheese-tastic as I could hope for. (Why hast thou failed me, Billy Idol? Why? Why?) And indeed, when I first heard this offering, I knew it was magic. See, it’s “O Come All Ye Faithful” but it’s to the tune of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”! To make things better, I debuted this album while driving around San Francisco for Fake Krimma with Mom, Gram and Sugarbear. So the views from Twin Peaks and the Christmas decorations in the Castro will forever be associated for me with me and Suge screeching in loud tandem “You’re worthless and weak! You DO nothing, you ARE nothing, you sit in here all day and play that SICK REPULSIVE ELECTRIC TWANGER!” along with Christmas carols. Besides, it turns out that Dee Snider, that “weird” guy from the heavy metal band my little brother listened to back in 1983 is a really kick-ass guy. And thanks for putting the drag back on, dude.
“Swiss Colony Beef Log” – Eric Cartman
There are so many better songs on the Mr. Hankey album... “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel,” for one, with lil’ Ike lapsing into “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Or “The Most Offensive Song in the World,” because you can suck all the dick you want and still be a virgin, Mary. Or “The Lonely Jew” or “What the Hell Child is This?” or Cartman squawking his way through “O Holy Night” or even the album’s title track. Or especially, Mr. Garrison’s “Merry Fucking Christmas,” which was frighteningly prophetic, wasn’t it? But I adore Eric Cartman screeching about his love for Swiss Colony Beef Logs. It brings back such poignant memories of my childhood Christmases back in the ‘70s... the Swiss Colony at Parkway Plaza, crowded with shoppers grabbing for those tacky baskets of non-gourmet “gourmet” goodies... of the inevitable basket or two my family would receive, usually as uninspired gifts from a boss or co-worker, of Gram plunking that particular red-dyed balsa wood basket filled with shredded green plastic-paper “grass” in the middle of the coffee table on Christmas Eve in hopes that one of the drunk great-aunts or -uncles would polish off the various wrapped and canned things (well, except for the mustard... no one ever seemed to want that). And I can remember the specific texture of greasy paper clinging to my childish fingers as peeled it away from the preservative-crammed “meat product food.” I can still remember the exact smell and taste of that disgusting, greasy, fatty, “smoke-flavored” beef log, and the neon-colored spreadable cheeses that look like fish bait and were coated in stale chopped nuts. Well, yeah, sure, that shit was gross, but when you compare it to some other Christmas treats, I still gotta side with Cartman, ‘cos “I fucking hate eggnog, seriously.”
“We Wanna See Santa Do the Mambo” – Bill Darnell & the Smiths
This is a white-bread cover of a song originally done by someone named Big John Greer (which sounds like a name I should know, actually...). Not that I actually truly WANT to see Santa do the mambo, any more than I want to see Mommy kissing Santa Claus. But I groove on the song, which is more dumb than kitschy, but in my world, that can work, too.
“The Christmas Song” – “Santa” Karl Malone
Technically this is part of the “Sing Along With Santa Karl” on Kevin & Bean’s Last Christmas, and really, must be annoying to anyone who didn’t spend years listening to Jimmy Kimmel doing his imitation of Karl Malone as a mealy-mouthed country bumpkin on KROQ. But for me, it’s a tender, touching, sentimental holiday touchstone, from the first note to the last. And yes, me and THTM sing along. In fact, we sing the “Karl Malone” lyrics any time we hear The Christmas Song, which goes like this, in case you want to join in:
Chipmunk roasting on a open fire
Jackoff nippin’ on yer nose
Yuletime cow with his tongue on a wire
An’ oh, dem pesky Eskimos!
And concludes with this heartfelt sentiment:
And so keep lookin’ for dat happy face
To kids from 1992
Although it’s been said many times in the head
Merry Christmas to you
Brings a tear to your eye, too, admit it.
“Funky Funky Christmas” – New Kids on the Block
How can this be? I hate the New Kids! I hated them when they came out. I hate them now. Sure, I have “Step By Step” on my Party Playlist for sheer campiness, but if I’m listening to my Teen Poo, NKOTB doesn’t even come close to making the cut; I’ll take the entire oeuvre of 5ive before I can stomach a couple New Kids songs. So... how did I end up feeling that “Funky Funky Christmas” is essential to my Krimma Playlist? Five words:
“Kick the ballistics, Santa Claus!”