This week I picked up a new word: “over-rocker”. According to the local café guy, it’s something his friend uses in textile making, but to him - and now me - it’s also the perfect way to describe those once-awesome rock fossils who just refuse to die…and in the worst case scenario, live to make Christmas albums.


He’s at the ruthless end of fandom and reckons even a legend like the Boss needs to get it that while they may have been born to run, they should seriously learn to pull up before they over-rock. Wrecking Ball? “Waaay too cheesy”.

At least it wasn’t Chrissie-themed. Once the big names go the festive album there are those who’d argue the penalty should equal instant career death.

It certainly doesn’t appear to have upped the likes of past offenders like Michael Bolton (’This is the Time‘) or Mariah Carey (despite the sexy Santa body suit on the front of ‘Merry Christmas‘)—or Donny Osmond. And when metal badasses like Twisted Sister, or Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford get misty under the mistletoe you know they’re beyond the Brasso.

He’d be lynched by the latte crowd for saying so, but Mr Coffee reckons even a demi-god like Dylan may as well have popped his clogs the day ‘Christmas in the Heart’ hit iTunes.

Looking at the offenders of 2012, it‘s hard to disagree.

Exhibits A, B and C: Rod Stewart (‘Merry Christmas, Baby‘), Olivia Newton-John/John Travolta (‘This Christmas’) and recidivist Andre Rieu (‘December Lights‘).

Anyone who’s caught “I think you’ll like it” (Livvy and Johnny’s yueltide single which went up on The Punch yesterday) would have to agree that a better title for that offering—apparently featuring a pair of reanimated zombies, one with Lego hair—may have been ‘Nightmare on Xmas Street’.

It is impossibly bad. Danny and Sandy would be spinning in their leathery graves.

It may make the pair a few quick bucks - which, to their credit, are to be directed to good causes. But if they’re hoping it fires up their fan base a look over shoulders at the fortunes of last year’s Christmas popsters will not be a source of cheer.

Anyone heard much of a peep from Michael Buble this year (other than the fact that he and Reese Witherspoon have just announced a duet for 2013)?

And last time I checked, what was left of Justin Bieber’s cred had slumped to the point where he was just about booed off stage in his home country at the half-time show of its biggest sports event, the Grey Cup.

Bieber (whose 2011 release was ‘Under the Mistletoe’) was upstaged by a medley from 74-year-old Gordon Lightfoot, whom the crowd loved…presumably because he’s never done a Christmas album.

No, for mine there’s only one way to make a Christmas hit that really works; do it with tone. Think of the best ever Christmas song, The Pogues and Kirsty McColl’s ‘Fairytale in New York’ - nailed all the syrupy sentiment and proved you can do it with little in the way of teeth.

And what about that 70s classic ‘Christmas with the Brady Bunch’ (so well-loved for its rich vein of humour it was re-released in 1995), or David Hasselhoff’s 2004 catalogue of carols ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

His fans may have fretted that it was too dangerous a move, even for the Hoff. But God rest ye, merry gentlemen…surely he was taking the piss.

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    • egg says:

      12:11pm | 07/12/12

      It’s the same as comedians who - upon reaching, say, 45 - start making nothing but dodgy kids movies. That trend has ruined far too many awesome careers.

    • martinX says:

      01:17pm | 07/12/12

      Maybe their careers aren’t that awesome anymore, or maybe travelling around the world playing pubs and clubs is starting to get a bit wearisome.

    • egg says:

      04:52pm | 07/12/12

      Not just stage comedians, mind… refer to Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy for clarification of the type I’m talking about.

      No matter how bad your career is, you have the option to say ‘no’ to a shite movie. Or album.

    • Amanda says:

      12:35pm | 07/12/12

      Love the Pogues Fairytale in New York. Any Christmas song which can incorporate the work “ass” into the lyrics is a winner for me.  But more seriously, it is far more indicattive of the reality of Christmas of those doing it tough and missing the Christmas spirit.

    • lostinperth says:

      12:50pm | 07/12/12

      I must say that Annie Lennox did a Christmas Album a few years ago that wasn’t too bad. It was carols with an Annie Lennox twist rather then the pop scmaltz that rates somewhere between elevator music and torture.

      Nothing says tasteless like a Rod Stewart Christmas Album - the perfect gift for saying ” I have no taste, I think you have no taste either and I lack the imagination to find you a present you may like”

    • AdamC says:

      01:58pm | 07/12/12

      To be fair, Rod Stewart will be laughing all the way to the bank for superannuated superstarts with the proceeds from his Xmas album. Ageing baby-boomers may not be cool, but they probably still by CDs.

    • Melissa Hoyer says:

      01:10pm | 07/12/12

      Lego hair . Very, very funny . . .

    • martinX says:

      01:19pm | 07/12/12

      Wouldn’t his friend in textile making use an overlocker? I looked up over-rocker but couldn’t find any refs.

    • ronny jonny says:

      04:01pm | 07/12/12

      It’s over rocker if you are Asian, ah so!

    • Ally says:

      01:34pm | 07/12/12

      I notice you conveniently didn’t mention the fact that Michael Buble’s Christmas album was the second highest selling album of 2011 behind Adele’s 21, despite the fact it was only released in November. Or that he underwent the same lengthy recording process as he does for his other albums, as opposed to rocking up to the studio for a day like many of the other artists on your list have no doubt done.

      Yeah, I’m a fan of the Buble. And I’m a fan of Christmas albums. There’s a LOT of crap ones, but also some good ones - Phil Spector’s Christmas album, She and Him, a bit of classic Dean Martin.

    • Arnold Layne says:

      01:47pm | 07/12/12

      If you want a classy Christmas album, check out the new one by The Idea Of North.  All class, and they’re Australian.

      Anyway, this piece talked about things being cheesy, and then used the abbreviation “Chrissie” in the third paragraph.  That’s like fingernails down a blackboard in terms of Christmas tackiness.

    • Rickster says:

      02:35pm | 07/12/12

      Gordan Lightfoot up staged Beiber because of actually being a muso and having some sort of content to the songs and also he’s not just some manufactured plastic puppet. As for old rockers I’m one and if I ever stop rockin’ it wont be because some upstart says I’m to old and it’s not over rocker it’s called an over-locker Mr Coffee!

    • Josephine says:

      03:38pm | 07/12/12

      Releasing a ‘Christmas’ album is the musical equivalent of ‘jumping the shark’.

    • James of Fremantle says:

      03:47pm | 07/12/12

      Fairytale of New York is a magnificent song. I play it every Christmas, along with How to Make Gravy, (why was that song not mentioned in the article? Australian classic). I also listen to Christmas songs by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Bruce Springsteen, She and Him, Sarah McLaclan, Judy Garland, Jack Jones, Bobby Vinton, The Beach Boys, John Lennon, Diana Krall, The Carpenters, Burl Ives, Roberta Flack, Sufjan Stevens, The Temptations, Wynton Marsalis, Willie Nelson….

      You get the picture. It has long been a great tradition for musicians of all styles to record Christmas songs.

      If one is prone to attacking the latest teen sensation like Justin Bieber, who I just ignore as he is not aimed at my demographic. One is also likely to attempt the attainment of cool by labelling Christmas songs as cheesy.

      I bet Christmas is a lot of fun at your house !!!!!!

    • bigmuzz says:

      04:52pm | 07/12/12

      I’m also a massive fan of Fairytale of New York & How To Make Gravy. Just to add to these lists: search Youtube for live version of Tom Waits “Silent Night/Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis”, absolutely brilliant.

      Also, Tim Minchin “White Wine in the Sun”, its simply beautiful.

      Merry Christmas y’all smile

    • Ken Oath says:

      05:37pm | 07/12/12

      1979 - The Greedy Bastards (members of Thin Lizzy & the Sex Pistols) record and perform live a few Christmas carols.

      My nomination for the best festive recording of all time!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN2bcS9shuY

 

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