Chris Schulz casts his eye over some of the silly season's Christmas releases.

Owen Wilson is having the worst Christmas ever. He's lonely, moping about his apartment, toying with a half-eaten bagel and looking depressed as he plays with the baubles on a sad little tree.

No wonder he's feeling down. Someone sent him a gift-wrapped pair of Christmas-themed Chuck Taylor shoes. Apart from hipster Santa, who would want to wear those?

I don't blame Wilson for being miserable. His sad sack mood in the video for the new Christmas charity single from The Killers, called Christmas in LA, sums up my attitude towards most Santa-themed sounds perfectly: Make Them Stop.

That dates back to when I was a poorly-paid supermarket shelf stacker in Wanganui where, for the entire month of December, Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas album was played on loop, all day, every day.


I can still repeat every single word acapella from her ubiquitous hit All I Want For Christmas Is You - even the "do do doo" part. Don't make me doo it, because I will.

Of course, this is a lucrative time for the music industry as every artist with a half-decent voice considers selling their soul and cashing in for the ultimate career stop-gap stocking filler, a Christmas hits album.

This year, from Mary J Blige's vaseline-soaked This Christmas to Kool & the Gang's fantastically titled Kool for the Holidays, serial Christmas-themed album offender Jewel on Let It Snow, to Susan Boyle's overly earnest efforts on Home For Christmas, it seems there are more options to soundtrack your Christmas Day than ever before.

Most of it is bottom of the barrel-raking drek, like Kelly Clarkson's Wrapped in Red. The Since You've Been Gone singer likes Christmas so much she penned five original songs for her first festive album - but you might want to read the online reviews before stuffing it a loved one's stocking.

Said one unhappy Amazon customer: "Every single song is a yelling match for the next one. If I could return it I would. Stop yelling!" You have been warned.

But I've done some research and there are two Christmas albums that might just be worthy of soundtracking the present- opening.

Why don't you try the Starship Foundation's Christmas Album 2013, which is great for two reasons: All proceeds go to Starship's National Air Ambulance Service, and it features only Kiwi artists, like Anika Moa, Julia Deans, Bic and Boh Runga, Tiki Taane and Peter Urlich. Plus, Jordan Luck teams up with Ruby Frost for Walking in the Air - who doesn't want to hear that?

Punk stalwarts Bad Religion are also getting into the Christmas spirit with Holiday Songs, an album which they say makes their "signature brand of sonically charged humanist dissent as relevant as ever and this Christmas season, just a little more ironic".

Erm, yeah. It's actually a rugged and rawkish take on classic Christmas hits that you should blast to help deter unwanted Christmas dinner guests. Twenty per cent of proceeds go to SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

And if you're still stuck for tunes this Christmas, you can't go past Bob Dylan's 2009 album Christmas in the Heart.

On it, Dylan warbles like your embarrassing uncle slumped drunk in a corner with a crooked party hat perched on his head, slurring his way through virtually unlistenable renditions of Little Drummer Boy and Must Be Santa while reeking of bourbon and stale mince pies.

Sounds like a real Christmas Day to me.

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- TimeOut