T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring – not even the bloated rock star Santa himself. Probably because this year he wished for the groupie-loving, demo-cutting, dead-on-a-toilet, cocaine habit lifestyle of a rap metal demi-God – and we all know that good boys and girls get what they ask for at this precious time of year.
It was, in hindsight, only a matter of time before the rampant commercialisation of all things yuletide drove the big red machine over the edge. Trust me, nothing says; “You’re getting a piece of coal this year” like the sound of Santa’s tortured, vitriolic vocal on the unearthly Santa’s Christmas Rap. It’s like he’s the new Rage Against The Machine, only tubbier. And angrier. And with a magic list that tells him if you’re a filthy capitalist or not.
That, of course, is a lie bare-faced enough to start off Ebenezer Scrooge body poppin’ in his coffin: this is sickly-sweet saccarine fluff of the lowest possible common denominator, and, though I do not wish to alert trading standards officers without due cause, it does actually say “sung by Santa himself” on the sleeve (my emphasis).
But wait – what if this really is Pere Noel? If I say his singing voice is uncannily similar to a nightmare blend of Barney The Dinosaur and Gandalf, will I wake up on Christmas morn with a reindeer’s head in my bed? If I compare the musical backing to the pressing of a ‘demo’ button in any given 1980s keyboard shop, will there be razors in my Christmas pudding rather than pennies? And what if I were to afford myself a four-letter tirade about the creepiness of children’s choirs? I could go on, but I can’t.
Nevertheless, it’s the time of year where we accept – neigh, demand – candyfloss pop nonsense on the airwaves and half-baked Christmas special cheddar on the idiot box. For the first three tracks, at least, it’s no worse than wearing a crepe hat and looking like a royal arse for the best part of a December day.
Alas, the sublime morphs horrifically into the ridiculous before your very ears, the wretch-worthy “Sha-la-la, la-la, la-la, la – ho ho!” of the spectacularly titled (Is This The Way To) Amarillo (Santa’s Grotto) bringing to mind images of school children binge drinking eggnog and being embarrassingly frank at the Christmas dinner table. Have we not already suffered enough at the hands of Tony Christie? Are there no better songs for the big man to parody? And, as long as we’re asking questions, where the hell is my Christmas spirit?
The ears of parents everywhere are spared somewhat by the subsequent return to comparitive Christmassy normality: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is by no means awful (probably because it sees Santa relegated to dad dancing duties), whereas Sleigh Ride and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town are authentic enough to be positively enjoyable.
Remembering all the good that Santa has done over the years (by the way, thanks for that Lego spacestation in 1995), I am very much tempted to gloss over the occasional sell-out moments on this, his debut long player. As such, I won’t even mention that the cringe-worthy Santa’s Christmas Rap is the worst jingle-themed hip hop since Snow‘s Informer (ho ho ho), nor go into hideous detail about the way in which Christmas Popstar is easily as posturing and materially-oriented as any 50 Cent cut (“I wanna be a popstar / I wanna drive a big car” spits the bearded one).
What were they smoking when they thought of this? “I’ve got it!” Exec A must have said to Exec B: “We can distinguish ourselves in the novelty album market by saying that Santa himself is singing!” The nods and grins of evil marketing types inevitably followed, leaving us with a record so utterly bad that it might just be the best Christmas present of all time. Just wait until Santa’s lawyers get wind of this…