Right now, as soon as you can either get to year nearest music retailer or click over to iTunes or Amazon, you can buy the first holiday-themed 2012 album we have heard of, Jason Gray's Christmas Stories: Repeat the Sounding Joy. If that sounds early to you, well, yeah, but we actually got the email announcing the album back in early August, when we were still leaving the refrigerator open at night to give our beleagured window-unit AC a break.
Gray (no relation) is a Minneapolis-based Christian singer-songwriter whose previous album, 2011's A Way to See In the Dark, reached No. 15 on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart and even grazed the magazine's Heatseekers chart as well. So for him, a Christmas album -- one with actual hymns, too -- is both a perfectly logical career move and something he no doubt put a lot of time and care in creating.
That would make Gray the exception. Releasing holiday albums while CVS is still selling Halloween candy is an old tradition within the music business, almost as old as squeezing out totally superfluous product any rational-minded consumer could scarcely believe anyone would actually buy, let alone manufacture. We don't know what else might lie in store, but based on the holiday-record PR we've gotten here so far at Rocks Off HQ, 2012 is already such an appalling year we couldn't help but call on Willie Soke from Bad Santa for a few words of comfort and joy.
5. Celtic Woman, Home for Christmas
Terrifying Email Headline: "CELTIC WOMAN TO RELEASE SECOND HOLIDAY ALBUM, ENTITLED HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, ON OCTOBER 9TH"
Boilerplate PR Copy: "This is the all-female Irish music ensemble's second Christmas album and features such holiday favorites as 'Winter Wonderland, 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' and the Christmas classic 'Silent Night.'"
Oddest Guest Appearance: Celtic Woman's touring company, with a full symphony orchestra, will be guesting at College Station's Rudder Arena December 18 on their "2012 Christmas Celebration Symphony Tour."
Bad Santa Says: "Somebody drop you on your fucking head?"
4. Chicago, Ultimate Christmas Collection
Terrifying Email Headline: "Chicago's New 'Ultimate Christmas Collection' Concocts 2-Hour, 34-Song Holiday Party"
Boilerplate PR Copy: "Hailed as one of the 'most important bands in music since the dawn of the rock and roll era' by former President Bill Clinton, Chicago is the first American band to chart Top 40 albums in five consecutive decades and Billboard's highest charting American band of all time."
Oddest Guest Appearance: Steve Cropper of Booker T & the MGs and the Blues Brothers Band on "Rockin' and Rollin' on Christmas Day," narrowly beating out '70s folk-rockers America ("I Saw Three Ships") and Dolly Parton ("Wonderful Christmas Time")
Bad Santa Says: "Wanna see some magic? OK, let's watch you disappear!"
3. Christina Perri, A Very Merry Perri Christmas
Terrifying Email Headline: "First Listen: Christina Perri's 'Something About December'"
Boilerplate PR Copy: "A Very Merry Perri Christmas pairs an all-new seasonal staple, 'Something About December,' alongside unique renditions of such Yuletide favorites as The Carpenters' 'Merry Christmas Darling' and [late Galveston native] Charles Brown's 'Please Come Home For Christmas.' "
Oddest Guest Appearance: Perri, iTunes' Breakthrough Pop Artist of 2011, opened Jason Mraz's summer U.S. tour. We didn't go.
Bad Santa Says: "Jesus fuckin' Christ."
2. Various Artists, A Very Special Christmas: 25th Anniversary Edition
Terrifying Email Headline: "A Very Special Christmas -- 25th Anniversary Edition/Artists lineup & Music Links"
Boilerplate PR Copy: "The talent lineup is stellar and the music is great. No wonder, as Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, said, 'The albums have become the largest single source of funding for the Special Olympics and its athletes.'"
Oddest Guest Appearance: We're gonna go with Cheap Trick ("I Want You For Christmas"), the only true rock and rollers among two discs stuffed with anodyne adult alternative (OneRepublic, Train) and Christian label Word Records' cleanup hitters (Francesca Battistelli, for KING & COUNTRY).
Bad Santa Says: "Shit, I don't care. Just leave me the hell out of it."
1. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, This Christmas
Terrifying Email Headline: "JOHN TRAVOLTA AND OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN REUNITE FOR FIRST TIME IN 30 YEARS FOR THIS CHRISTMAS ALBUM OUT NOV. 13"
Boilerplate PR Copy: "This Christmas is the audio equivalent of those classic network TV specials hosted from the stars' homes, an intimate, warm set of traditional holiday songs."
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Oddest Guest Appearance: John Farrar, who wrote Travolta and Newton-John's hit Grease duet "You're the One That I Want," returns to chip in the original "I Think You Might Like It."
Bad Santa Says: "Well, they can't all be winners."