MUSIC

Artists Who Shouldn't Have Made Holiday Albums But Did And Artists Who Haven't, But Should

Because who can ring in the holidays better than William Hung or Rosie O'Donnell?

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Radio stations, streaming playlists, store soundtracks—they're all saturated with holiday tunes already. But what about the not-classics?

Those Who Shouldn't Have, But Did

William Hung

You remember the scene-stealing William Hung from 2004's American Idol. Hung stunned the country with one of the show's most incredible performances, a complete reinterpretation of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." Along with Renaldo Lapuz's beautiful "I Am Your Brother" (that note at 3:20 is epic) and General Larry Platt's "Pants On The Ground,' Hung's rendition of Ricky Martin's hit raised the bar for American Idol and made him famous, opening the door for, inevitably, a Christmas album.

Hung for the Holidays, released in the winter of 2004, was Hung's second studio album. It wasn't as commercially successful as Inspiration, which came out earlier that year, and… well, this is a weird sentence already. Hung for the Holidays featured covers of the usual classics: "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Silver Bells," "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and more. The strange thing is, in "Deck The Halls," for example, his singing almost isn't bad. Almost. Until he goes for the long, delicate notes of "Little Drummer Boy" and that's just not going to happen.

The highlight of the album, though, is a hidden gem misleadingly titled "Greeting: Hopes & Dreams." After a brief, uplifting spoken message from Hung and about thirty seconds of silence, he suddenly lunges into a classic, famous, you-know-what's-coming opening line. "I pay my dues…" he sings, and the piano that springs in behind him starts a faithful cover of Queen's "We Are The Champions," complete with backing vocals and screaming electric guitars. Because how else would you expect him to end a Christmas album?

Listen on Apple Music and Spotify.

Rosie O'Donnell

In 1999, Rosie O'Donnell had a revelation: I have a lot of famous friends. We should make a Christmas album! She managed to recruit the likes of Billy Joel, Cher, Gloria Estefan, Elton John and *NSYNC to put together an album of holiday duets. A Rosie Christmas includes mostly bad decisions, like an electronic update to "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," a duet with Angelica Pickles of Rugrats on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," and a cover of "Do You Hear What I Hear" with Elmo. It also features some originals, like "Gonna Eat For Christmas" with Gloria Estefan. If you want to hear the reason that autotune had such a bad reputation, have a listen to the Cher duet.

Listen on Apple Music and Spotify.

Scott Weiland

Fact: Scott Weiland was the singer of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. Another fact: in 2011, he released The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, a Christmas album where he tries his best to sing intelligibly. The album starts with a traditional cover of "The Christmas Song" but soon devolves into a Jimmy Buffett-esque experiment with strange songs like "Silent Night" and "O Holy Night," complete with steel drums, reggae guitar and terribly unfit vocals. The album cover depicts Weiland as an acoustic-guitar solo act at the local bar, not even dressed in holiday apparel. Apparently a Milwaukee radio station produced the album and played it continuously for twenty-four hours starting on Christmas Eve. And thus, 2011 was the year Milwaukee didn't have a Christmas.

Listen on Apple Music and Spotify.

Punk Goes Christmas

Listen, "a pair of skinny khakis" does not make you punk. But that's part of the punk checklist that is "12 Days of a Pop-Punk Christmas," by Jarrod Alonge. The song is almost an exact antonym of the word punk. Moving on, "This Christmas," by The Summer Set is zero percent a punk song. Or a decent piece of music. I wasn't aware The Summer Set were a punk band at any point in their history (although I have seen a picture of them wearing skinny khakis). Punk Goes Christmas, released in 2013, is a sixteen-song compilation album featuring holiday covers by All Time Low, New Found Glory, Yellowcard, and others. I just can't believe anyone can stomach jingling sleigh bells in an album with "punk" in the name, but there they are in This Wild Life's tame, soulless "Sleigh Ride." At least Set It Off wrote a contribution called "This Christmas (I'll Burn It to the Ground)," with some fun, dark humor. It's really the only redeeming moment on the entire album.

Listen on Apple Music and Spotify.

Regis Philbin & Trump

Regis Philbin actually sang on several studio albums, starting with It's Time For Regis! in 1968. It didn't see a followup until When You're Smiling in 2004. Then, in 2005, came The Regis Philbin Christmas Album. Philbin's crooner imitation isn't half bad, and his duet with his wife, Joy, on "Baby It's Cold Outside" is affectionate and fun. If you're looking for light holiday listening from a celebrity talk show host, this Regis album isn't your worst choice. He handles the classics well enough. It's on this list primarily because of one song. Halfway through, Philbin jumps into a playful cover on "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." It's as normal as any of the other songs, with a piano solo and a muted horn solo in the middle.

And then… "one foggy Christmas eve, the Trumpster came to say: 'You know Rudolph, I've been on a worldwide search and I hear your qualifications are just right to guide my sleigh tonight.'" That's right: President-elect Trumpster has lines on a Regis Philbin Christmas album, all of which adds up to another strange sentence. Of course, the song has to end with a spoof of Trumpster's reality show: "So Donald, what do you think?" Regis asks. "Rudolph, you're hired. Blitzen, you're fired!"

Listen on Spotify.

Those Who Haven't, But Should

Really, no one should make a Christmas album. The odds of failure are too high—what are there, thirty? forty? at most, fifty holiday songs that have stayed popular in the past hundred years. And they're the ones that everyone continues to cover every winter. So allow me to rephrase that subtitle: Those Who, If They Absolutely Had To, Would Make The Best Christmas Albums. Since it's apparently something almost every artists feels a strong need to do, here are a few candidates.

Sia

Sia has shows her ability to orchestrate huge pop songs and to reinterpret Broadway tunes. It seems likely that she could reinvigorate some of the classic Christmas hits with modern pop energy, rather than force them into awkward positions in other genres like most artists do.

Chance the Rapper

Please don't, Chance. But you'd definitely nail it.

Chance's positive themes and religious references make him a good candidate to write some original, "true-meaning-of-Christmas" tracks without the cheesy tropes of sleigh bells and ho ho hos.

The Lumineers

The folk rock band recently performed a cover of "Blue Christmas" at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the White House and have released it as a streaming single. It's a moving and light-hearted performance that shows their ability to make a Christmas classic their own.

Adele

She has the voice to belt out some "O Holy Night" and "White Christmas" like few others can. What more is there to say?

Mumford & Sons

In line with The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons definitely have the style and ability to put their own spin on holiday music. Adam Horne actually did an amazing impression of Mumford & Sons singing a Christmas song with "O Christmas, Ye Cold Wind Blows."

Honorable Mention: Music That Is Real and Should Be Playing Always

There's one album that doesn't fit into either of the above categories. It is real and it absolutely deserves to be in your holiday playlist.

Christopher Lee, the actor known for his roles as Dracula in 1958, Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku in Star Wars, died in June 2015. But in addition to an immense list of actor credits, Lee also left behind an incredible set of Christmas music. Heavy metal Christmas music. It started with the A Heavy Metal Christmas EP in 2012, which featured covers of "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Silent Night."

Okay, time out. It's worth saying that when these songs dropped in 2012, Lee was 90 years old.

Naturally for a young man like Lee, a followup would come a year later as A Heavy Metal Christmas Too, including "Jingle Hell" and a cover of Sinatra's "My Way." And in 2014, at 92 years old, he gifted us with "Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing," his latest and last Christmas release.

If you're sick of the same carols year after year, or if you're just not a fan of Christmas music, Christopher Lee has the antidote.

Listen to all three releases:

A Heavy Metal Christmas on Apple Music and Spotify.

A Heavy Metal Christmas Too on Apple Music and Spotify.

"Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing" on Apple Music and Spotify.

view producer sues rosie odonnell

Jennifer Shepard-Brookman, a senior The View producer sued Rosie O'Donnell this week for bullying and making her fear for her safety.

The court documents detail an incident in September 2014 when O'Donnell allegedly ripped Shepard-Brookman a new one for passing the coverage of the ISIS beheading of journalist James Foley over to rival co-host Whoopi Goldberg.

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The producer alleges that O'Donnell got right into her face and that she was "scared of Rosie and thought she was going to be assaulted".  She maintains that O'Donnell is a bully who intimidated staff.

Shephard-Brookman had been a producer on the show for eight years when she was eventually fired in February this year for being "profoundly and publicly disrespectful" to O'Donnell in front of the whole staff at a production meeting—she literally had a stand up shouting match with O'Donnell, something which insiders told Page Six at the time is a definite no-no.

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That incident was reported by staff members, including O'Donnell to Human Resources, which led to Shepard-Brookman's eventual termination.

The lawsuit filed in Manhattan on Thursday claims that O'Donnell got Shepard-Brookman fired out of spite, an accusation O'Donnell's attorney told The Wrap was "baseless".

Jennifer Shepard-Brookman and Rosie O'Donnell in happier times.

Rosie O'Donnell is having a tough time of it at the moment as she's currently in the limelight due to the scathing comments her daughter, Chelsea O'Donnell has made about her to the press.

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Chelsea claimed the reason her mom parted company with the ABC talk show (for the second time) was due to her feud with Goldberg.

She also claimed that the comedienne's public persona is a front, saying;

"She has this public persona; she will put this big smile on her face and try to be funny....whereas when we were home....she would either just be in her room, not engaging with us, or watching documentaries."

Whoopi Goldberg Farts On The View

"I find her not genuine a lot of the time...it's like two different people," she concluded.

With all the raging hormones and egos on the set of daytime talk show The View, it was only a matter of time before tempers flared.

And that was the case last week, when Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell reportedly went AT IT, during an epic off-camera showdown.

According to the MailOnline, the two hosts got into a very heated spat, in front of the show’s audience, during an ad break on Thursday.

It all kicked off after Whoopi cut Rosie off mid rant—to go to commercials—during a “Hot Topic” debate over spanking.

A MailOnline source, who had front row showdown seats, claims that as soon as the cameras cut, O’Donnell grabbed the microphone that’s used to engage the audience, and gave Goldberg a piece of her mind—bitching about how Whoopi had hurt her feelings, how she was “very upset by it” and how she “didn’t appreciate” her actions.

Explaining how she had to cut to break as the segment had run too long, and how, if O’Donnell didn’t refuse to wear an ear monitor on set she would have been aware of this, Whoopi concluded, “This isn't the time for this, Rosie.”

However, the outspoken 52-year-old begged to differ!  “Well I just don't appreciate you saying that you were going to do something and not doing it. It makes me upset and I just don't want to have to go through this,' she railed.

“I said this was not the time Rosie,” a clearly irritated Goldberg shot back. But, O’Donnell still had more to say on the subject, continuing to vent her anger, until Whoopi finally lost her cool, screaming, “Fuck it, I told you to leave it alone and you just don't want to listen. If you want to go there Rosie, I will dammit. I'm really sick of your shit!”

Uh oh!

”At this point, you could've heard a pin drop. It was like everything came to a standstill and Rosie finally backed down,” the source says.

Sherri Shepherd dished on other people’s drama on The View, but her real life relationship is now playing out like an episode of Jerry Springer!

The talk show host, who left the ABC daytime hit in June after seven years, is in the midst of one of the ugliest celebrity breakups we’ve seen in a long time.

Ex-husband Lamar Sally is now dishing on the breakdown of their marriage, claiming she walked out on not only him, but also their seven-week-old son, Lamar Jr., who the couple welcomed via surrogate in August.

“To this day, I cannot pinpoint one thing that caused us to split up,” says her bemused ex in an explosive tell-]all. “Honestly, I do not know what happened. No one was cheating, we didn’t fight much, and we didn’t have money problems.

“I don’t want to be an old mother,” Sally claims Shepherd told him in a MailOnline interview. “Actually, that is one of the reasons we married after only a year, because she was ready to do this. I wanted to wait another year or two to get married, but having a baby with me was so important to her I said OK, let’s do it.

“I waited 40 years to get married and have kids. I wanted to do things the right way. Never wanted to have children out of wedlock and only be a weekend or checkbook dad,” he says. “But we were having trouble conceiving, so she went through in vitro fertilization, like she did with (ex-husband) Jeffrey (Tarpley).”

Shepherd, 47, made $3 million last year, according to her bitter former husband, but had no idea how to balance her check book or monitor her bank account.

“She is obsessed with her career. She is always worried about the next step and if one little thing goes wrong she falls into what I like to say is 'gloom and doom' attitude,” he complained.

Sherri is now appearing on Broadway in Rogers & Hammerstein's Cinderella after being reportedly fired from The View at the end of last season to make room for Rosie O'Donnell.

“I am very good with money, I have always put myself on a budget so it was irritating to me that she doesn’t take care of business. When we got married I ran the house and put my own career on hold,” claims Sally.

The former third grade and high school English teacher is hoping to get back in the classroom, and in the meantime is trying his hardest to look after their baby on his own. “All I can do is to take care of my son the best way I know how, but I feel sorry for Sherri. I don’t hate her or have any bitterness, but one day she is going to have to sit down and explain to LJ that she turned her back on him and I don’t know how she is going to do that.

“She recently offered $150,000 to make me go away, but it was unacceptable,” he revealed.

Shepherd has not publicly responded to any of Sally’s claims, reported USAToday.com.

 

Zooey Deschanel has done it. And so have Rosie O’Donnell, Ricki Lake and British TV presenter Amanda DeCadenet.

They’ve all taken to Twitter and Facebook to support Taryn Brumfitt’s body image revolution and ask their followers to support her #ihaveembraced campaign.

The 36-year-old Aussie mom-of-three has launched a Kickstarter to make a documentary urging women around the world to love their bodies.

Brumfitt is trying to raise $200,000 to make Embrace—a documentary she says will “unite women across the world to love their bodies.”

And, ever since it launched earlier this month, it has gained steam with women from Australia to the U.S., tweeting “#ihaveembraced” or posting photos of themselves carrying a sign with the phrase.

O’Donnell, 52, is one of them. The actress – who has lost nearly 50lbs since having vertical gastric sleeve surgery last year – tweeted: “I just backed Embrace – The documentary that will create global change on @Kickstarter.”

In a follow-up tweet, she urged Brumfitt to “keep going” adding that she “can’t wait to see” her documentary.

Yo-yo dieter Lake, 45, actually thanked the Australian mom saying in a Twitter post: “@tarynbrumfitt Thank you for making #embrace!”

And while Deschanel, 34, posted a link to a HelloGiggles.com blog piece about the campaign, De Cadenet, 42, wrote a piece on her website telling her readers that it’s “so worth contributing to.”

Brumfitt is thrilled by the response. In an exclusive chat with Popdust she says, “Women are being held back by body image issues and it’s time to let go.

“Let go of the body shaming and body hating, it is time to embrace a new way of thinking about your body.

“Whether you are large, small, short, tall, black, white, disabled, YOU have the right to a positive body image.

“If you put a room full of six-month-old babies together you’ll notice the diversity.

“Why, when we grow up, do we feel the need to conform to one ideal of health or beauty?”

It’s not the first time Brumfitt has created a buzz online.

Last year she posted a nude photo of herself on Facebook, alongside a post urging women to love their bodies “before” and “after” pregnancy.

The picture went viral and, within a few short months, the photographer – who heads her Body Image Movement– was featured on the MailOnline and on Good Morning America.

For Brumfitt it has been a long journey towards self-acceptance. Just a few years ago she almost spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery.

She was desperate to get a tummy tuck, liposuction and breast enhancement after having three babies in quick succession left her hating the way she looked.

“There were times I’d be on the bathroom floor, crying or I’d look in the mirror, grab my tummy and say: ‘Look at this. It’s disgusting’,” she says.

“My husband Mathew was supportive and encouraging but no one really knew how I felt.

“Even when we were intimate I was never present because I was always worried about what I looked like.”

But, while watching her then three-year-old daughter Mikaela playing, Brumfitt says she had an epiphany and, in 2012, decided to just learn to love herself and accept the way she looks.

She says: “I suddenly thought: ‘How am I ever going to teach Mikaela to love her body unconditionally if I can’t do the same?’

“That’s when I started making changes and decided to feel good about myself.

“Rather than investing time worrying about things that, without surgery, I couldn’t change, I started to focus on the things that I could do – like going to the gym and eating healthily.”

But Brumfitt is careful to keep a balance. After challenging herself to appear in a bodybuilding competition and losing 33lbs in 15 weeks, shunning alcohol and processed foods, she decided that life is too short to live it eating nothing but chicken and broccoli.

Now, in her Kickstarter trailer—which you can watch below—you can see why she is urging other women to stop obsessing about the way they look and celebrate their bodies.

“I need women and men to unite and contribute towards the making of this documentary," Blumfitt tells Popdust.

“I can’t rely on anything other than people power.”

To learn more go to Taryn Blumfitt's Kickstarter page

Embrace Trailer from Enlightening Films on Vimeo.

Hollywood’s hottest and most self-obsessed stars like the Kardashians, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens – and even Jenny McCarthy – were very busy this week, getting all boho’d out at Coachella, showing hot bods and vacation, getting engaged, and just being silly.

As usual, they weren’t shy sharing their shenanigans on social media, for better or for worse.

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If you are too busy to scour all the social media sites for the images, Popdust has the rundown for you of the coolest, not-so-cool and WTF social media photos in our weekly feature.

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