Think of the worst Christmas gift you ever got. OK, you’re probably thinking of some tacky sweater or other useless gift your Aunt Carol gave you. But I didn’t say “tacky.” I said “worst.” I mean a gift that was so ridiculously off-base that it was actually offensive to you because it was indicative of the gift giver knowing absolutely nothing about you as a person. Whatever gift you’re now imagining, giving someone a Christmas-themed punk album is 1000x worse than that. Plus a fruitcake. Plus pajamas. Plus an autographed photo of O.J. Simpson.
I’m not sure who the first band or label was that decided it would be a good idea to merge punk rock with Christmas music, but I hope Santa comes to their house this year and has all of his reindeer take huge, steaming reindeer shits down their chimney. For so many reasons, punk Christmas albums are a terrible idea. For starters, Christmas music is the absolute worst kind of music, right behind dubstep and whatever genre Phish is. Want proof? Here’s a list of artists who hold the top-selling Christmas albums of the last decade. Ready?:
Number 1: Kenny G.
Number 2: Josh Groban.
Number 3: Mariah Carey.
Number 4: Celine Dion.
And just to repeat number 1 again: Kenny Fucking G.
If those are the best Christmas albums, what could possibly be at the bottom of the list? I’ll tell you what: Punk Christmas albums.
Christmas music is so bad that the most commonly used phrases about it are: “Christmas music? Are you fucking kidding? It’s only barely even November,” and “If I hear this fucking Christmas song one more time, I will murder my entire family in their sleep.” When do you ever hear someone say, “Ooh, ‘Deck the Halls!’ Turn that up, it’s my jam!” Never. You never hear that unless you hang out at an insane asylum.
But despite Christmas music being the most universally hated thing outside of genocide or the Kardashians, punk bands have repeatedly made attempts at releasing Christmas albums, either writing their own terrible songs or covering holiday classics which somehow end up sounding worse than the originals. When I say “punk bands,” I’m using the term loosely since only the lamest bands take cracks at Christmas songs. They’d have to be lame. To cover a Christmas song, you’d have to say to yourselves, “Well, we’ve said everything we had to say in our own songs. There are literally no other pressing personal or social issues we can write about. We’ve got to start covering other people’s songs. But we’d like to skip the thousands of amazing songs in the world and go right to the bottom of the barrel and cover ‘Here Comes Santa Claus.’”
If you’ve never heard a punk rock Christmas song, first of all, quick, switch lives with me. Secondly, I’ll describe it as best I can: Picture every irritating thing you hate about Christmas music—the sugary sentimentality, the repetitive, sleigh bell-y hooks, the fact that you heard the song 50,000 times before you even turned 10—and now imagine that it’s being played by four dorks who only know three chords.
Fearless Records is releasing a Punk Goes Christmas comp today available at FYE, Walmart, and Hot Topic (where all self-respecting punks go to buy music!) featuring New Found Glory, Yellowcard, All Time Low, and a bunch of other bands you may’ve heard blasting from your little sister’s bedroom. Black Hole Records is also putting out their fifth (FIFTH!) annual Cashing in on Christmas comp featuring less sugary, but still incredibly pointless, punk and oi! Christmas songs such as (and these are all real) “Punk Rock Christmas,” “Fuck Your Christmas,” and my personal fave, “Ho Ho Oh Noo!” Oh noo indeed, Black Hole Records.
Everyone from Rancid to the Dickies to the Ramones to the Vandals to Stiff Little Fingers have embarrassed themselves by recording Christmas songs. Other bands who’ve given up on their careers and put out Christmas albums or EPs include MxPx, blink-182, and this one hurts to type, Bad Religion, who just released Christmas Songs, officially blurring the lines between unfunny irony and holy-shit-they’re-fucking-serious. Just to give you some perspective, the collective age of Bad Religion is 284 years old (the average age for a band member is 47), which might be slightly too old to be recording “O Come All Ye Faithful” as a goof. But hey, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. They’re also donating the profits to SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) so at least they’re getting into the holiday spirit.
Please, if you care about your loved ones at all, don’t buy them a punk Christmas album this holiday season, whether as a joke or not. These albums should replace coal as the modern go-to gift signifying that you’ve been a terrible human being all year.
And if you’re in a punk band thinking of covering a Christmas song, forget it. Leave it to a professional. Like Kenny Fucking G.
Dan Ozzi is a contributing editor at Noisey and wishes he was Jewish every time he hears a Christmas song. Follow him on Twitter - @danozzi