It’s officially the holiday season, which means it’s time to pull out the Christmas music. For some artists releasing a Christmas album is practically in their contract, but there are others you would never expect to follow suit. Something about the music they make or their personal beliefs make them seem like the last people to sing cheery tunes. Whether it’s all for money or because they genuinely love Christmas here are 14 unexpected artists who released Christmas albums.
14. The Green Days of Christmas: The Holiday Tribute to Green Day
There are tons of tribute albums by various orchestral groups for any band you can think of. They’ve become somewhat of the norm in the music world, but this release is just baffling. These musicians took some of Green Day’s hits like “Brain Stew,” “Holiday,” and “Jesus of Suburbia,” added some strings and sleigh bells, and attempted to make them appropriate for Christmas. Why would anyone think this is a good idea? If anything fans want to hear Green Day do their own holiday song instead of having their classics bastardized for the season. What’s even worse, there are similar albums dedicated to Metallica and AC/DC. Though it’s not actually by Green Day, it was still too bizarre to leave off.
13. Heart Presents a Lovemonger’s Christmas
In 1998, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson released a Christmas LP called Here is Christmas under the name Lovemongers, one of their side projects. They then re-released the album in 2004 with the only change being the band name. You would think this album would be full of wicked renditions of your holiday favorites. Instead, it’s quite boring. Don’t get me wrong, they sound beautiful while singing “Ava Maria” and “Here is Christmas,” but it gets dull really fast. Maybe they’ll do another holiday record where they make things a little more interesting.
12. Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart
Bob Dylan is a legend in his own right who keeps inspiring artists young and old to this day. He’s definitely left his mark on music history, so you don’t expect him to have a Christmas album, especially since he’s Jewish. But Dylan himself said he loves Christmas and never felt left out of the festivities. I thought the release was surprising considering how political Dylan can be. It’s not that people who dabble in politics can’t enjoy the season, but you don’t expect them to sing jingles like “Here Comes Santa Clause” and “Little Drummer Boy.” In true Dylan fashion, proceeds from the album went to the charity Feeding America. So not only do you get to enjoy Christmas with Dylan, you support a good cause at the same time.
11. Bootsy Collins – Christmas is 4 Ever
This holiday LP is full of original tunes and well known jingles interpreted by the eclectic Bootsy Collins. Since he’s more known for his bass playing skills, he lets other singers, including Snoop Dogg, take center stage. But don’t worry, each track is filled with his standard “Yeah baby” message somewhere in the background. It’s a funk driven collection that’s good for anyone who wants to jam this season. It may not be for everyone, but it’s at least a different take on the holiday songs.
10. Bad Religion – Christmas Song
You’re one of the seminal punk bands since the ’80s with a well known political stance. You stand against consumerism and conformist thinking, so what’s you’re next step? Put out a Christmas album. At least that’s what Bad Religion did to the surprise of their fans. The band has performed Christmas songs in the past at live gigs, but have repeatedly turned down offers for a full length album. They had a change a heart and released their first holiday collection in 2013. Since a lot of their songs are cynical, smart, and witty, you would expect them to bring that same attitude to this release. Instead, they cover the songs in a straight forward fashion with lots of guitars and standard punk rock sound. With the name Bad Religion and singer Greg Graffin’s strong stance on atheism, this release is downright bizarre.
9. Weezer – Christmas with Weezer
Even though Weezer does have a track called “The Christmas Song” on The Green Album, did you know they have a Christmas EP? The story of how it came about is an interesting one. The six traditional holiday tunes were originally recorded for the iOS game Christmas with Weezer, a special version of Tap Tap. The guys then released the tracks digitally for all their fans to enjoy. They actually don’t do a bad job on tracks like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Their simple delivery is amplified by their punchy music. While they spice up the tunes a bit, they never overdo it as some tend to do.
8. Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked for the Holidays
This album is a surprise because who thought the Barenaked Ladies were still making music? This record follows the same standard fair as other holiday albums, but it’s interesting to note they include songs about Hanukkah, like “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,” as well as seven original songs. Apparently, the LP was received pretty well since it reached #64 on the 2004 Billboard Charts. To be fair, a lot of their renditions are often funny, like “Jingle Bells” where they throw in the favorite juvenile line “Batman smells” or “Happy Birthday Jesus,” which is a humorous take on “Happy Birthday to You.” In other news, did you know the band released their last album in 2013? Guess people still like them.
7. August Burns Red – August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin’ Hill, A Holiday Album
Rock bands covering Christmas songs is becoming more of a standard, but not many of them do it well. August Burns Red is an exception. When you think about it, it sort of makes sense for a Christian metalcore band to have a holiday EP. Still, it’s not really something you expect regarding the music they play. What’s even more shocking is it’s really good for an instrumental album. They add some flair and edge to songs like “Sleigh Ride,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” What is a little weird is how they’ve re-released the album twice, once in 2013 and once again this year, to add more of their Christmas renditions. Wouldn’t it just be easier to record a whole new seasonal album?
6. Snopp Dogg Presents Christmas in tha Dogg House
I previously mentioned this album on my list on worst Christmas albums, but the idea of Snoop Dogg singing holiday jingles is absurd. The LP actually features several different artists singing holiday tracks like “Landy in my Egg Nogg,” “A Pimp’s Christmas,” and “My Little Mama Trippin on Xmas.” Yes, the songs are just as ridiculous as they sound. Each one is laced with references to drugs, sex, drinking, and more drugs. If you absolutely need a taste of this LP, just listen to Snopp Dogg and Nate Dogg’s version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which takes the rhyme and replaces them with explicit lines like “The stocking was hung on my big hard dick.” Yeah, definitely not for the family.
5. The Reverend Horton Heat – We Three Kings
You wouldn’t expect a self proclaimed “psychobilly” band, who specializes in rockabilly and country to have a traditional Christmas album. Yet, they released one in 2005 and it’s pretty fucking good. They bring their upbeat nature, surf rock inspired guitars, and quirky nature to songs like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.” It actually makes for a really fun, energetic, and exciting holiday album. It can be hard for some bands to keep their sound while breathing new life into these overplayed jingles, but TRHH did just that. Check it out if you’ve had enough of Mariah Carey this season.
4. MXPX – Punk Rawk Christmas
This LP is filled with original Christmas songs from this punk rock group that range from catchy to funny. They stick with what they know and toss in a little Christmas cheer. The album isn’t that bad with some stand out tracks being the humorous “It’s Christmas and I’m Sick,” the title track, and the energetic “Another Song About Christmas.” The entire thing is upbeat and lots of fun. Amazingly, they don’t sound cheesy when singing about the holidays unlike other artists. So if anyone is looking to shake up their Christmas party, then check out this album.
3. Black Label Society – Glorious Christmas Songs that Will Make Your Black Label Heart Feel Good
Not only is it surprising to learn that heavy metal band Black Label Society has a Christmas album, but that’s it’s really good. This isn’t one of those cheesy “metal Christmas” albums that has holiday classics sung poorly from “metal stars” and lots of guitars tossed in. This one features the Black Label guys interpreting tracks like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “The First Noel” instrumentally and it sounds beautiful. While they’re still using guitars, they’re not trying to pull off crazy solos or give the song more attitude. Rather, this is a surprisingly mellow entry that any metal fan can appreciate.
2. Scott Weiland – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
When you learn that Scott Weiland has a Christmas album, you expect him to cover Christmas classics in a hard rock manner. Somehow Weiland convinced himself he was a ’50s crooner instead. The former singer of the Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver tries to channel Bing Crosby and Elvis Presely and instead sounds like a wavering drunk. It’s so unbelievably bad. When I fired up “Winter Wonderland” and he started cooing, I thought it was a corny joke that would lead to blazing guitars and hard rock howls. I was so wrong. Who convinced him this was a good idea? It’s fine if he wants to explore his range, but when he’s bad it’s a different story.
1. Afroman – A Colt 45 Christmas
In the early 2000’s Afroman gained popularity for his hit “Because I Got High,” where he lists a number of things he didn’t get to do because he toked up. After that, we didn’t hear much from him even though he continued making independent albums, including this 2006 release. Here, Afroman parodies all the Christmas classics by sprinkling in references to sex, drugs, drinking, and committing crimes. Some of the questionable tracks include “Deck my Balls,” “O Chronic Tree,” “I Wish You Would Roll a New Blunt,” and “Violent Night.” If you really want to take the piss out of Christmas then you should check out this album, though you may not want to play it around the family.
Are there anymore unexpected Christmas albums I should know about? Let me know in the comments!