Coming up with the cover photo for a Christmas album isn't something you should overthink. Slap Santa or a tree on there and you're pretty much good to go. But these albums tried to do something different, and accidentally turned Christmas into a holiday of horrors.
#5. Nutcracker Suite
Our demographics skew heavily toward fans of 1960s easy listening music, so we're sure we don't have to tell you that Andre Kostelanetz was an orchestra conductor who pioneered the genre. And if you could explain to us why his Nutcracker Suite cover is so terrifying, we would be immensely grateful.
Why is a wolf-tiger hybrid groping its own tail while it plots to eat that girl? Why is a clown head sitting in a bush? Was the clown decapitated? If so, why'd he die with such a smile on his face? What part of the Nutcracker Suite was that in? Is that a log next to the clown head, or a slowly decomposing alligator? Why isn't the cold preserving its corpse? Has there always been this much snow in hell?
So many questions.
#4. A Twismas Story
Remember when your parents took you to the mall to visit the Christmas clown? Of course you don't, because creepy clowns should never ever have anything to do with Christmas. Especially not the one that has clearly turned country music almost-legend Conway Twitty into a dead-eyed stunt double for the lead role in Weekend at Bernie's.
Meanwhile, the copyright-dodging Twitty Bird and "their" friends are gleefully celebrating Conway's death. He kind of had it coming for using the phrase "Twismas Story," though.
#3. Stan and Doug Yust Go Nuts at Christmas
Ah, nothing says Christmas like a cross-dressing, possibly mentally challenged man fighting Santa over an ugly doll. It's just like in that classic Christmas carol, "I Saw Mommy Try to Stop Daddy from Wearing Her Dresses and Cold-Cocking Santa."
Stan and Doug are covering songs from a 1949 comedy album, as they apparently exhausted their creativity coming up with this photo. And really, what says comedy better than the prelude to the weirdest domestic abuse incident ever reported? As for the word "yust," we're assuming that it means "rape" and a careless copy editor simply forgot to add a comma between that and "go nuts."
#2. 24 Sint Nicolaasliedjes
De Karekieten ("The Reed Warblers") are a Dutch group that apparently recorded racist Christmas music and nothing else. Sint Nicolaasliedjes ("St. Nicolas Music") was released in 1966, when blackface was on its way out. That said, we've talked about the not-technically-but-still-totally-racist Dutch tradition of donning the most offensive makeup job available for the holidays previously on Cracked. We present this album cover to assure you that we were not making that shit up.
On the bright side, at least the kids in the audience have enough decency to shield their eyes from the racial atrocity unfolding before them.
#1. Deutsche Weihnacht ... Und Festliche Lieder
In Germany, Heino is a beloved entertainer whose blond hair and sunglasses are iconic. In America, Heino looks like a sex offender. Between the slightly crossed eyes hidden behind thick dark glasses, the half-open mouth suggesting that creepy tongue movements are coming your way, and his "There's no way I'm not a rapist" sweater, his is the face that launched a thousand pictures of missing kids on milk cartons.
It doesn't help that Heino appears to be lurking outside of someone's house with what we can only assume is a stolen Christmas tree. "Come celebrate Christmas with me, kid!" he would say. Don't worry, his ankle bracelet went off as soon as he left his front yard. Just stay inside until the police arrive and you'll be fine.
You can read more from Mark, and also listen to his Christmas album, at his personal website.