Ho Ho Ho! As Music Director of WFUV, I get asked to compile “Best Of” lists all the time, so a “Worst Of” list presents an interesting challenge. Christmas albums are generally thought of as easy money for record companies. How else can you explain Rosie O’Donnell’s duet with Elmo or any of the American Idol contestants’ holiday releases? So, I dove into my big collection of holiday music in search of the dreck and present the best of the worst:
1. “The Little Drum Machine Boy” by Beck. On paper, it sounds like a good idea, but Beck taking on the classic “Little Drummer Boy” runs on for six minutes and will give you an eggnoggin’ headache.
2. “Silent Night” by Aretha Franklin. I know what you’re thinking: How could Aretha ruin this one? Cheesy strings and schmaltzy arrangements drown out the Queen of Soul. How could she forget “Respect” and “Rocksteady?”
3. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Dean Martin. Even though he died on Christmas day, he cannot get away with this. His whiskey-soaked voice is just inappropriate for this childhood classic. Plus, grown men in tuxedos shouldn’t sing this song.
4. “The First Noel” by Crash Test Dummies. Remember this guy’s voice?! This is the most depressing, joyless song ever. I like to be happy at Christmas. And finally…
5. The entire “animal” genre. Barking dogs, singing chipmunks, and the ultimate holiday dreck, Lou Monte’s “Dominick the Donkey.”
All you really need at Christmas is Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra—they set the standard and it still holds.