With Halloween just over four weeks away, our attention naturally turns to Christmas. It truly is the most wonderful time, two months before the most wonderful time of the year, and how better to get into the Christmas spirit than with some Christmas music? Or should we say “Christmas spirit,” with extra emphasis on the vaguely ironic, chortle-inducing quote marks?
Yesterday it was announced that two kitschy holiday music collections of indeterminate comedic intent will be cringing up Christmas parties from Williamsburg, Kentucky, to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Actually, we’re pretty sure that This Christmas, the upcoming seasonal release from John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, is merely unintentionally hilarious. This Christmas doesn’t drop until November 13, so all we have to go on is the album cover, which depicts the Grease co-stars enjoying a hot-cocoa-and-gift-wrapping soiree in a highly uncandid manner. It’s an image that, for many of us, positively screams Christmas: outwardly festive, inwardly repressed, helplessly cheery, but only in a forced, passive-aggressive way.
But is the music as cheesy as the cover? According to Entertainment Weekly, This Christmas includes guest appearances by Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand. Still not cheesy enough for you? What if we raise you one Kenny G cameo and a song called “I Think You Might Like It” that’s described as a sequel to the Grease song “You’re The One That I Want” and is written by the guy who penned “Hopelessly Devoted to You”? Okay, we honestly sort of love “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” so maybe This Christmas has already won us over.
The other Yuletide musical platter of questionable quirk value comes from Sufjan Stevens, the cherubic boy genius of heart-explodingly precious indie rock. Pitchfork reports that Stevens will also release his new Christmas music box set, Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Volumes 6–10, on November 13. It's a follow-up to another holiday box set Stevens released in 2006; for those unfamiliar with Stevens, he is to indie Christmas music what Michael Bublé is to mainstream Christmas music, only with more cat sweaters.
There’s no Kenny G on Silver & Gold, sadly, but the set does include guest spots from a galaxy of indie stars, including members of The National and Arcade Fire. There’s also a bevy of extra treats, including posters, lyric sheets, temporary tattoos, a holiday ornament, stickers, and (if you buy the vinyl set) a coloring book. OMG, we’re totally giggling into our hands right now! Pitchfork has streaming audio of the original composition “Christmas Unicorn,” which we’re told runs 12½ minutes, though we’ve yet to make it past 60 seconds in our last three tries.