There are some things that sound like a good idea in theory, but are actually a disaster in reality. The infamous GAP logo redesign, which lasted all of one week before an angry mob forced a hasty retreat, comes to mind.
Then there are things that are a bad idea in theory and an even worse idea in reality. I am reminded of this every holiday season when every store, doctor's office, gym, gas station or funeral home seems to be playing holiday music on a continuous loop, most of it involving some celebrity who should have known better, but whose agent or manager clearly didn't. While there are certainly a few cool classics (David Bowie and Bing Crosby dueting on "Little Drummer Boy" comes to mind), those are few and far between. Instead we spend most of our holiday season using our ear-muffs to not only protect our ears from the cold but to protect them from the indignity of being assaulted by someone like Twisted Sister singing--or rather shouting---about a virgin and a manger.
There used to be a time when a celebrity looking to keep his or her name in the public eye would do something slightly more subtle and less offensive than a Christmas album, like calling themselves an author because they wrote a 20 page children's book, or appearing on some embarrassing reality show with other fellow so-called celebs whose 15 minutes of fame are already clocking in at around 15:59 too.
But it appears that the Christmas album is now officially one of the go-to gigs for anyone who can't get booked on "Dancing with the Stars," but refuses to take that as a sign that it may be time to do something else.
Now don't get me wrong. There are some celebs that were born to make Christmas albums. Susan Boyle was not put on this Earth to make the kind of music that makes you want to break it down at a club. Instead she was blessed with the kind of voice that makes you want to put on "It's a wonderful Life" and have a good cry, just after you've finished decorating your Christmas tree. And Mariah Carey has secured her place in history as one of the only human beings of the modern era to write and record a song that is now officially a worldwide Christmas staple. Unbeknownst to some, Carey not only recorded, but actually penned, the classic "All I want for Christmas is you" which is now just as ubiquitous at holiday concerts, and among neighborhood carolers as "Jingle bells." It's no surprise then that Boyle and Carey's newly released holiday albums have gone on to become bestsellers. In Carey's case, her second holiday hit.
But some of the other "celebs" releasing holiday albums this year?
Wilson Phillips. Yep that Wilson Phillips last heard from sometime in the 90's, along with American Idol runner up Katharine McPhee, the Indigo Girls and the O'Jays--whom my mother absolutely loves and adores so I may end up actually buying this one for Christmas, but not because I actually think this album is a good idea.
Over the years some of the other celebs that have taken a sleigh ride down the holiday album route: Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Twisted Sister, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kurtis Blow, Deathrow Records--that's right, the label that gave us Tupac and Snoop Dogg--and William Hung. YES William Hung, famously rejected from American Idol, who released the appropriately titled "Hung for the Holidays."
Now, I'm not the only grinch when it comes to this. A study from Mood Media Corporation found that 61% of shoppers said hearing holiday music does NOT make them more likely to buy. But I have a theory. I think hearing good holiday music might. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of that. Nothing would make me cut a shopping trip short faster than hearing William Hung sing....well anything, no matter how cute or ironic a store thinks playing nontraditional holiday music is. And according to one hearing expert this is not simply a matter of taste. It's a matter of sanity. Nigel Rodgers, noted in the New York Times that, "According to the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, an average shop assistant hears 'Jingle Bells' 300 times in the few days before Christmas -- enough to go mad. And it's the same in restaurants and hotels: bad for the customer but worse still for the staff."
So here's wishing all of you a happy, healthy holiday, free of the insanity that truly awful holiday music brings. And since I know I've missed many of the worst offenders, as well as some of the best celeb Christmas albums, please feel free to weigh in with your nominations in the comments below. (Click here to see a list of my five all time fave celebrity holiday songs.)