Oh boy! It’s Christmastime!
And what is the greatest gift that I have, for you? At this time of Christmas?
Why, only the finest of teen pop Christmas long players, that’s what!!
Ho ho ho. Oh whoa ho ho. Yes, it’s me, Santa Sean Rose Claus. It is sweet Santa Christmastime and I’m here to talk to all of my friends (elves??) about some notable Christmas albums released by teen pop artists. Because this! This is the time of year to talk about them! To get in that Hot Holiday Spirit.
Now I admit that I would not bother to talk about these records at any other time of year. Not only because it would be weird to talk about Christmas music in the horrible July months, but ’cause I have never viewed teen pop Christmas albums in the highest of regard. Because you know. They’re cash grabs. Money suckers. Adult pleasers. Products pushed out by bad man record execs in the first year of a teen pop act’s existence, capitalizing on a springtime hit single, covering up a dearth of new original material with a lot of lame slow covers of boring old Christmas hits originated by old people. Just the idea of a teen pop Christmas album is oxymoronic, constraining young modern hot-to-trot teen poppers to unsexy conservative snooze music. It doesn’t… work. It doesn’t make sense.
But y’know, that’s just my knee-jerk judgement! Without listening to any of the music! How Scroogelike of me. At their best, teen pop Christmas albums give these acts the chance to ignore the restrictions of their standard albums and goof around with some new fun stuff. That’s the ideal. Heck, sometimes a teen pop group’s christmas track ends up being one of their best songs!!
But sometimes not. Sometimes not. At. All.
So considering that I will never bother listening to these records at any other time during Digital Get Down‘s existence (except for next Christmas I guess), I figure it would be worthwhile to run down some notable teen pop Christmas records I took valuable time out of my late night carrolling sessions to listen to. They’ll be useful if you need a warm, hunky stocking stuffer to grab last minute out of an X-Change $1 bin for one of your ugliest brothers.
Ho Ho Ho! Why, let’s go!
*NSYNC – Home For Christmas (1998)
America’s Hottest Boys of the Late Nineties are ready to bring ya some holly jolly tunes, fresh off their big-fat-hit self titled record released earlier that year. *NSYNC’s christmas album might be the purest, most archetypical boy band Christmas record yet released: a bunch of new lite-pop songs about Christmas, mixed in with some golden oldie traditionals for the grandaddies to love. And, dependably, the new songs are competent & fun while the golden oldies are slow and dull. Of course.
The problem here: by the time of Home For Christmas‘s release, the Sync Buddies were still a year away from No Strings Attached, the record that knocked off their schmaltz shoes and turned them into a hypermodern hard-dance Boypacalypse. So original tunes like “Under My Tree” and “Home For Christmas” drift by without doin a whole lot, and dull as dishwater covers of “The Christmas Song” and “The First Noel” are too reverent for their own good. Singing like they want to make their mommies happy. Which is fine! Mommies are nice & deserve happiness. But if you’re not gonna do anything interesting with these covers, I am not gonna listen to em.
The good news: the boys got charismatic vocals, and there are two solid gems – the uppity cute New Years anthem “Kiss Me At Midnight,” and the unparralleled “Merry Christmas Happy Holidays,” one of *NSYNC’s very best songs and my personal favorite Christmas song of all time. The least shitty boy band Christmas song ever penned. The warmth! The gifts! The JC! The Justin! The Chris sometimes! The obligatory all-inclusive “no matter what your holiday – it’s a time to celebrate!” The perfect blend of boy band radioness and Christmas cheer! I love it. I’ll always love it.
BOTTOM LINE: By-the-book stuff. Leans heavy on the ballady dull side. “Merry Christmas Happy Holidays” and “Kiss Me At Midnight” are sweet gems, though.
Sad to say – this will be the last time I write about an *NSYNC release in Digital Get Down. I’m tapped outta records. Bye boys! Wave goodbye! Unless you reunite maybe! But until then, goodbye forever!
Christina Aguilera – My Kind Of Christmas (2000)
Christina’s yuletide thing has only a few originals, followed by a whole lot of traditional covers. Man, lots of em. The two originals that kick the record off are pretty fun – “Christmas Time” and “This Year” are straight-up Aguilera dance-pop tracks that just happen to be about Christmas, and are all the better for it. I was going to describe them as “bold & brassy” but I had to stop myself, because man. What a terrible way to describe a song. Terrible. “Brassy.” What… does that mean. When aggressive R&B songs sung by ladies are described as “brassy.” Could someone send me a gmail and tell me. Please: email@example.com. Please talk to me about “brassy.”
But then you get to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and there goes all the energy. You can feel your soul fallin asleep. And then comes the super all-over-the-place oversinging. Lots of that.
Hey. I don’t wanna knock Christina too much for the oversinging, cuz she gets knocked for that a lot and I don’t wanna join the Mean Gang. She has a powerful voice and she wants to show it off. I get it! But on My Kind Of Christmas it gets to the point where she can’t get through a single syllable without going up and down and all around with those notes. It’s not like “Genie In A Bottle” or “Come On Over Baby” or whathaveyou – these are not songs that were written to match her voice. These are simple old-fashioned melodies. So she’s trying to make em more powerful by hypervocalizing every note. I get it! But it’s kind of stifling.
BOTTOM LINE: The first two tracks are fun! Everything else, not my speed. Another cover of “The Christmas Song.” A duet with Dr. John on “Merry Christmas Baby.” OK.
New Kids On The Block – Merry, Merry Christmas (1989)
“This is a very serious message, so all of you – please listen.” These are the first words you will hear on Merry, Merry Christmas, words that may cut hard into your Scrooge heart and make you think you’ve entered Christmas cornball purgatory. And with “This One’s For The Children,” a sub-“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” anthem that makes zero to no sense coming from a bunch of coiffed boy band hunks, you might be correct.
But then that song ends! And then the fun begins!! Teen pop supergod Maurice Starr graced his boys with some of the most over-the-top goofball Christmas tunes ever penned, and the boys deliver em with gonzo joy. Donnie Wahlberg’s wacko vocal on “Last Night I Saw Santa Claus” is worth the price of admission here alone. “Funky, Funky Xmas” – good lord. Hilarious & adorable “I’ll Be Missin You Come Christmas” starts with the INCREDIBLE line “Did you ever start to cry over something you just wrote?”
Jesus, it’s a song where Jordan Knight writes a letter to Santa about how much he misses his girlfriend. “This boy’s letter to Santa Claus / is gonna tear him up / when he reads how much I’m missin her / it’s gonna tear him up!” Jordan that is lame as hell. Santa don’t care. If you miss your lady friend you can talk to your boy Sean Rose. Damn, Jordan. If you got feelins about a lady I wanna hear about em. Damn boy. Gimme a hug.
Then there are standards. “The Christmas Song” pffff. “Little Drummer Boy.” PHHHgg. “White Christmas” uFFFFFFFHAAAAA
BOTTOM LINE: Fun as a butt! Maurice Starr’s killin it with the originals! Only three lame as hell covers!! Recommended.
New Edition – Christmas All Over The World (1985)
New Edition! I love these guys! I barely remember a single song from this album!
Gosh, I feel bad admitting that. I’m sorry fellas. It’s only six tracks long. As far as I can tell, the Jackson 5 cover “Give Love On Christmas Day” is the only cover here. Everything else is new. That’s neat! Ricky, Ralph, Michael and Ronnie share sole songwriting credits on a few tracks. That’s boffo! This was Bobby Brown’s last album with the group. Compelling! Adorable spoken word bits about how much they love their families and each other. Adorable!
But ah. Not too much else to say. I’m sorry guys. I’m gonna give you some super glowing reviews soon. I promise.
BOTTOM LINE: Six sweet & smooth Christmas ballads. You might not get too much out of em but they feel good. No wigged out crazy fun tracks like the New Kids, but it’s OK. I love these guys.
98 Degrees – This Christmas (1999)
buggghhhhhh ahhhhhhhh fffffaa.
“God Rest Ye Merry GentlmUHHHH uhhhhhhUHHHHH pUHHHHH. “Oh HolIIIFFFFFFUDDGH. “Little DrummeFUCK. FUCk. “Ave MarNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN “The Christmas SonOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFF
Jeff Timmons solo compositHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUAAAAAAAAA
BOTTOM LINE: “This Gift” is always nice. Everything else HOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAFFFFFFFF
Destiny’s Child – 8 Days Of Christmas (2001)
Our opening lyrics: “On the 8th day of Christmas my baby gave to me / A pair of chloe shades & a diamond belly ring / On the 7th day of Christmas my baby gave to me / A nice back rub and he massaged my feet.”
Well! Well well well. If you are not immediately sold on the Destiny’s Child Christmas record after hearing these words, then we are two people of diverging musical tastes and I will respect your opinion although I disagree with it. Have a nice day.
Man, I like this one a lot! The originals are solid as heck, even if there aren’t many of them! “8 Days Of Christmas” is about as pure Destiny’s Child as a Christmas song can get and “Winter Paradise” is a smooth as hell should-be Christmas classic. And yes, there are a lot of covers here, but hey! They’re pretty good and not boring!
Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle and made some good “let’s not make our Christmas album suck” decisions here. For one they shoved like 30 Christmas standards into one 4-minute track dubbed “A ‘DC’ Christmas Medley,” mushing them into a super-entertaining R&B goop; they DC’d the fuck out of “Silent Night” and turned it into the unbelievable “Platinum Bells”; they made most of the other standards they covered sound like hyped-up Destiny’s Child jam, to the point where they barely resemble their original recordings; and – their greatest achievement by far – they didn’t record “The Christmas Song.” They didn’t do it! Good for them!!
BOTTOM LINE: Man, it’s fun! These ladies are having a fun Christmastime! If you are a Destiny’s Child fan and avoided this one cuz of schmaltzfear, give it a shot.
Hanson – Snowed In (1997)
Aww YEAH HYEAH HAH. This is the one, guys! This is THE teen pop Christmas jam!!
Are you surprised? You should not be surprised. Hanson, you guys. These kids.
Snowed In was rush-released around Christmas ’97 to capitalize on Hanson’s “MMMBop” buzz that would sadly fade shortly after. Considering that this thing was probably knocked out in an afternoon, it defies all logic that it would be nearly as entertaining as Middle Of Nowhere. But it is! Somehow it is.
Here is why. Not unlike Destiny’s Child, Hanson seemed determined to not make their Christmas album suck. For one, instead of packing their album with dull old standards that have nothing to do with them like every other group on this list, they picked the most fun joyous Christmas songs you can name. “Merry Christmas Baby”! “What Christmas Means To Me”! “Baby Please Come Home”! “Run Rudolph Run”! “Little Saint Nick”! NOT “The Christmas Song”! And not only do these tunes fit Hanson’s fun-all-the-time bubblegum-soul aesthetic to the letter, they aren’t dull respectful retreads of the original records. Check out that cover of “Little Saint Nick” – they treat it like it’s a Stax single! They Hansonned the fuck out of it! ISAAC sings lead! Take that, Mike Love!!
And then there three well-crafted originals, including “Everybody Knows the Claus,” one of the best songs about Santa Claus ever written by a bunch of teenagers. It is a song about how Santa Claus is a fat man and likes to eat, and you shouldn’t mess with him. Opening lyrics:
“Don’t you smell the cookies he’s bakin’ / Can’t you see that belly, its shakin’ / Don’t take a cookie off of that pan / You don’t want to mess with this man!”
Another lyric: “Don’t forget the donuts!”
That’s it. What else do I have to say?
BOTTOM LINE: Did I mention that Taylor’s voice dropped between this record and Middle Of Nowhere?? Because it did! He sounds great! Aww man, Hanson. Hanson rules. This one is the best.
Well, that will do it for now. Gosh, I am full of Christmas warmth! Seven teen pop Christmas albums in a row! I’m sure there were many that I missed, sadly. If I missed your personal favorite teenybopper Christmas long player, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line “A Lump of Coal For This Naughty Boy.” I will then report you for spam & abuse & get your Ymail account shut down. Because that is NOT in the Christmas spirit, you Krumpus asshole. Wait til next year.
Either way, I hope this has been a helpful guide for you. Now you will know which teen pop Christmas albums to pick out while scrounging through the dollar bin at Walgreens to give to your annoying piece of shit ugly brother Alex as a terrible Christmas prank. Fuck off Alex. Naruto is lame and I have nothing else to say.
Have a Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah even though there are no teen pop Hannukah albums and there likely never will be! No matter what your holiday – it’s a time to celebrate!!