Album Review: William Shatner – Shatner Claus

By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
[Cleopatra; 2018]
Rating: 3/10

Key Tracks: “Little Drummer Boy”, “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, “Silent Night”

Sometimes as writers, we are cursed with the task of writing about Christmas music way before the season officially starts. But sometimes, William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk from Star Trek, releases a Christmas album and your love of William Shatner outweighs your hatred of Christmas music before December.

Read more? Too bad. Literally, nothing compares to this. 

Shatner pairs up with Henry Rollins, Brad Paisley, Iggy Pop and many other artists. Not even collaborations with great artists can help this album. Frankly, Shatner sounds like your drunk uncle at Christmas after a few too many glasses of eggnog. Shatner seems to have no concept of rhythm, musicality, pitch or anything else. It’s exactly what you think it sounds like. From a musical perspective, it’s complete and utter garbage.

As horrible as this all sounds, it’s unbelievably funny. Maybe it’s intentional, but it’s so hard to tell, especially because the background music is beautifully done. Does Shatner have any idea what the hell this sounds like? He basically just narrates the songs and will let the singer take the more melodic sections. This is the case for “Blue Christmas”, letting Brad Paisley sing the Elvis chorus parts and then Shatner talks over the low notes in a monotone. All of the people he paired up with do a pretty good job with what they are working with. By no means are any of these songs done in a new and creative way, but just having Shatner do “spoken word” over them blasts them into a new world of ridiculousness.

Some of the tracks are nice if Shatner is not trying to sing. “Twas the Night Before Christmas” is actually quite well done, with beautiful jazz instrumentals underneath and the appropriate dramatic tone. Saxophonist Mel Collins brings a magical touch to the piece. The synth instrumental break and the piano work in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” performed by Rick Wakeman is pretty cool. Unfortunately, these moments are dampened by Shatner Claus’ musical stylings.

After the initial hilarity, the shock of the album starts to wear off. It’s hard to listen to 45 minutes straight of this. If you want to avoid secondhand embarrassment, just skip “Feliz Navidad”. Just skip it. “Jingle Bells – Punk Rock Version” is the worst song on this album, and arguably one of the worst Christmas songs ever produced. It’s so bafflingly terrible that it’s hard to wrap your head around. Listen to this and then rinse out your bleeding ears. At least after this track, it’s over.

To evaluate, just Shatner and his lack of musical talent alone would be a mistake. The background music is well done and the features from other artists are good, but that’s not the point. Christmas is about joy. There’s no denying that this album gives us some sort of joy, just not in the traditional sense.

Listen here: 

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