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Recently in 2000s Category

fredhack.jpg
If you're not familiar with Fred, he's an Internet phenom, making YouTube videos of his 6-year-old self singing and rapping in Chipmunks-style vocals about his dysfunctional home life. It went viral to the point where he's made three TV movies for Nickelodeon. Fred's a fictional character by the way, portrayed by Lucas Cruikshank. Although this 2009 joint is aimed at kids, I prefer to think of this more as a novelty act for the folks who come to this website, particularly the song "Christmas Is Creepy," where he goes all Notorious A.L.V.I.N. on the holiday. "Christmas Cash" is not bad in the same vein, and the EP is filled out with "Fred's One Squirrel Open Sleigh (Jingle Bells)" and "Fred's 12 Days of Christmas," which are the familiar carols from the Fred character's point of view. As with all novelties, shelf life could be a problem, especially if you have kids who are into this, but one song on a mix disc couldn't be too big a problem, right?

britneyxmas.jpgI only stumbled over this a while back, a six-song EP that is a rap appeal to the singing star to come home with the artist behind this recording for Christmas. Well, actually, for Christmas 2006, as I don't hear much about ol' Brit anywhere but the supermarket tabloids nowadays. But not to worry, if Britney don't float your boat, the performers have thoughtfully repurposed the title song as appeals to Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Carmen Electra, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Yes, that's the other five songs on this collection. They're identical except for the name of the celebrity being appealed to. A good change of pace for your Christmas playlists, as long as you don't think any of these names are past their sell-by date. Apparently, this was repurposed from an EP, Britney Spears Wedding, from the same year for holiday consumption. (I was going to say, "The aughts called, they want their celebrities back," but I'm the one who didn't find out about this until now.)
wickedxmas.jpgThis is essentially a Boston-speak parody of "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas," and the single features five versions, the original plus four remixes done by the folks behind the Santastic compilations, like dj BC, ATOM and Black Element. The original song was from 2004 and the remixes were released in 2009. There's some interesting reinterpretations here, though I suspect most folks tend to ignore the remixes in favor of the original song. But anything that puts shekels into the pockets of the Santastic folks is OK by me.
chifood.jpgIt's the old joke about what Jews do on Christmas day, which is clog the movie theaters and Oriental restaurants, according to urban legend. Brandon does a nice earnest-nerdy take on this piano-led novelty from 2008. (Brandon's bio on his website traces the song a bit farther back to 2006, when he made a video of it.) This gets a kind of backhanded Hannukah alert. Oh, and take a look for yourselves:

"Yuletide Zeppelin I," Mojochronic (self-issued)

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I keep hearing folks going nuts over this, and Robert Drake just played it on WXPN-FM in Philly this afternoon, so I figured folks who don't find their way over to the old site might appreciate having it up front here today. There's a part two if you can't get enough from this one, by the way. If I don't post any more for the next couple of days, Merry Christmas from Mistletunes. (I will be back to posting soon though, so keep on coming back.)

Not just another band from L.A., The Skandles work the music-comedy beat at DailyComedy.com and also on their own MySpace page. So what's up with this? Think Chipmunks go gangsta and you got it nailed. Lyrics available on MySpace as well. Expurgated and unexpurgated versions are out there, depending on who's on your mix disc list. But why make you wait? Check it out for yourself, NSFW:

yulenog5.jpgYulenog collections have featured here at Mistletunes in past years, and sure enough 2009 brings us another one. The modus operandi is that Kuruna and friends, most of whom appear to be jazzers of one stripe or another, put together a collection of holiday novelties. Some of this year's better ideas on this collection include the hip-hop number "Santa, Do You Like Dat Booty," complete with auto-tune vocal; "Santa's In-Box (Spamta Claus)," a spoken-word recitation of e-mail come-ons with holiday overtones; "Virgin Mary," a grungy rocker featuring a supreme being's pickup lines; "Great White Surprise," an original with the flavor of Jesus & Mary Chain; "Chuck D's Christmas Carol," another rap Christmas take based on the Public Enemy blueprint; and from "Dreamgirls," a holiday takeoff, "And I Am Telling You I Am Still a Virgin." The performances of traditional carols are perfunctory, though, with the nadir being "The First Noel" done with a chorus of off-pitch pennywhistles. As usual, there are a lot of great ideas here, although you may do some skipping around to get to them.
No one's seen fit to make this terrific parody song available for use by the fraternity of Christmas disc mixers (everyone who has took it from a video cap of the show on which it originally ran, complete with audience laughter), but we can at least enjoy it this way.

Singing saws carve a Christmas niche

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We like our novelties here at Mistletunes, and I thought it was kismet that I acquired one singing saw holiday tune just as my e-mail brought news of a singing saw video. Go over to Stereogum.com and check out/download Julian Koster's "Let It Snow," a rather well produced pop take on the popular tune. Apparently, Julian has an entire disc, The Singing Saw at Christmastime, on Merge Records, but this tune isn't on it. Meanwhile, here's Natalia "The Saw Lady" Paruz, an actual classical harpist who also plays the saw, going unplugged to busk "Silent Night" in the New York City subway system. I note for the record that saw soloists tend to play covers; where are all the original composers for saw? Or socket sets, for that matter?

"Macarena Christmas," Los Del Rio (BMG)

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You've no doubt heard of the cash-in sequel. This 1996 single is probably the most naked cash-grab going; they basically took the original song and superimposed girl singers doing short lines from classic Christmas carols in between the verses. I haven't been this jealous since I missed out on a chance to direct an episode of "Cops." Just in case you weren't one of the first six million or so people to buy the original "Macarena," the Bayside Boys Mix version is also on this single. Or you can just watch this, though I take no responsibility should anyone click on this and later pluck their eyes out:

Christmas Cheers, Straight No Chaser (Atlantic)

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straight2.jpgOne rightly looks askance when an act scores a holiday-related hit, rushes out an album, then rushes out a second album the following year -- especially when it includes the hit from the first album. Straight No Chaser isn't the first act to follow this blueprint, but they're the latest. The hit in question, their still-entertaining medley based on "12 Days of Christmas," reappears here in a studio version, as opposed to the live version that powered the group's multi-million-hit YouTube video. But we've all heard that by now, so what's next? How about something similar based on "Can-Can?" Kicking off the new album is "Christmas Can-Can," a fairly strong medley in the same vein as "12 Days," this time relying on holiday parody lyrics for the can-can part of the song while jamming in a number of other holiday tunes, and "The Dreidel Song" reappears here too. Their version of "We Three Kings" is based on the theme from "Mission: Impossible," "Let It Snow" gets a fresh funky take, they cover Brian Setzer's "Hey Santa" and apply some of the same approach to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," taking a few liberties with the lyrics and playing around with antique radio sounds. "Santa Claus Is Back In Town" sounds good in a capella, and they provide one original, "Who Spiked the Eggnog," a jazzy companion to "Hey Santa." The rest of the album, mostly classic carols, tracks a lot closer to glee club, but if you missed out on the "12 Days" craze last year, that and "Christmas Can-Can" are worth hearing. There's a special edition of the disc that adds a version of "Last Christmas," by the way.

invczars.jpgPyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky is quite the pop star among classical composers, with numerous "hits" to his credit, including "The 1812 Overture" (and how many patriotic Americans know a dad-blamed Roosky wrote this piece often performed for the Fourth of July?), "Swan Lake," "The Sleeping Beauty," and his now-associated-with-Christmas opus "The Nutcracker Suite." It's so popular that you have to be pretty far into the woods not to be able to take in a live performance within commuting distance of your home sometime between mid-November and New Year's Day. Of course, most performances tend to be fairly literal readings of the score, with a few of the more adventurous jurisdictions offering George Balanchine's famous choreography to go with it. For those looking for a little holiday spice with their cracked nuts, the Invincible Czars, pride of Austin, Texas, have obliged with their more irreverent, rock-jazz-country-Latin-tinged arrangement, which they've performed for charity every year since 2004 and released on disc in 2007. I'm just catching up with it now, and though I'm not a Nutcracker maven, I can assure you the Czars do justice to the work of old Mother Russia's favorite son. It takes some serious chops to put down something like this, though, so not surprisingly, these folks are mainstays of Austin's serious and academic musical scene -- they just manage to do a decent job of keeping that news from the listener. Though it's billed as a "rock" version of the classic ballet, this isn't the two-guitars-bass-drums version -- the Czars take a more multilayered view of things, with a wide spread of instrumentation and a taste for throwing in everything from classic carols to square-dance rhythms. If you're in the Austin-Houston area, you might want to punt TSO and Mannheim this year and catch these folks instead.

aquateen.jpgI've never seen more than a few minutes of the actual TV show, so apologies if I overlook anything about this 2009 album that's crucial to the Aqua Teen Hunger Force backstory. If Wikipedia's right, though, continuity isn't this Cartoon Network franchise's strong suit. Indeed, the characters -- and the plot, come to that -- are, shall we say, easily distracted, with "Twas the Night Before Jesus" being Exhibit A. What starts out as the story of the Nativity is quickly embellished with a bearded baby that can shoot lasers out of his eyes while his parents are killed and he's forced to attend wizard college... and this is only about a quarter of the way into the song. Things kick off with a version of "Feliz Navidad" in which a character asks, two lines in, whether they can sing it in English, which leads to them singing "meat navi-wad" and rattling off numerous fast-food specialities. An attempt to render "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" as a hip-hop anthem is similarly distracted with Boxy Brown's disquistion on a new Scott Stapp album and whether Jesus was black. In the "things that make you go hmm" department, "Santa Left a Booger In My Stocking" is a duet between Meatwad and Neko Case. Yes, that Neko Case. Also landing in the original tune department is "I Sure Hope I Don't Have to Beat Your Ass This Christmas," a misanthropic affirmation of the holiday's virtues. Then there's "Frosty the Red-Nosed Snowman," a tribute to Meatwad's easily distracted persona. I laughed a lot at this record and I'm not even familiar with the show, so I imagine this will have some entertainment value beyond the show's fan base.
jughiway.jpgThe long-running acoustic-folk-swing-rockabillly-Dixieland-Americana and yes, jug band combo made up of well-known San Franciscan musicians is back for 2009 with an album recorded live over the past couple of seasons, compiling parody songs, some originals, and a fair amount of jug band jamming. In other words, the same M.O. exhibited over their four other albums. Things kick off with the instrumental "Shoot 'Em In the Pants," swinging into some originals, including "Carolin'," "This Christmas Night" and "Santa's Going Crazy This Year." "Jolly Ol' Soul" features Dan Hicks taking off on "My Blue Heaven," and later "Santa, the Man," based on "Song For My Father." Tim Eschliman gets into the act with "High Stack o' Presents" based on "High Blood Pressure," plus "Santa's on the Mainline," from the song originally about Jesus. Country Joe McDonald stops by with "Dirty Claus Rag," and the crew brings us a blues boogie, "Christmas in the Bottle," about an alcoholic holiday. As an antidote, they also bring us "Xmas Anonymous." All told, another light-hearted romp from some West Coast experts in old-school American music.
ensemble.jpgDon't know much about these folks except they're from Seattle and they apparently recorded this in 2007. It's apparently done with good intentions -- some of the proceeds are earmarked for homeless aid charities in their home city -- but as a novelty/comedy take on the holiday, the laughs are few and far between. A casual listen reveals a mostly instrumental large soul band take on some Christmas tunes, well performed, but much of what's intended to be humorous is either too obvious or way too obscure. A double dose of David Rose's "The Stripper" is supposed to be mashed up with Christmas songs, but you have to listen with both ears and a copy of the score to pick them out. Then there's the medley of "Holly Jolly Christmas/Jingle Bell Rock" in which the hook is that it's being sung by "Elf-ish Presley and his Elves," a bad pun on the band name and a run-of-the-mill Elvis impression. There are some high points here, however. The most inspired number is "Jesus Super Freak," a slowed-down gospelly takeoff on the Rick James tune whose punchline takes a moment to sink in. "Carol of the Tubular Bells" mashes up the carol with the Mike Oldfield tune that served as theme to "The Exorcist." "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts)" gets a Santo & Johnny arrangement, "Tiffany Sequence M.22" jams "Deck the Halls" into some sort of 70s TV ad theme (sounded a bit like "Music To Watch Girls By") and "Out of Presents" plays the old Marketts surf tune "Out of Limits" over "Up On the Housetop." Kind of uneven from a novelty standpoint, its best use is as background music.
Like Flight of the Concords but wish they were more, say, female? Welcome Garfunkel and Oates, nee Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, native Pennsylvanians who found their way to LA and acting careers specializing in comedy. I doubt I have to explain the name to music fans, nor will much annotation of this excellent video be necessary once you watch it all the way through. "Present Face," this 2008 ode to the disappointment following the opening of a Christmas fruitcake or other unwelcome gift, unfortunately is not on their Music Songs album. UPDATE: However, it did finally become available on its own to download.

 

"Fuck Christmas," Eric Idle (self-issued)

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ericidle.jpgThe Monty Python stalwart put this up on iTunes for 2006, but I just stumbled over it this year. If you're familiar with that comedy team's songcraft, you know what to expect, and this is an ever lovin' hoot.

straight.jpgThis a cappella group came together at Indiana University and became one of those Internet traditions we are all aware of when they YouTubed a performance of "12 Days of Christmas" that interpolates the carol into several other familiar carols, topping the whole melange off by singing the words over Toto's "Africa." A live version of that hit is the centerpiece of their 2008 Christmas CD. Ten voices strong, the cover kind of screams "glee club," but these guys, if not quite as deranged as the Bobs, manage to put together decent, snappy versions of rock-era arrangements of such tunes as "Jingle Bell Rock," "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," "Little Saint Nick," "This Christmas," and more. "The Christmas Song" is definitely glee club material, however. The version at iTunes has three bonus cuts, including a full version of "Africa." Here's the famous "12 Days":

weathrby.jpgDon't know much about the good Lord, but this 2006 novelty is great fun, a slightly less manic Napoleon XIV take on Santa Claus. "It's all so overwhelming for my milk-and-cookie brain," he laments, as he describes how none of the jolly elf's story checks out factually, and yet he wakes up on Christmas morning and there everything is. A look at his MySpace page reveals little else about Weatherby except for what is almost certainly a fictional biography.
beatturt.jpgThis album's from 2002, but I just stumbled over it lately. Beatnik Turtle is a novelty show band with a bunch of albums to their name, plus a sideline creating a "song of the day," a service similar to They Might Be Giants' Dial-a-Song. They've been heard on Dr. Demento's show and have played at Second City, so this should give you an idea what's on offer here. There are strong melodies and hooks with fun-loving lyrics, set off with the occasional pilfered hook -- "Santa Doesn't Like You" starts out with the beat from "Addicted to Love" and the guitar lick that kicks off "Christmas Cake" reminds me of "Peace Frog" by the Doors. "Christmas Is a Vulture" is a take-off on protest music, "Tipped Over the Christmas Tree" is an inebriated-sounding bit of fake jazz, and "Coed Naked Drunk Christmas Shopping" starts out with some Spike Jones-like sound effects riffing before everybody gets dragged before the judge for, well, see title. "Christmastime (Turn to the Children)" is a parody of those songs that render the holiday as a time for children, complete with children's chorus. "Smokin' the Mistletoe" plays around with the "Rudolph" intro before going on to advocate for a holiday high, following the plot, if not the lyrics, from "A Visit From St. Nicholas." (The liner notes point out this is probably dangerous, kids, so don't try this at home.) And "Santa" is based loosely on John Lennon's "God," complete with the litany of Christmas traditions the singer "don't believe in" because "Santa is a concept by which we commercialize the holidays." All told, an enjoyable romp.
yulenog4.jpgWe covered Yulenog 3 last year, and sure enough here's no. 4. This year's album adds the conceit of political satire on top of the holiday fare, promising tunes for both sides of the partisan divide. It kicks off with a slapdash "All I Want For Christmas," then goes into "Coal For Christmas," which is about the fossil fuel situation. Santa has a bit of an identity crisis here, as the next two songs, sung by Sam Kulik, are "Santa's From Iran," a bit of dissonant funk, and "Santa Claus is a Jew," a folky bit of satiric irony that revisits the fossil fuel situation. Kuruna returns with "Snoopy's Christmas," Weird Al's "Christmas at Ground Zero," Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster's Holiday," the infamous "What Can You Get a Wookie For Christmas" and a falsetto "Santa Baby." Charles Evans stops by with "Obama For Christmas (Not For President)," the first holiday song featuring our new president as far as I know; it's kind of jazzy but the singing is a bit off-key. Kuruna also does a quick "No Christmas For Old Men," an homage to the Coen brothers, and revisits "Island of Misfit Toys." The satirical aspect isn't all that satisfying to my mind, since they seem to abandon it frequently, but you'll probably enjoy what sounds like a fairly spontaneous attempt to make a Christmas album.
colbert.jpgAmerica's favorite fake pundit steps away from the desk to host the greatest Christmas special of all time (just ask him). It is quite a hoot, as Colbert takes off on the old-school Christmas variety special that used to clog the airwaves at Christmas time back in the day. As one of the features of such shows was a cast of big stars "coincidentally" wandering onto the set, Colbert follows the blueprint with the help of Elvis Costello, John Legend, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Feist and Jon Stewart. Colbert himself gets things going with "Another Christmas Song," a big-band song about writing the perfect Christmas carol, and wraps up with "A Cold Cold Christmas," a song of lost love. Toby Keith sings "Have I Got a Present For You," which is the ultimate War On Christmas song (listening, Papa Bear?). Feist cracks us up with "Please Be Patient," a take-off on "Angels We Have Heard On High" in which supplicants praying are told "an angel will be with thee shortly," complete with an interlude of tinkertoy hold music. Willie Nelson sings "Little Dealer Boy," which riffs a tiny bit on the Bing 'n Bowie medley while offering some righteous bud to go alongside the frankincense and myrrh. Legend gets in a little Al Green rhythm with "Nutmeg," the perfect accent to your holiday eggnog. At least I think that's what he's singing about. Stewart sings "Can I Interest You in Hanukkah," which triggers the requisite alert, and Elvis Costello gets out of doing a Christmas song by bringing along his show-closer "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding," here done by the whole cast. I should note that Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne was a co-writer of the original songs from this show along with David Javerbaum of "The Daily Show." The show's on DVD but there's a soundtrack disc as well. From 2008.
substanw.jpgI have no idea who these guys are, other than a bunch of people with access to musical instruments, but this is great fun. There are 28 cuts on this album, including eight different versions of "O Christmas Tree" tagged with various descriptions, from "Midnight Martini Mix" and "Hooked on Xmas Mix" to "Slap My Bass Mix" and "Dead Kringles Mix." Needless to say, they're different musical styles, the Kringles being punk, the Martini being lounge, and so on. "Switched On Bethlehem" is the little town carol done in "Switched On Bach" style, "Good King Wenceslas" wavers from electro-handclaps synth-pop to antique carol style, and "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" sounds somewhere between Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. "Silver and Gold" is basically the voice of your annoying Uncle Elwin as producer, complaining about the band the way he might complain about the check-out girl at the supermarket. Much of this is various shades of synth-pop, but there's enough going on to get your attention and maybe even a few giggles.
paulstrm.jpgThis duo brings us a simple, stripped-down ode to the commercialization of the season, particularly the part where stores have up mistletoe for Veterans Day. Unfortunately, the singer snaps and takes out his wrath on Santa Claus, and, well, everybody learns a lesson. Nice job.
FrGuido.jpgYeah, bet you haven't thought about this guy since his "Saturday Night Live" days. Well, he's still out there, and he came back recently with this, which is more of a monologue over a musical bed of people singing the title to the tune of "100 Bottles of Beer On the Wall." It's about 14 minutes long, in keeping with his expressed wish to create "the worst Christmas song ever." The fact that he talks over the whole thing shows he at least has a bit of remorse at the notion once it gets under way. It's worth hearing, though, as he talks about how he came to write his other Christmas songs, "I Won't Be Twisting This Christmas" and "Santa's Lament." Visitors to his website had the opportunity to buy a CD with all three songs on it, but it's apparently sold out. This song can still be downloaded, however. Sarducci claims he's planning another Christmas song, "Frosty the Snow," about Frosty before he was made into a snowman. We'll keep an eye out for it.
clemons.jpgClemons and his band are a strong jazz combo, but the group unwisely -- in my opinion -- mixes a novelty music approach with their authentic jazz sound, and the result doesn't really do justice to the group's talent. When you consider the novelty component is juvenile sex humor mixed with sophisticated adult music, you end up with cognitive dissonance. That aspect is mostly limited to the title song, however, one of four vocal tunes on this 2003 album. The rest is instrumental music, mostly standards, although the original vocal "Christmas Alone" is a decent holiday ballad and a mambo "Auld Lang Syne" is always fun. As a jazz album it's more than listenable, but it falls way short as a novelty record. UPDATE: Clemons cut another Xmas CD in 2006, Christmas Is Cool. Neither album appears to be currently available.

Mingle Smells, Clumpy (Clumpymusic)

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mingle.jpgFrom deep in the wilds of down-underest Australia, Bern McInerney and Tony Hennessy decided they'd rather cut an album than go Christmas shopping, and so this was their gift to all and sundry in 2001. Boy, I wish I'd thought of that. (I wondered whether I should feature something nobody will be able to get their hands on, but I figured my mailbox isn't exactly overflowing with DIY Christmas albums, so what the heck.) They even created an original song, "Toy Making Machine," and I'll let them describe it -- "A song which seeks to investigate the psychology behind a young Santa's inability to attain social acceptance and explores his encounter with gaseous alien beings from a planet many light-years away from our solar system who, taking pity on the big fat kid, present him with the greatest gift any kid could receive." The rest are popular covers, including what has to be the world's fastest "12 Days of Christmas," a slow-tempo "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that swings into a "Shaft" parody near the end, and a dirgey "Jingle Bells." There's also a helium-induced "Frosty the Snowman" that kicks off with a "Wizard of Oz" sample and swings into four minutes of heartbeat-electronic musique concrete, "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" done as country blues, "Little Drummer Boy" in your basic toy piano, bells and drum machine rendition, and all capped off with the NC-17 rated version of "I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus," an instrumental with lots of humping sounds.

valby.jpgA strictly novelty item from 2000, Valby gives us 23 familiar carol parodies, all of which are pretty gross sex gags. Strictly NC-17-rated stuff, there's no Parental Advisory sticker, and worse, the song titles are toned down from what actually comes out of your speakers. There are some laughs nevertheless, but this isn't something you're likely to want on your Christmas mix. Sean Delany tells us he can trace this item to a version released on Gembok back in 1984, although this is possibly re-recorded and otherwise added to.
wombles.jpgBack in the early 1970s, there was The Wombles, a British kids' puppet show that also released records like "Remember You're a Womble" and "Wombling Merry Christmas." Then there was Roy Wood, creative spark plug of The Move, cofounder of Electric Light Orchestra, founder of Wizzard and eccentric solo artist; his Boulders solo album from 1972, on which he played all the instruments, is one of the great lost rock albums of all time. And of course, Roy is the man who, with Wizzard, gave us "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day." Needless to say, this 2000 single is son of the bride of Frankenstein. It's cute if you get the gag, but, well, having taken this long to read the entire back story above....
tumatoe.jpgThe Indianapolis-based Tumatoe is one of those guys with one foot in the blues and the other in comedy, and this 2006 disc is a solid effort, if rated PG-13. Most of the tunes are original, but then where else could he come up with the title song, or "Eat Me -- I'm a Turkey?" The only covers on the album are "All I Want for Christmas is to Lay Around and Love On You," the Chuck Willis tune (thanks to Art Spencer for identifying the originator), and "Santa Claus Santa Claus," originally done by James Brown. Christmas dinner goes wrong in "Christmas at Grandma's," and you might agree on "Christmas -- I Can't Take It" since flatulence plays a key role. Overall, good for some holiday giggles with a minimum of cringe-worthy lines.
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