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.

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Who’s Ready for the Olympics?

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Welcome to Olympics SZN, folks. I, for one, am itching to watch the first huge sporting event of 2018. I still can’t believe they cancelled this year’s Super Bowl. Crazy. Truth be told, my hype level is pretty meh for these Olympics. I’m pumped to spend all day watching cross-country skiing and learning cool facts about Good Korea, but I just find myself caring less than I usually do. Maybe it has something to do with the NHL not letting their players participate (if you ever need a great business model, all you have to do is look up every single major decision the NHL has ever made and do the exact opposite). Maybe it’s because there’s no Russia. The Olympics need a villain to really work. What, I’m supposed to get pumped up when an American beats someone from North Korea who probably hasn’t eaten in four days? Doesn’t get the blood flowing as much. And I realize that we’re the villain for the rest of the world, but the American perspective is really the only thing that matters. I wouldn’t be opposed to Russia being let back in just this one time.

A lot of people hate on the Winter Olympics, but that just shows how uncultured they are. As previously established, snow is my natural habitat, so any time winter activities get their shine I’m in. Plus, the Winter Olympics is the ultimate collection of events that are really cool for about ten minutes until you’ve had enough and big time, world-stopping events like figure skating and mogul skiing. Asian countries are also great at hosting world-wide events, so there’s always the chance we won’t have to hear about how many slave laborers died trying to build the venues on time. It should be a great time. Now, with so many events and so many storylines, things can get a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Luckily enough, I’ve scoped out all the details you need to stay up-to-date with all the tape-delayed action. So, without further ado, the Official Brian’s Den Winter Olympics Preview 2018:

Wait, press play first

Best Events

  • Cross-country skiing– Many people will say watching cross-country skiing on TV sucks. Fake news. CCS is arguably the greatest and most perfect Olympic sport to watch on television. It’s the ultimate background noise if you’re attempting to be productive while also watching TV (who would ever do that? Yikes) and is so boring that it’s impossible to look away. Try not to get emotionally invested in a CCS race after watching more than five minutes, it’s impossible. And there’s always some Norwegian guy in the middle of a huge dynasty, too.
  • Biathlon– Take everything I just said then add guns.
  • Short-track speed skating– Always felt like this would be the coolest to do if you didn’t want to be a skier/snowboarder bro.
  • Ice dancing– It’s just figure skating, but without the fun or personality!
  • Curling– Curling has somehow become the cliché event to ironically say you like (if you ever have the chance to never use the Internet again, take it and never look back), but I actually do enjoy watching people throw some stones.

Olympians to Watch

  • Chloe Kim– When I first heard about this snowboarding prodigy like, last week, I tried really hard not to Google her because I was afraid of what I would see, but I wasn’t strong enough and my fears were confirmed. She was born in 2000 and I feel like such a lazy piece of shit.
  • Iceman– He can control ice which would seem like pretty unfair advantage in the Winter Olympics but when has the IOC not been on the straight and narrow?
  • Nathan Chen– His hair may be his greatest weapon in the male figure skating competition.
  • Johannes Høsflot Klæbo– He’s a Norwegian cross-country skier who also has a vlogging channel on YouTube, so you know he’s someone who you’d really want to hang out with all the time.
  • Iceman– The shock addition of stunt plane piloting to this year’s Games opens up the door for him to win gold.

Fun South Korea Facts

  • The hugely popular music genre known as Korean pop, or “K-Pop” as the kids say, actually originated in South Korea.
  • Haesindang Park in Sinnam is known as Penis Park because it has a bunch of penis statues.
  • Korean babies are considered one year old at birth.
  • They have the fastest Internet in the world but everyone is really stingy with their WiFi password so I can’t use it.
  • Koreans treat their e-Sports “athletes” like rock stars and shower them with fortune and fame, but I’m a nerd loser because I like to play PS4. Very unfair!

Best Korean Food

  • Kimchi– Legend has it Koreans serve kimchi with every meal, which means the salty, fermented veggies must go great with ice cream!
  • Bulgogi– Korean BBQ is *insert chef kissing fingers gif*
  • Bibimbap– Can’t say I’ve ever had it but it’s a funny name.
  • McDonald’s– Korean McDonald’s have delivered for years and we’re just starting to do it. Tells you all you need to know about the sad state of affairs in the USA.
  • Jjajangmyeon– Could have sworn jjajangmyeon was Italian.

Best Korean Companies

  • Samsung– Pretty sure if you’re caught using a non-Samsung electronic device you get sent to North Korea.
  • Hyundai– Hyundai is actually an official sponsor of the NFL, so it’s their fault the Super Bowl was cancelled this year.
  • LG– I bought an LG TV my sophomore year of college and it still works now so, yeah.
  • SK Group– This sounds like a fake company made up to spoof real corporations.
  • Kia– R.I.P. Blake Griffin Kia commercials.

Best Winter Activities

  • Staying inside all day– Really the only one you need.
  • Skiing– I wonder if skiing is the whitest activity ever invented. Still fun, though.
  • Eating a ton of comfort food since you have to wear a heavy jacket whenever you go outside, so who can really tell?– Is this just me?
  • Getting someone else to shovel snow– This might be my primary motivation for wanting a son at some point.
  • Complaining about how poorly everyone else drives in the snow– God, it’s like these people forget they live in New England or something! How are they not used to this?

Worst Events

  • Luge– Luge is cool until you find out skeleton exists and then all of the danger and intrigue goes away.
  • Hockey– Again, why did the NHL pull NHL players? Do they dislike exposure and money?
  • Figure Skating– I think we all have a moral obligation to boycott figure skating with the Tonya Harding incident so fresh in our minds.
  • Freestyle Skiing– Just pick up a board, brah.
  • Anything USA doesn’t win– It’s not even a real sport, anyway. If he wanted to LeBron could be the best in the world in like, three weeks.

Best thing about huge International events that take place on the other side of the world so they’re put on tape-delay even though it’s 2018 and everyone knows the results the second they happen anyway so what’s the point of even watching?

  • Nothing

I think that’s all you need to know about this year’s Olympics. Make sure you don’t get Pyeongchang mixed up with Pyongyang- I’ve heard they don’t appreciate it when you do. Gonna be some great Mike Tirico behind-the-desk action in primetime, and I can’t wait for the awkward “Cris Collinsworth sent to the streets of South Korea for some reason” pieces that will surely captivate the audience. But, it’s impossible to deny the sheer spectacle of the Olympics and the drama they manufacture create through organic competition. Now someone get me a cross-country skiing feed!