2019 Christmas Album Hall of Fame Inductees

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Merry Christmas, folks, and RIP to the patron saint of the Brian’s Den, George Michael. It’s my great honor to present the 2019 inductions into the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. Founded last year, the Massapequa, New York landmark is opening its doors to welcome another class of legends. Icons who were left out in the cold on the first ballot get the relief and affirmation they’ve been seeking their entire careers and get a free trip to beautiful Massapequa. Visit Massapequa, because I get a tax break if enough people do.

The criteria for induction remains the same: some random combination of impact, sales, ubiquity, and general goodness. The biases of the committee, unfortunately, cannot be fully erased. Apologies to all the Dylan-heads out there. We’ll start with the Veteran’s Committee selections just to get them out of the way.

Veteran’s Committee Selections

Frank Sinatra- A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra

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There, your grandpa and/or overly proud Italian-American dad can stop boycotting the Hall now. Listen, I don’t care about Frank, so I just picked the first one that came up. Deal with it.

Signature Song:

Phil Spector- A Christmas Gift for You

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People forget Phil Spector killed someone, but that doesn’t disqualify him from the Hall. Our standards are pretty low, here, especially when the music is good. Nothing like a good old compilation album, even if everyone on it is an old singer you’ll be shamed for not knowing even though it’s pretty reasonable not to know who any of these people are. Origin album for a bunch of songs you’ve heard before.

Signature Song:

Only two this year, despite Louis Armstrong & Friends’ What a Wonderful Christmas receiving the necessary amount of votes. The Hall Chairman (me) hates “Zat You Santa Claus?” so passionately he refused to let it in. Shame.

Modern Entrants

Wham!- Last Christmas

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I’ll be honest, I don’t know what A-sides and B-sides are and how these old record sales work, but this was sold as a single, so it counts. I was outvoted last year, but without the obvious inclusions of the inaugural class, Wham! breezed through the voting. We all know that briansden69.com was founded on the eve of George Michael’s death, but don’t think that this got in for sentimental reasons. It got in because it’s one of the greatest original Christmas songs since color television was invented. Pour one out for the GOAT.

Signature Song: I wonder what it could be?

Michael Bolton- This is the Time: The Christmas Album

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Bolton. Christmas. Need I say more? No, I don’t. It’s in. He gets a little ahead of himself with two original songs, but the rest is pure Bolton. “O Holy Night” has never been the same since he hopped on the track, and his “White Christmas” is legendary. Putting this album on makes me want to get a perm-mullet and walk sensuously through the snow wearing a peacoat and boots that are a little too expensive to be wearing through inclement weather.

Signature Song:

Cee Lo Green- Cee Lo’s Magic Moment

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I don’t want to use hyperbole, but I think this might be the most underrated Christmas album ever. If Bublé is the king of retail Christmas, this album is the prince. Don’t believe me? Just think back to all the Christmas shopping you’ve done in brick and mortar stores since 2012 and realize how many of these songs you’ve heard. The answer is all of them. He completely flipped the “White Christmas” game on its head, which is enough to merit induction on its own. We value positive innovation, here.

Signature Song:

Leona Lewis- Christmas, With Love

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I honestly don’t know why L.L. isn’t the biggest star in the world, because she dominates every single song she’s ever recorded. Her voice is like a long gulp of water straight from a melting ice cap running down an Alpine stream after you just woke up but didn’t drink any water before bed so you’re unbelievably parched. I would listen to her sing absolutely anything. I would listen to her sing my 8th-grade science teacher’s evaluation of me that recommended my high school put me in the general group instead of the honors class and be thrilled about it. I would listen to her sing a collection of responses to any Star Wars Reddit post and be overcome with emotion. But yeah, this album’s awesome. It even has a good original song! That’s hard in a post “All I Want For Christmas” world.

Signature Song:

Various Artists- A Very Special Christmas

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Just a massive cast coming together to make the first in a long series, either the first or second is still the best. The first was selected, because why not go with the original? I admit that I couldn’t tell you much about the pop culture landscape of 1987, but how the hell did The Pretenders and Alison Moyet end up on the same album as Sting, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Spingsteen, U2, J.C.M. (John Cougar Mellencamp for the uninitiated), Bob Seger, and Bryan Adams? Let’s have some higher standards, here. Also, I’ve never listened to Bon Jovi’s “Back Door Santa” because there’s no way it could ever live up to my expectations of what it should be.

Signature Song: (reluctantly)

U2 sux, don’t @ me.

Kenny G- Miracles: The Holiday Album

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Our final entrant barely edged out *NSYNC’s Home for Christmas, because apparently the rest of the voting committee thinks that it “sucks.” You can’t teach taste, I guess. Special shoutout to YouTube comments on videos older than 15 months old saying “anyone here in 2019?” I’m here, man. I’m here. Anyway, your boy Kenny G. Don’t let anyone ever tell you Kenny G isn’t a force to be reckoned with. All he does is put out albums that do huge numbers, and Miracles is no different. Weird cover aside, it was the highest-selling Christmas album in two different years, which is pretty crazy when you think about the fact that it’s a Christmas album from Kenny G. He’s an easy target, but you can’t tell me that smooth soprano sax doesn’t hit you in your loins when he really gets it going. Miracles is pure “dang, can’t believe how hard it’s snowing out. You might as well stay here in this cabin with a big fire going” music. All the classics plus an original song that you can ignore because it’s Kenny G.

Signature Song:

Another year honoring beautiful Christmas albums in the books. If your favorite didn’t make, it’s probably time to ask yourself why you have such bad taste in holiday music (for housekeeping purposes, the two last cuts were the aforementioned *NSYNC and The Three Tenors’ A Tenors’ Christmas, which was bogged down by a never-ending tracklist) (Shoutout Jose Carreras. Everyone always talks about Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, but there had to be three tenors for The Three Tenors to be The Three Tenors. Don’t forget about my man Jose). Just make sure to visit the physical location in Massapequa, New York so I can get a tax write-off.

Merry Christmas

Introducing the Christmas Album Hall of Fame

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Folks, it’s almost Christmas. Less than a week, in fact. That means only one thing: it’s time to talk Christmas music again. If you remember Last Christmas, you know I laid out the case for Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red as the best Christmas album of the last 33 years and included some other modern classics. This year I thought I’d take the logical next step and create the Christmas Album Hall of Fame.

What is the Christmas Album Hall of Fame, you ask? Well, if you’re familiar with the concept of halls of fame, it’s that. It’s just a place where the best of the best are enshrined for eternity. Where is it? Why, it’s where all music lives, silly. In your heart. Also the physical location is in Massapequa, New York. The real estate was cheap, there.

Anyway, without further ado, I present the inaugural class in the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. There aren’t any specific qualifications, per se. It’s album sales, its’s cultural impact, it’s general quality. It’s kind of when you know, you know. And luckily for you, I know good Christmas albums. It’s what got me onto the selection committee, in the first place.

Veteran’s Committee Selections

Much like in sports halls of fame, the Veteran’s Committee exists to recognize the titans of years gone by. The names that may have been forgotten by the modern game, but whose importance and trailblazing cannot be overstated. In other words, it’s just old stuff.

Elvis- Elvis’ Christmas Album

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As the highest selling Christmas album of all time, Elvis probably would have made the Hall without the help of the Veteran’s Committee, but why leave it up to chance? Feel like we don’t talk enough about Elvis anymore. Guy was a legend. Used to make sandwiches out of whole loaves of bread and was always strapped. Sounds like someone who lived his life in the spirit of Christmas.

Signature Song:

Bing Crosby- White Christmas

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The ultimate one-trick-pony. Did Bing Crosby every do anything besides White Christmas? I’ll never know. But did he really need to? When you’ve got the hottest grainy audio of all time, I think one pitch is all you need. I can practically smell this album, and if you don’t know what I mean by that then you don’t have white grandparents.

Signature Song:

Johnny Mathis- Merry Christmas

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A staple of this man’s car rides to said grandmother’s house for Christmas, Johnny Mathis snags the final Veteran’s Committee spot. Many people were looking for Frank Sinatra to be the Veteran’s Committee’s third selection, but a shocking eleventh hour change in the voting propelled J-Math to the top. Can you really blame them, though? No one sounds more like snow and hot chocolate.

Signature Song:

 

Modern Entrants

Kelly Clarkson- Wrapped in Red

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I think I’ve gone into this enough.

Signature Song:

Céline Dion- These Are Special Times

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You knew the queen was getting in first ballot. If Wrapped in Red is the best Christmas album since “Last Christmas,” These Are Special Times is the second best. It’s a little bloated, which is just about the only negative. So many absolute bangers and powerhouse performances (what a surprise). It’s heavy on the religious songs, but if you’re against that you’re not a true Christmas music fan. 90% of this album is pure heat, and since there’s about 100 songs that’s a pretty good ratio. I mean, a song with Céline AND Andrea Bocelli? Someone pinch me, because I must be dreaming.

Signature Song:

Impossible to pick just one, but for the end note alone-

Or the hilarity of a French-Canadian power ballad diva singing “Feliz Navidad”

Michael Bublé- Christmas

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Listen, the guy’s the King of Christmas for a reason. Fire voice, fire album. Pure, uncut Christmas spirit. No one has ever paired their music to the retail consumer experience better.

Signature Song:

Mariah Carey- Merry Christmas

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Eli Manning is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. The same logic applies here. Not a ton of highs, but man. Were those highs the highest highs ever.

Signature Song:

Josh Groban- Noël

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Josh Groban is so underrated. We as a society have kind of forgotten about him, and that’s a travesty. He’s got one of the best *Googles* tenor and/or baritone voices of the modern era. You’re really gonna sit there and tell me you didn’t blast “You Raise Me Up” nonstop when it came out? Because I don’t believe that. Not for a second. Anyway, Noël is a real gem of a Christmas album. Banger after banger after banger. And the features? Faith Hill, Brian McKnight, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Be still my beating heart. Like Céline’s it’s got a lot of religious songs, but I can only take so much “Santa Baby” before I need some piety in my life.

Signature Song:

or from the deluxe edition re-release

The Beach Boys- The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album

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You may think this would fall under the Veteran’s Committee’s jurisdiction, but it was already penciled in for induction before the V.C. had their vote. The Beach Boys are kind of weird in that normal people don’t care about them at all but music hipsters can talk for hours about how genius they are and criticize you for only knowing their early stuff. Anyway, this is a fire album. Always nice to insert a little energy into a genre that can be pretty heavy most of the time. Definitely one of the most influential Christmas albums of all time, too. According to my research (off the top of my head) it’s the first time an artist experimented with classics and put their own spin on well known hits. It’s ubiquitous now, but someone had to be the first to do it. Also people forget Mike Love is Kevin Love’s uncle.

Signature Song:

That’s it for the first ever inductees to the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. Did your favorite not make the cut? Too bad. This is the first ever class, not everyone can get in. Maybe next year Michael Bolton will get in (spoiler alert: he will). Don’t forget to stop in the next time you’re in Massapequa. Admission’s dirt cheap. I also get a tax break if the Hall brings enough people into the city, so keep that in mind.

Merry Christmas, and remember, always listen responsibly.

Welcome to the Brian’s Den Newsroom

Introducing a new feature here at https://www.briansden69.com, the Newsroom. Since there’s going to (hopefully) be a lot going on in my life soon, I think this is a good way to kind of cover a lot of the stories I may not get the chance to talk about, particularly in the sports world. I’m thinking about doing these a few times a week. Let me know your thoughts- good, bad, never do it again? Either way, there’s some good stuff coming up in the near future.

Happy One Year Anniversary to Me

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Wow. As of today, it’s officially been a full year since I started The Brian’s Den. I know, I know. Congratulations to me and all that. Hard to believe it’s been 365 days since, a day after George Michael’s death, I decided to start this website. There’s been a lot of ups and a couple downs, but hopefully it was never boring. The world takeover hasn’t quite happened yet, but I still appreciate everyone who comes here to waste a few minutes every day. You’re all part of the the most exclusive club in the world, so don’t be afraid to puff out your chest a little bit and act like you’re better than everyone. You read the most educational website in the world, after all.

Now, were I a true professional, I’d have something special planned for my one year anniversary. Unfortunately, I’m not, so I don’t. So instead of forcing some content to materialize that undoubtedly won’t be good, I figured I’d just run back some posts that I know are good. That’s right, it’s the Official Brian’s Den clip show!

The Videos

Coors Field Concession Review

Denver Airport Conspiracy

Hot Dog Eating Contest

Episode 1 of my short lived cooking show (RIP)

How I Saved New York City

Can’t go too long without mentioning my (sort of) signature series, Burning Questions

Burning Questions Hub

The Food Takes

Which Fast Food Place Has the Worst Dressed Customers?

Fast Food Sauces Stink

Halloween Candy Power Ranking

Crab > Lobster

Why I Hate Lunch

The Grocery Store Rules

Best Pizza Chain

The Best #sports Talk

What’s up with JJ Redick’s tattoos?

The NBA’s Hidden Crime Syndicate

This is probably problematic but I still think it’s funny

Is Aaron Judge a True Yankee?

Pats Won the Super Bowl if you hadn’t heard

Entertainment News

Best Action Movie Characters

Stop Calling Die Hard a Christmas Movie

The Greatest Video Ever Made

Is The Weeknd a Virgin?

The Next Oscar Winner

The comprehensive list of Yu-Gi-Oh! takes

The Special Occasions

Countdown to 2017

Valentine’s Day

Eclipse 2017

Thanksgiving

Christmas (including Hawaiian Christmas)

So, what’s your favorite post? Did it show up here? Or do I have so many good ones that I overlooked some? What was my worst one (trick question, of course)? Let me know what you liked and would like to see more of. It was a good year one, and hopefully year two will be a big one.

The Greatest YouTube Video of All Time

Hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. I know I did. Ate tons of food, which is pretty much all I care about. Only thing is, I got so carried away chasing Black Friday deals I somehow wound up in the middle of Nebraska. Not good! I had to hitchhike my way back, and, along the way, I spent a lot of time on YouTube. And whenever I say I’m spending a lot of time on YouTube, I mostly mean I’m watching this video on a loop.

Easily the greatest video I’ve ever seen. Celine Dion, who I openly stan for, and *NSYNC, a titan of late 90s/early 00s pop, performing “That’s the Way It Is,” maybe a top ten song ever written and the unquestioned GOAT Grocery Store Pop song (grocery store soundtracks always feature 80s, 90s, and early 00s soft/contemporary pop). It’s just a combination of everything good in this world. This video has 34,000 views, and at least 17,000 of those are from me. It’s time more people joined the party. Every second of this video is amazing, so I figured I’d just break down everything you need to know about the Greatest YouTube Video Ever Made.

0:02- I honestly have no idea what the context for this performance is. I’m assuming it’s some kind of awards show? Maybe the Grammy’s? The CBS logo is there, so it was on TV. I think I’d be happier not knowing where this takes place. Keeps the intrigue going.

0:12- Fatone. Look at this hair. Look at this leather suit. This was how pop stars looked in the late 90s, and everyone was okay with it.

0:15- Love this keyboardist. You can feel his passion.

0:17- Celine might be the worst dancer of all time, but I respect her willingness to experiment. You can see the gears turning in her head every time she tries out a new move, and she almost always realizes it wasn’t good.

0:26- I say almost always because she just discovered this point. Remember it, because it’ll come back later.

0:39- Lance Bass might secretly have a top 5 life ever. Guy has no musical talent whatsoever but somehow became the second most well-known member of the second most important pop group of the 21st century, then added in a few TV show appearances for good measure. Legend.

0:57- How do you get this gig? Like how do you become the drummer for a Celine Dion/*NSYNC mashup? Does it pay well? Did he brag to his friends and family about landing this? Need to know more about this guy.

0:59- I’m almost certain she’s lip syncing the whole time, but who cares? Celine Dion earned the right to lip sync a long time ago.

1:00- I need this leather suit. Someone put me in touch with Fatone so I can get it from him.

1:04- The camera loves Bass and Fatone. I, for one, am not surprised.

1:09- “I can’t wait to fire my agent.”

1:13- What is this outfit? A white trench coat? No wonder Chris is the forgotten member.

1:16- Point counter: 2

1:18- I feel bad for JC. He had some serious pipes, but had the personality of a cardboard box. *NSYNC should have had two post-*NSYNC stars, but JC got left behind. Sad!

1:30- Name a more iconic duo. I’ll wait.

1:38- This is her sweet spot. Standing in place and raising her arms. Not sure anyone has ever had better ballad posture.

1:57- The people’s drummer showing his versatility.

2:01- How do they let Timberlake go out there with such an ill-fitting coat? Who was in charge of wardrobe for this thing?

2:02- Is this drummer secretly the sixth member of *NSYNC? He’s soaking up screen time.

2:10- Point counter: 3

2:12- JC reminds me of the captain of the Titanic. He knows his career is a sinking ship when Timberlake leaves, but he’s still giving his all because that’s the only thing he knows how to do. A true professional.

2:14- We need to start keeping track of everyone that’s getting more screen time than Chris. Right now the drummer and keyboardist both have significantly more.

2:16- Maybe the most electrifying dance moves I’ve ever seen in my life.

2:25- If you look closely you can see the seeds of the breakup being planted in Timberlake’s mind.

2:27- This touch was not in the dress rehearsal.

2:37- Can’t stop looking at JT’s neck. It’s like a turtle who doesn’t know whether to go back in its shell or not.

2:47- Timberlake is swimming in that coat. Did they not have tailors available? Also, this is why I assume it’s the Grammy’s or something in winter, because there’s no other reason to wear a coat like this in a climate controlled environment.

2:51- Timberlake should have taken Joey with him when he went solo, because he’s honestly got more stage presence than everyone else combined.

2:57- The real reasons behind *NSYNC’s success.

3:05- So the drummer, keyboardist, and now backup singers all have more screen time than Chris. Is that pre-Idol Ruben Studdard?

3:11- Can’t imagine what it’s like being in the presence of a Celine Dion power note.

3:16- I actually think there’s two drummers. Both have more screen time than Chris.

3:23- At this point, Chris has to fight somebody or go off script or something to get back on camera. It’s about pride, now.

3:25- Point counter: 4

3:33- Never seen a bigger pity wide shot to get Chris back on screen.

3:34- Celine sure is comfortable around Lance. I wonder why?

3:37- Point counter: 6 (this high difficulty point counts as 2)

3:48- You know she was thinking about this wink the whole time, and it didn’t disappoint.

3:53- Final point counter: 7

4:00- gecko hawaii. Never seen this logo before or since. But somehow they got ahold of this footage, so I’m always in their debt.

Sadly, the video ends after that. Well, it ends assuming you don’t have it set on repeat, which would be a pretty curious decision to say the least. I’m sorry if I got you addicted, but I just wanted to share my affliction. I will never get tired of this video, and I thank the Internet Gods every day for delivering it to my doorstep.