At the height of Pokémon's insipid popularity came Pokeémon Christmas Bash, a festive themed music CD containing new and altered Christmas songs with a sickeningly embarrassing helping of the voice acting "talent" from the Pokeémon TV show. The result is a cry-your-eyes-out twelve track extravaganza you regret having bought during your childhood years.
I sure did!
Start as you wish to go on, the old adage does say. This is exactly what Pokeémon Christmas Bash had in mind: to start with all guns blazing. The opening chimes and cheesy seasonal sleigh-bells are delightfully cliché, but it's when Pikachu and Squirtle start talking in time with the beat that I take umbrage with this particular opening track. And let's not start talking about verse one, or shall we.
Someone thought it would be a really splendid idea to have Dexter, Ash's Pokédex, rap a verse. Nobody should ever rhyme "party" with "hearty", but Dexter does it anyway. He does a few namedrops, and then takes his leave.
Hopefully off a cliff, to never be seen again.
The chorus is annoyingly catchy, and it hooks itself into your skull like those old Egyptian brain-through-the-nose needle things. I cannot help but hum the blasted chorus even after hearing it for just a few seconds. The quality of the lyrics may be bad, but the songwriting is on point. I hate to admit it.
Verse 2 introduces Brock's lame attempts at vocal mumblings. He brings attention to his time spent with Professor Ivy and how he only wants a kiss from Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny for Christmas. Apparently, Brock's "kicking it and it's a gas", "at the Pokeémon Christmas Bash". I was under the impression you couldn't kick gas, because it isn't a solid.
Misty's verse is the worst yet. Now I like Rachael Lillis probably more than the average man, but even I cannot put on a brave face and say it's OK... because it isn't! It seems they have a Christmas tree full of Pokéballs, according to Misty. I've got a Christmas tree full of patience, oh wait, no, I don't. Misty asks Santa for only one thing: a dance with Ash. Misty, weren't you after a new bike at some point? Dances are free, bikes are expensive. Get the bike from Santa and get the dance afterwards. Bah, honestly.
Ash's verse isn't as bad as it first seems, because at least by being monotone he ends up hitting the right tune some of the time. Apparently they roast chestnuts on Charizard's flame... I would be so done with this, but there are nine more actual tracks and we've barely scratched the surface.
We're not done yet. Team Rocket are here, everybody's favourite grave robbers! Their verse not only is the best performance, but also the best performance. I mean, the only performance even worth a damn. That's it.
The rest of the song is the chorus repeated with different variations. Let's move on.
The second track isn't much better. You see, Santa's getting something shocking for Christmas; can you guess what it is, lads!? Here's a clue, it's an electric type Pokeémon who is widely considered the face of the franchise, is bright yellow, has red cheeks and yells "PIKACHOOOYYYOOOOIIIIIIUUUUU" really loudly. That's right, it's a Mr. Mime Jr.!
Professor Oak is going to give back to Santa this year, a token of gratitude. A Pikachu! He and Ash then spend what feels like five years singing about how a Pikachu would really help ol' Saint Nick do his job.
This song is ultimately uninteresting but I'm willing to go through it because it has a laugh-inducing exchange between Ash and Professor Oak.
Oak: "I'm giving Santa a PIKACHU this Christmas."
Ash: "Wow! Just like the one you gave to me?"
Oak: "That's right!"
There is something about Oak's line there that makes me laugh out loud every time, even when I know it is coming. This is so awful, it's absolutely hilarious.
Whether it be about how Santa will scratch his beard or use a Pikachu to light his way through the December fog, one thing is for certain: I'm too old for and barely paid well enough to deal with this shit. [Full Disclosure: Matt will be due for a raise in 2028, once he finally cleans up his desk and takes down that framed photo of Hideki Naganuma with his own face plastered on the body.]
The worst part is the candy canes/electric trains rhyme, because while Professor Oak is doing his very best to sing well, Ash Ketchum is trying his very best to be the very worst, like no one ever was because no one wanted to be.
The best part of this whole performance is how with each chorus, Oak gets more and more excited. He's emphatically blasting out the words by the end of it, which would be fine if the words were not "I'm giving Santa a PIKACHU this Christmas!"
Listening to this is uncomfortable.
I advise that as we clamber into the third track, please MIND THE PUN. "Winter is the Coolest Time of Year" ...oh really? You've obviously not experienced the British Summer. This is the generic "rockabilly" Christmas song. Musically it is very close to some of my favourite Puffy tracks. I'd really enjoy the song no end, if it wasn't for the extremely unnecessary skit in the middle.
Ash suggests that it would be better to make a Snow"MON" instead of a Snow"MAN". So Misty and Ash begin to roll off awful snow and ice based Pokeémon puns. Tenta"cool", "Fridge"otto and Butter"Freeze". Kill me.
In all fairness, this song is a laugh. Were it not for the skit in the middle, I could probably drop it right in the middle of a Christmas set and it would feel right at home. I like it, for the most part.
The fourth track is the obligatory Meowth song. This is another really traditional sounding Christmas song, but what makes it awkward is the awful accent Meowth is known for.
The song gives examples of how other holidays suck, but Christmas doesn't. For example, how Valentine's Day sucks for people without a date, but Christmas is a time of peace, love and brotherhood. The song also makes a direct reference to July 4th and its celebrations, making it clear that 4Kids only has the United States of America in mind when they make stuff.
If you've ever seen the 4Kids "National Anthem", you'll already know this.
It takes a certain type of anti-Semitic comedy to attack Judaism, but congratulations Meowth! Your dig towards Yom Kippur is probably not appreciated in certain circles.
The fifth track is pure R&B cheese, and I love every second of it. Think a predictable late '90s Backstreet Boys number but with added Pokeémon related lyrics. One thing I don't understand is how Rachel cracks Misty's singing so perfectly here, but balls'ed it up on the first track.
Brock and Misty sing about Christmas back home, and how they wish they were with their family during the season. It would be even a tad emotional if it wasn't so hammy. Most songs of this ilk tend to end on a positive note, but this one really doesn't. It is an ode to being lonely. I dig that.
Track six is "The Christmas Song", the definitive song for the season, if the title is to be believed at least. You might know it as "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire" — and it has undergone Team Rocket's special kind of butchering. They can't even capture Pikachu, so did you expect them to cover this song properly!?
Subtle Pokeémon themed changes include switching out "reindeer" for "Stantler", the reindeer Pokeémon introduced in the Generation 2 games.
"Under The Mistletoe," the seventh track on this horrendous album, isn't the famous Justin Bieber song. Sufficed to say, time travel doesn't exist, with or without a Celebi. This song is a slow ballad about how Ash doesn't want to be caught under the mistletoe, meanwhile Misty is trying to catch him. If I had Misty trying to kiss me, I'd probably not struggle. Then again, when I was ten, I'd have probably acted the same way as Ash.
The Pokeémon cast now ruins "Must Be Santa" for our enjoyment (?) because nothing is sacred not even during the most sacred of seasons. This song, famously covered by Bob Dylan, is one of my favourites during the festive period, but this version is practically insulting.
The song features call and response repeated words, much like "B-I-N-G-O" and other campfire songs, though this originally started as a drinking song. You'd have to be drunk to think this version is even remotely acceptable. And again, reindeer have been swapped for Stantler. It's over, thankfully, not long after it begins. The torture is short, but very real.
After that, the Pokeémon cast read the famous poem, "The Night Before Christmas"... but it has had words replaced with Pokeémon names, because it bloody well would have, wouldn't it? Ash, Brock, Misty, James, Jessie, and Meowth all read this distorted version of the classic tale.
It's so absurd that it could have even been part of the show. I'm surprised 4Kids didn't make a video of this version. I wonder if the voice cast had an existential crisis when recording this; I know I would have. Is catching them all truly my real test?
The last song is a medley, but they left the worst until last. The album comes with the lyrics in the booklet, so you can sing along. It covers several classic Christmas songs but with changed words that loosely relate to Pokeémon.
According to YouTube comments, all these changed lyrics were written by Eric Stuart, the voice of James. Huh. Well, 4Kids and Leo Burnett are the Devil. The worst pun award for the whole album goes to "We wish you a Marril Christmas and a Hoppip New Year".
Tracks 11 and 12 are instrumental versions of "I'm Giving Santa A Pikachu For Christmas" and "Christmas Medley", just on the off chance you felt inclined to sing along to these awful songs.
I'm not getting these thirty-nine minutes back. They're gone forever.