Nick Palmer brings us the next chapter of his current Star Wars feature. Today he looks back to the 1980 Star Wars ‘Christmas in the Stars’ LP and asks “Why?”
In light of the prequel trilogy, it’s often easy to forget that Star Wars wasn’t this perfect, untainted franchise up until 1999 when The Phantom Menace came out. Hints of George Lucas’ dark side could be seen dabbed around, with the spectacularly hokey Holiday Special, the whole ewoks thing, and the existence of this album.
This is a time warp back to an era when people thought that everything needed a Christmas album, even a galaxy which has no concept of Jesus or Father Christmas (though I guess hyperspace would explain how all those presents could possibly be delivered). One of the songs even mentions Einstein – he’s a real person, he’s not allowed to exist in the Star Wars universe, stop messing with things!
As the album reels up and begins drilling into the listener, there’s a horrible revelation, that that’s no tune (sorry, but the possibility of successfully navigating this review without making a crappy Star Wars pun is approximately 3,720 to 1). Thankfully the opening track is probably the album’s low point. The listener is treated to an uncharacteristically jovial C-3PO waiting for his guests, but where does C-3PO even live? He doesn’t have a house. Along with this captivating story, is the sickliest/sweetest and most horribly 70s family-friendly tune ever forcefully inserted into a franchise. Anthony Daniels, as C-3PO, hams it up with, “Christmas in the stars, out among the stars … come on everyone, sing!”, over a backing chorus of space folk, which leaves the listener wondering why anyone ever liked Christmas or Star Wars in the first place.
‘The Odds Against Christmas’, whilst not a terrible song tune-wise (it’s relatively inoffensive pop with some charming vocal harmonies), just raises more questions. C-3PO makes more references to things he shouldn’t know about, like the Magna Carter and the month of December. He is also adamant that Christmas is so good (even if irrecoverably damaged by this album), that every alien would gladly switch places with humans to experience it.
‘What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)’ is, admittedly, a brilliant name and concept, and also a genuinely not awful song. It’s a ridiculous plonky Broadway number and works surprisingly well.
On ‘R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, C-3PO, a choir of horrible children and John Francis Bongiovi (fun fact – this is the first recorded performance by Jon Bon Jovi, before he was even called that) let R2-D2 know just how much he means to them. Bon Jovi sings such enticing lines as, “Our chimney’s big and round, so you can come right down” (cue uncontrollable giggling).
Christmas in the Stars certainly not the worst thing ever to be OK’d by Lucas, but it is a Christmas album, which makes it inherently awful. You probably should leave this is in a galaxy far far away, but it is acceptable for a child to enjoy this, and for that child to grow up and still like it, because even if it is mostly terrible, it does have a certain charm about it.