HO HO WHO: Workhorse Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue, whose 13th studio album, Kylie Christmas, throws together carbonated renditions of well-worn standards (“Let It Snow,” “Winter Wonderland”), some originals, and, for its fourth tra—sweet Mariah, I need a minute. ::breathes:: ::walks around living room:: ::downs bourbon shot::
And for its fourth tra—sorry, one moment. ::takes bite of reindeer jerky:: ::breathes::
And for its fourth track, the album has Minogue taking on The Waitresses’ 1981 new wave classic, “Christmas Wrapping” (!!) with accompanying vocals from iconic Stooges frontman Iggy Pop (!!!), who actually says the words, “Merry Christmas, baby” (!!!!). ::stabs eye with candy cane::
CHEER AND LOATHING: Minogue’s cover takes the roadmap of the original—that lightly funky riff, that rousing horn fanfare after the chorus—and Christmas-spirits it up to 11. The guitars are crunchy like roasted chestnuts, the vocals candy-coated and giddy. Thematically and musically, the Waitresses’ performance was about finding balance during a freighted season, to “catch my breath” and have a “Christmas by myself this year.” Minogue instead mounts a full-on glee assault, and as with so much yuletide music, it works: Listen over and over and bad becomes good, incessant becomes catchy, coals transmogrify into baubles, and everything means nothing. ‘Tis the season!
LURCH AND DESTROY: Pop, singing in a skuzzy-uncle growl, drops in every few lines to fill in the protagonist’s story of an unrequited ski-shop encounter. “Had his number but never the time,” Minogue sings, and Pop echoes, “Most of ’81 passed along those lines.” The fated Christmas Eve coming-together happens, and then the sleigh careens off the roof, with Pop bellowing “Merry Christmas!” and “ho ho ho!” The only thing that would be more jarring from Pop’s lips? A certain Stooges classic, rerecorded as “Now I Wanna Be Your Claus.”
CHEER FACTOR: 15/10. ::arranges to spend Christmas Eve in a sensory deprivation tank::