If the only way you hear Christmas music is by what’s played in department stores and those seasonal radio stations that spend the rest of the year broadcasting soft rock you’d be forgiven for thinking your only options are stiffly archaic orchestral arrangements, Crosby-esque crooning, and the occasional over-produced pop song. But as anyone who’s spent any serious amount of time crate-digging through dusty vinyl can attest, there’s a veritable sea of Christmas recordings out there that are way too out there to serve as background music at Macy’s.
Eccentric Christmas music and the people (often eccentric themselves) who are obsessed with it are the subjects of a new documentary, Jingle Bell Rocks!, out now on DVD and VOD. The film includes interviews with artists like Run-D.M.C. and the Flaming Lips who’ve recorded non-traditional holiday songs, but the real stars are the collectors whose intense interest in the music extends year round. John Soss is one such fanatic, and he’s compiled a mix of obscure Christmas tunes for EW that includes contributions by a bewildering range of performers, from James Brown to Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm from The Flintstones.