HO HO WHO: Cheap Trick, those venerable Chicago power-poppers, with a turned-to-11 album of Christmas tunes that’s a bit more interesting than the usual holiday cash grab. Yes, there’s a (rafters-raking) “Silent Night,” but the record is otherwise mostly split between Cheap Trick originals and beloved Christmas rockers, everything from “Run Rudolph Run” (popularized by Chuck Berry) to The Kinks’ “Father Christmas” to The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).” In their fist-pumping enthusiasm, the band kind of demelodicizes the last of those, but give them points for taste at least.
COMIC SANZ: A potentially gratifying song choice is “I Wish It Was Christmas Today,” a 17-year-old toss-away ditty that Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, and Tracy Morgan performed for the first of many times in a December 2000 skit on Saturday Night Live. But while the best version of this should-be standard—by The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas—is skuzzy, deadpan, and soaring when it needs to be, Cheap Trick’s take chugs harder than a sleigh running behind schedule, rocking a bit too hard for the song to do its usual Christmas chop-busting.
GRINCH BY GRINCH: But then again: Maybe I do wish it was Christmas today? Cheap Trick knows from delivering fist-pumpers, and here, it does, through sheer eagerness and gusto, manage to make those sleigh bells ring-a-ding-ding. Still, this song is begging to be updated for its interpreter’s times, as I’ve argued. How about, “I don’t care what the White House say/ I don’t care about the DOJ/ I wish it was Christmas today.”
CHEER FACTOR: 7/10. Wouldn’t recommend it after the third cup of egg nog, though.