15 Bizarre Holiday Albums

It seems like everybody and their mom and dads has released a Christmas album. For some artists, like Mariah Carey, it means selling millions of copies. But who wants to hear Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas” when you can hear a former reality show loser sing it? ‘Tis the season to forgo listening to your traditional holiday songs and opt for something a bit more unusual.

1. HUNG FOR THE HOLIDAYS // WILLIAM HUNG

Hung appeared as a contestant on American Idol in 2004 and blew the world away with his rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” Actually, he did not advance to the next round, but a cult following soon manifested. His career culminated (ended) in October of 2004, when he released his second album, Hung for the Holidays, which only sold 35,000 copies. He sings, off-key, “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy,” and then randomly covers Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” After the failure of this record and the release of a third and final album, Hung retired from music.

2. CHRISTMAS ON DEATH ROW // VARIOUS ARTISTS

Released 20 years ago, Christmas on Death Row is a compilation of various artists on the Death Row label. The music isn’t the worrisome thing here—it’s the album cover depicting Santa in the electric chair. (Don’t show it to grandma or the kids.) Songs include hits Snoop and Nate Dogg’s "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto" and 6 Feet Deep's cover of “Silent Night.” If you like your holiday tunes filled with curse words, this one’s for you.

3. CHRISTMAS WITH COLONEL SANDERS // VARIOUS ARTISTS

Honestly, this album has nothing to do with the finger-lickin’ Colonel except for the awesome album cover of him smiling while wearing a Santa hat (he could easily be mistaken for Santa, so maybe that’s the point). The album, released in 1969 (vintage!), features musical legends Chet Atkins covering “Jingle Bell Rock” and Harry Belafonte singing “Mary’s Little Boy Child.”

4. IT’S A WAFFLE HOUSE CHRISTMAS // VARIOUS ARTISTS

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Spending Christmas at the Waffle House sounds like fun. They’re open 24/7, you know. According to AllMusic.com, this is the second album the legendary chain has released, and it was compiled by Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, the guys responsible for the 1982 novelty song “Pac-Man Fever.”

There are traditional songs on the album, but few can top “Waffle House 12 Days of Christmas,” in which a couple sings, “My true love gave to me, 10 cups of coffee, eight chicken sandwiches, seven T-bone steaks, four eggs a fryin’, three sausage patties, two waffles baking, and a bowl of delicious hot grits” without a bit of irony.

5. MR. HANKEY’S CHRISTMAS CLASSICS // VARIOUS ARTISTS

On December 1, 1999, South Park aired a holiday-themed episode that featured a literal piece of crap coming alive and singing Christmas songs. One week before the episode’s premiere, the album was released. It includes songs from the episode, and a festive cover featuring Mr. Hankey chilling by the fire. Choice cuts include Mr. Garrison's “Merry F---king Christmas” and Mr. Hankey himself—“howdy ho!”—singing “Santa Claus Is On His Way.”

6. A ROSIE CHRISTMAS // VARIOUS ARTISTS

This album was just an excuse for then-daytime talk show host Rosie O’Donnell to brag about how she was buddies with Celine Dion, Elton John, and Elmo, then sing middling duets with them. Cher contributes (read: butchers) a dance-electro version of Darlene Love’s already-perfect “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” while Gloria Estefan and Rosie sing “Gonna Eat for Christmas.” Lauryn Hill’s funky “Little Drummer Boy” seems to be the only saving grace—until Rosie chimes in and ruins it.

7. MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS // NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Released in 1989, at the height of NKOTB’s fame, this holiday record sold two million copies. You have to at least give the boy band props for writing a few original songs such as the sappy “This One’s for the Children”—which was a top 10 hit—and “Funky, Funky, Xmas,” which tries a bit too hard to emulate “Christmas in Hollis.” *NSYNC and Hanson also released Christmas records, so having boy bands release holiday albums is not an anomaly; the fact that NKOTB took the material so seriously is what makes it an oddity.

8. A HEAVY METAL CHRISTMAS EP // CHRISTOPHER LEE

The heavy metal lover never released a full Christmas album, but he did release the EP, A Heavy Metal Christmas, in 2012, containing metal covers of “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night.” The following year the prince of darkness released A Heavy Metal Christmas Too, including the song “Jingle Hell.” Last year he contributed “Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing," which would sadly be his last metal Christmas song, as he passed away in June 2015 at the age of 93.

9. JINGLE BABIES // ROCKABYE CHRISTMAS

First we had Jingle Cats, which was annoying but somewhat cute. Then the same guy behind Jingle Cats and Jingle Dogs released Jingle Babies in 1997, which is baby sounds edited together into super annoying “songs.” The babies aren’t singing as much as they are cooing and whining through “Jingle Bells,” “Up on the Housetop,” and “Carol of the Bells.” The album’s tagline reads “Real babies sing holiday classics,” but it’s unknown if real babies approve.

10. AND 11. YULETIDE DISCO AND DISCO NOEL // MIRROR IMAGE

Disco was huge in the 1970s, and apparently so were disco Christmas albums. Mirror Image released at least two Christmas records: Yuletide Disco and Disco Noel. The former features saxophone-enhanced versions of “Good King Wenceslas” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and aren’t as disco-y as you’d hope. Then there’s "Dear Santa, Let’s Disco" by Snowflake, which should get the holiday festivities started. While you’re at it, you might as well listen to “Disco Duck.”

12. CHRISTMAS AT LUKE’S SEX SHOP // LUKE CAMPBELL

The Miami rap group 2 Live Crew created a lot of controversy in the 1990s, so why not add fuel to the fire with a Christmas record? Throughout the 1994 album, MC Luther Campbell raps untraditional Christmas songs, such as “Ho Ho Hoes,” “2 Live Christmas, “Christmas Spliff,” and “Christmas F---in’ Day,” which sounds a lot like “Gin and Juice.” Campbell went legit and now writes for the Miami New Times.

13. THIS CHRISTMAS // OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN AND JOHN TRAVOLTA

The friends sang together in Grease and the guilty pleasure film Two of a Kind, and one morning in 2012 they woke up and decided that, because it had been 30 years since they had worked together, it was time to put out a Christmas album. The couple duet on the standards “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” featuring Barbra Streisand. But Travolta can’t sing, and the album cover is just plain scary.

14. A COLT 45 CHRISTMAS // AFROMAN

A parody Christmas record, from a Grammy-nominated rapper? Yup. In 2006, Afroman took a debauched look at Christmas with songs named “Deck My Balls” and other titles we shouldn’t repeat, plus the new classic “O Chronic Tree”: “O Chronic tree, oh chronic, I want you all for me.”

15. THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR // SCOTT WEILAND

In 2011, the late Stone Temple Pilots frontman released this bizarre album. The fact that he released a traditional Christmas album isn’t even the weirdest part though; it’s that he, for some reason, infused reggae and steel drum on “Oh Holy Night” and croons through the rest of the record. Listening to the songs, you wouldn’t know it was from a former grunge singer.

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Want to Recycle Your Christmas Tree? Feed It to an Elephant
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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When the holiday season finally comes to a close, people get creative with the surplus of dead Christmas trees. One San Francisco-based artist transformed brittle shrubs into hanging installation pieces. Others use pine needles for mulch, or repurpose trees into bird sanctuaries. For the average person, sticking it into a wood chipper or "treecycling" it as part of a community program are all eco-friendly ways to say goodbye to this year's Douglas fir. None of these solutions, however, are as cute as the waste-cutting strategy employed by some zoos around the world: giving them to elephants.

Each year, zookeepers at Tierpark Berlin—a facility that bills itself as “Europe’s largest adventure animal park”—feed the elephants unsold pine trees. The plants are reportedly pesticide-free, and they serve as a good (albeit prickly) supplement to the pachyderms' usual winter diets.

A bit closer to home, the residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee rely on local residents to take part in their annual Christmas Tree Drive. In addition to being nutrient-rich, the tree's needles are said to help aid in an elephant's digestion. But beyond all that, it's pretty adorable to watch.

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5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree
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What’s the environmentally safest way to dispose of your Christmas tree? It’s hard to say. Grown, managed, transported, and recycled efficiently, a real Christmas tree’s environmental impact should be near neutral. Unfortunately, not all Christmas tree plantations are equal in their environmental impact.

The most eco-friendly way is to leave the tree in the ground, where it belongs, so you never have to dispose of it. But then you don't have a Christmas tree in your house to bring festive cheer. One thing you can do is be environmentally smart when it comes to the tree's disposal. After this festive season, why not try one of these eco-friendly methods.

1. CHIP IT.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a big wood-chipper, you may be able to chip the entire tree. Wood-chip is great as a decorative landscaping material. But if you really want to do great things for the environment (and if you have access to a lot of Christmas trees), you could make a bioreactor to denitrify water. Nitrates are put on farms across the world to help increase crop output, but a considerable amount is washed away into lakes and rivers where it’s disastrous for fish and potentially toxic for people. A wood chip bioreactor encourages the growth of bacteria that break down the nitrates in the drainage water, reducing the amount that gets into the water supply. It's not a simple project, however. To make one, you have to dig a big trench, get the water to flow through said trench, and fill it with wood chips. More info can be found here [PDF].

2. CRAFT IT.


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If your tree hasn’t yet let go of its needles—and you haven’t yet let go of Christmas, get crafty with it. Cut off small branches and bind them around a circle of wire to make an attractive wreath. This looks even better if some of the cones are still attached. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could set up an essential oil extractor to get a supercharged Christmas scent. If you are already distilling alcohol, you have everything you need (here's how to do it). With a little less effort and equipment, you can make a weaker liquid called hydrosol, which is a fragrant condensate water containing water-soluble parts of the needles.

3. STICK IT.

Many legumes, such as garden peas, are thigmotropic, meaning that they respond to objects they touch, growing in coils along or up them. Needle-free Christmas tree branches have lots of twigs, texture, and knobby protrusions for peas and beans to get a grip on. This allows them to grow upwards strongly toward light. Simply stick a small tree branch in the soil next to each new shoot for a free, effective legume-climbing frame. Another advantage of this technique is that it makes grazing animals less likely to munch those tender green shoots, as they tend to avoid getting Christmas tree twigs spiked up their noses.

4. TREECYCLE IT.


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Come January, it’s cold, the festivities are over, work looms, and you’ve got too much on your mind to be thinking about dead Christmas tree horticulture or crafts. Fortunately, a simple solution is at hand: Most counties and municipalities now provide Christmas tree recycling points where you can take your tree for chipping. Some “TreeCycle” points will even exchange your tree for a bag of wood-chip or chip mulch. OK, this probably means that you’ll have to jam that Christmas tree into your car once more, but as long as you don’t have to drive too many miles out of your way, Christmas tree recycling is a quick and easy environmentally-friendly option.

5. DONATE IT.

After you’ve had your Christmas cheer, why shouldn’t fish have some fun? Several communities have programs in place where they’ll take your old Christmas tree, drill a hole in the base, tie a brick to it, and throw it in a lake. When humans create artificial lakes, they tend to be relatively featureless on the bottom for easy dredging. That’s great for us, but it means baby fish have nowhere to escape predators. Christmas trees provide a nice, temporary place for the fish to hide out and explore.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to see your Christmas tree mauled by a pride of lions, that’s OK too! Some zoos around the world take Christmas tree donations (but please remove all the tinsel first) and allow the animals to play with them.

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