Between 2004 and 2011, the creators of The Venture Bros. (Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick) released free Christmas cover songs performed by the show’s characters to asitecalledfred.com. The tradition may unfortunately be over, as neither seasons five or six brought us the appropriate seasonal joy.
Still, there are eight glorious tracks worth of Christmas songs interpreted through the dysfunctional lens of The Venture Brothers (as well as a tangentially connected bonus song included at the end). They range from loving tributes to riffs on how bad certain Christmas songs are; whether you’re a Christmas music fanatic or someone who wants to strangle Alvin, there’s a song or nine in here for you. So turn up your speakers and enjoy 36 minutes worth of the best Christmas music inspired by a cartoon you’ll hear this season!
“Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”
The first single, released in 2004, is a nearly word for word reenactment of Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s banter and song from Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas performed by The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend.
It’s a fitting start to their Christmas tradition; The Venture Brothers creators love Bowie and included multiple references to him and his music in the first two seasons, culminating in the reveal that The Sovereign was actually David Bowie (or a shape-shifting impersonator if you’re [adult swim]’s legal department). Their performance is hilarious; they both struggle to remember lines and Dr. Girlfriend’s delivery is heavily forced when she isn’t angrily delivering her lines (her inability to act is a wonderful reoccurring joke). What makes this song though is the show’s recent revelation that the two are into costumes in the bedroom; this reenactment could easily be part of an elaborate role-play scenario (featuring the sexiest Bing Crosby ever).
Best VB change from the original: Monarch (as David Bowie): “Every child must be FORCED to care.” Even when pushing for world peace, The Monarch manages to make it about him dominating others.
“Hard Candy Christmas”
Continuing with the tradition started with “POE/LDB”, this song starts off with characters interacting with each other. This time it’s Henchmen 21 and 24 visiting The Monarch in jail (sometime around the end of season one). The Henchmen decide that in order to cheer up The Monarch, they’ll sing a song together. 21 chooses Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the skin flick that Dr. Venture wanted to watch in “Victor. Echo. November.”
“Hard Candy Christmas” is one of the most depressing Christmas songs and the cast manages to keep the sadness (Monarch struggling with Dr. Girlfriend dating Phantom Limb) while still including plenty of laughs (21’s excitement over how excited he sounded about sewing is always a bright spot).
Best VB change from the original: The lyrics to the song stay the same (which is why I was once able to terrify people at a Christmas party by belting out the entire song), but the best part comes right after 24 sings “maybe I’ll meet someone and make him mine,” and spends the chorus yelling in the background at 21 for feeding him that verse on purpose.
“Venture Aid 2006”
“VA2006” is an oddity among the singles. It’s the most straightforward adaptation of a song and is also the song with the largest number of voice actors. Most of the songs are focused around The Monarchs and Henchmen because creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick voice them. For this song though, voice actors James Urbaniak (Dr. Venture, Phantom Limb), Michael Sinterniklaas (Dean), and Steve Rattazzi (Orpheus) join Hammer and Publick to cover Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The original song’s lyrics and performances are already ridiculous and cheesy; the line “clanging chimes of doom” is easily something that Orpheus could have declared on the show.
Best VB change from the original: Cast: “Well tonight thank god it’s them instead of you” Dean: “Thanks God!” That joyful two word addition by Dean puts attention on one of the dumbest and most ignorant lines in an already highly offensive song.
“Fairy Tale of New York”
Another song with no introduction, this one gender swaps The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York” by having The Monarch sing Kirsty MacColl’s part and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch perform Shane MacGowan’s role. It’s an Interesting swap; MacGowan’s rough voice contrasts with MacColl’s sweet sound. “Sweet sound” obviously doesn’t fit either of the Monarchs, but Dr. Mrs. The Monarch has the harsher voice and plays the role well. She doesn’t quite come across as drunk like MacGowan does, but her inability to hold a note fits his warbling. Hammer and Publick make the call-and-response angrier than The Pogues, which fits the characters well; if The Monarchs weren’t fighting and making up it wouldn’t feel right.
Best VB change from the original: Other than adding “Monarch” to the song, there aren’t any changes in the lyrics. I really enjoy the continuation of Dr. Mrs. The Monarch playing traditionally masculine roles while The Monarch has the effeminate roles (their next song together features the same swap). The Venture Bros. is a show that frequently struggles with female characters, so it’s great to see their best take the lead in all her songs with The Monarch. That being said, The Monarch calling her a “f****t” is highly problematic (especially since some viewers believe she is transgendered) and should have been reworked.
Released after the season 3 finale, this song chronologically takes place before the episode’s tragic events; it features 21 and 24 chatting and recording their Christmas song well in advance of the holidays. Depending on if you’re a good person or not, the cover art is either depressing or hilarious.
Unlike “Hard Candy Christmas”, 21 clearly didn’t learn this song at camp. He stumbles with the lyrics in the beginning and scats until it suddenly dawns on 21 that the instrumentals are awful to sing along with. The song then kicks in to another gear as he spends the rest of the song struggling to keep up while also mocking it. 21’s dislike of the song was likely based on Hammer’s own views of the song. When discussing recording the song, Hammer said, “I hate that song! It’s awful and I didn’t want to hear that terrible “waw waw waw waw…” “onc onc onc onc…” It’s awful! I’m the one who actually records them and stuff so hearing that shitty keyboard in your head phones over and over again makes me want to claw your eyes out.”
There are two important morals in this song. The first is to prep for Christmas in advance because you never know when your best friend will be killed by a car bomb. The second is to get a Dell instead of a Mac. It’s what 24 would have wanted.
Best VB change from the original: 21: “What’s up with this part by the way?” That line applies to everything in that song.
“The Chipmunk Song”
Hammer and Publick recreate this classic song with 21 as Alvin, the Pupae Twins playing whoever the other two are, and The Monarch as Jason Lee; David Cross is sadly absent. This is the third time they scrape the bottom of the Christmas barrel (if they ever do another one, I would not be surprised to see “Christmas Shoes”); it’s still a difficult song to listen to and, along with the next song, gets the least amount of plays from me each December, but it does have two interesting elements in it.
The first is recasting Alvin as the suffering protagonist and making Dave the villain of the piece. The second is using it as commentary on gifts for Christmas. Monarch argues that “love” is a great gift for Christmas and that Christmas shouldn’t be about gifts while 21 argues that a song isn’t a real gift. The song clearly shows that not only is this song not love (Monarch gives no time for 21 to rehearse, suggesting that it was a last minute idea and not one from the heart), but that Christmas IS about gifts; it’s the reason that 21 is being forced to spend time with the monsters that murdered his best friend.
The joke that a song is a lousy gift gains an extra layer to it when you realize that Publick and Hammer had been making songs as Christmas gifts for the past six years. At least 21 will get revenge two years later when The Monarch complains about receiving the gift of jazz.
Best VB change from the original: A Pupae Twin: “Fat Boy still wants his hula hoop.”
“Fan Club Christmas Album 2010”
So… yeah, that happened. This single (or album?) is based on The Beatles Fan Club Christmas records, specifically the 1967 edition. If you haven’t heard of the albums, you’re not alone. Between 1963 and 1969 The Beatles would mail out flexi discs featuring music and comedy routines at Christmas time as a thank you to fans. Unfortunately, few of the records were ever mailed to American members of the fan club. The 1967 edition features The Beatles singing “Christmas Time is Here Again!” followed by the band members pretending to be other bands auditioning at the BBC.
Perhaps my lack of familiarity with obscure flexi-discs was the reason why I don’t appreciate this one, but the release rambles around and doesn’t quite go anywhere. It’s a mix of Shallow Gravy moving on from their jacket phase to Beatles covers and Hammer and Publick performing their repertoire of supporting cast members reading excerpts that may or may not be loosely connected to them.
Some of the selections are solid choices; Hunter N. Gathers reads from Burroughs (probably because Thompson would have been too on the nose) and Colonel Gentleman reads the Futurist Manifesto and then Scots it up for a Robert Burns poem, but others (like Hank’s) come across as the writers just picking something because it’d be fun to hear the actors read those songs/poems. It’s a bit disappointing, but thankfully it’s not the last song they did; instead, they went out with one of my favorite moments involving The Monarchs.
Best VB change from the original: Shore Leave: “SPHINX!” Doc Hammer’s enthusiastic delivery of that line always makes me smile.
“Baby It’s Cold In Here”
I’m a sucker for both call and response songs and Christmas songs, which means I’m constantly struggling over “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The instrumental part is fun and the overlapping call and response sound is beautiful. But then there’s the lyrics and the fact that the two roles are called “wolf” and “mouse” and… yeah. Problematic is putting it lightly. Even with the role of the wolf played by a woman it’s still a disturbing song and rewritings of the song don’t necessarily work out. Kirby Krackle and The Doubleclicks’ “Baby it’s Hoth Outside” attempts to rework it into a sex-positive feminist take with Leia as the wolf and Han as the mouse, but ends up being a highly misogynistic song that views Leia as an evil shrew on par with how Tommy Wiseau sees Lisa in The Room (which is quite disappointing given how positive The Doubleclicks’ “Nothing to Prove” is).
Enter Hammer and Publick, who have created not only the least offensive version of the song, but one that long-time couples can relate to.
“Baby It’s Cold in Here” works because it isn’t about the early days of a relationship; it’s about being in a relationship for years. The song takes the music and call and response aspect and changes the lyrics to create one of the most realistic love songs I’ve ever heard. Instead of being about falling in love, it’s about a couple arguing over an unspecified event. Every line in that song has been something that I’ve either yelled to or been yelled at by a significant other. The two fight and hurt each other because they aren’t listening to what the other person says. When one attempts to connect the other pushes back, causing the fight to continue. It’s only when they both realize that they’re hurting each other by not actually listening that they stop trying to blame the other and instead accept fault.
In between the jokes (and there are plenty of them here) are lessons to how to make a relationship last; keep the argument on topic (don’t bring up what happened in the cocoon), don’t argue when you’re buzzed and instead wait until you’ve sobered up, sex doesn’t solve everything, don’t argue in front of the kids or henchmen, and most importantly, listen to what your partner is really arguing about (odds are this isn’t just about one thing that happened at the Guild party).
Best VB change from the original: Besides rewriting the entire song, “I’m going to listen and not going to shout” is pretty great.
The James Urbaniak Christmas Song (written by James Urbaniak and Jonathan Dinerstein)
Released on the same site as the Venture Brothers Christmas songs, this one features the voice actor behind Rusty Venture singing about a wish that many actors (and freelance writers) have; he wants a f***ing job for Christmas. Urbaniak giddily complains about the lack of a job as he begs Santa for any work, even a guest spot on Hawaii Five-O (he’s willing to grow a beard and take off all his clothes). Fans of Getting On with James Urbaniak will especially appreciate the look at the madder side of his brain.
And there we have it! Eight Venture Bros. themed Christmas songs (and one from the boy scientist himself)! Which one is your favorite? What song do you want them to cover next? Sound off in the comments below!