The big trend this year: rock stars doing holiday songs. These are rockers who typically rock hard (or used to rock hard), and suddenly they’re feeling the need to spread holiday cheer. And some do it better than others.
First, there’s Billy Idol’s Happy Holidays, which finds the “White Wedding” singer entering the land of crooning as he covers the old Christmas standards. The delivery isn’t bad, though the videos available on Idol’s MySpace page are a bit painful to watch. Billy: the shirt doesn’t need to be unbuttoned to mid-chest these days – it just looks creepy.
Then there’s Twisted Sister’s Twisted Christmas, which is both a reunion album for the 1980s hair band and their self-professed final album. This album finds the band still in hair metal mode, which works for them. Dee Snider can still wail out a tune very well. But, like Idol, watching the band can be a bit trying on the eyes. While Snider can still wear his leathers from the day, the rest of the band is…. a bit older, softer, rounder. It looks like those other than Snider (who is now a radio DJ in his non-performing periods) got office jobs.
But the most surprising of these is Scott Weiland, formerly of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. The guy is a hardcore singer and the last person anybody would expect to hear crooning. Yet on tonight’s episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Weiland fronted a jazz quartet with a string section. And wearing a sensible black suit, with a white shirt sans tie, he delivered a beautiful and moving cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” He used the original Meet Me In St. Louis lyric, which is a rather sad tale of hardship that’s tempered with veiled optimism of better times coming at some point. Weiland really impressed – and I wish I could find this one on CD, it’s that good.