Holiday Havoc: Venture Christmas Songs
Original Air Date:December 17, 2004
Written by:Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick
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"I'm not going to lie to you, it's excruciating having to do those because they always come at a time when we're swamped in production, the holidays are coming up and you don't want to be doing this..."-- Doc Hammer
From 2004 through 2011 and again in 2015, 2019 and 2021 Jackson and Doc have provided FRED (formerly QuickStopEntertainment) with a Christmas-themed song sung by various characters in The Venture Bros. The songs are generally more pop-oriented Christmas songs, sometimes obscure or one-off things. You can download the songs via the link below from FRED Entertainment.
The purpose of this page is to provide info on each song similar to the notes in each episode capsule.
Table of Contents
- "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" (2004)
- "Hard Candy Christmas" (2005)
- "Venture Aid 2006" (2006)
- "Fairytale of New York" (2007)
- "Wonderful Christmastime" (2008)
- "The Chipmunk Song" (2009)
- "Fan Club Christmas Album 2010" (2010)
- "Baby It's Cold In Here" (2011)
- "The Misers" (2015)
- "Last Christmas" (2019)
- "A Spaceman Came Travelling" (2021)
"Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" (2004)
This song is a word-for-word recreation of the surreal performance of David Bowie and Bing Crosby filmed for Crosby's Christmas special Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. You can watch the performance and the uncomfortable banter on YouTube if you dare.
In this Venture Bros. version The Monarch plays the part of David Bowie and Dr. Girlfriend is Bing Crosby. The original was recorded in September of 1977, about a month before Crosby's death. Many of the special's production crew weren't sure if Crosby even knew who Bowie was (though there were later claims to the contrary). The song was also rewritten at the last minute because Bowie reportedly hated "The Little Drummer Boy" and didn't want to sing it. The writers quickly came up with "Peace On Earth" which Bowie sang as a counterpoint to "The Little Drummer Boy" (which was primarily sang by Crosby). The rest, as they say, is history.
"Hard Candy Christmas" (2005)
"Hard Candy Christmas" was written by Carol Hall for the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which was later made into a film in 1982 starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. This movie was a focal point for Dr. Venture in "Victor. Echo. November." in which he mistakenly thought it was a pornographic film and not a musical. In the film Parton sings the song with other female cast members as they prepare to leave the brothel. You can watch the scene on YouTube.
The banter between the Monarch and 21 & 24 at the beginning is not a reference to the musical or song but refers to the events that took place at the end of season one, specifically Dr. Girlfriend leaving the Monarch for her old flame Phantom Limb and the Monarch's subsequent incarceration. Season two was in production at the time of this recording but would not begin airing for another six months. 21 mentions that 'the smell' is 'orange vomit powder' which was noted to be utilized by the Monarch when he escaped from prison in "Powerless in the Face of Death" (he shoots it at some prison guards). There are some minor lyrical changes though they are mostly ad libs by 21 while other character sing.
"Venture Aid 2006" (2006)
This song is a cover version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" which was first performed by charity supergroup Band Aid in 1984. The purpose of the band and the song (the band's only song) was to raise awareness on poverty and hunger in Africa. Officially the song has been released under the Band Aid name three times. The original, again later in 1989 as Band Aid II with different singers and most recently in 2004 as Band Aid 20 again with new artists though a few singers did return for this one.
So far this is the first and only Venture Christmas song where characters not voiced by Jackson and Doc appear, with James Urbaniak playing Dr. Venture and Phantom Limb, Michael Sinterniklaas playing Dean and Steve Rattazzi playing Dr. Orpheus. This is potentially because the song was recorded while all of the voice work was being done for season two which completed airing in October 2006. However voice for season two would have likely been done months before December '06, so it's also possible that those three actors were in New York at the time and were willing to help out.
"Fairytale of New York" (2007)
"Fairytale of New York" is a famous Christmas song written by the Irish rock band The Pogues and done in the style of an Irish folk song. The original song also features singer Kirsty MacColl and tells the story of two lovers who have seen their youthful dreams crushed by alcoholism and drug addiction. You can listen to it here.
Although the Venture Bros. recording was released in 2007 (between seasons two and three, after Dr. Girlfriend and The Monarch were married) Doc and Jackson noted in an interview that they felt that the characters used were the most applicable to the song. The only changes made to the lyrics are were Dr. Girlfriend refers to the Monarch by name a few times in place of the actual lyrics. It's also perhaps notable that Dr. Girlfriend sings the parts normally sung by Pogues lead singer Shane MacGowan while the Monarch sings MacColl's part. The two refer to each other in derogatory terms a few times and they are not adjusted. In an interview Doc Hammer mentioned that Dr. Girlfriend probably could have sang for the Pogues without any problems if you knocked out a few of her teeth.
"Wonderful Christmastime" (2008)
This song was originally recorded in 1979 by Paul McCartney during sessions for his 1980 solo album McCartney II though it does not appear on that album but was instead was released as a single. Over the years the song has become one of the most popular Christmas songs and gets a significant amount of radio playtime during the holidays. You can watch the video on YouTube. Although the video features members of McCartney's post-Beatles band Wings the song is credited as a McCartney solo track, including when it was put on a 1993 reissue of Back to the Egg (Wings' final album, originally from 1979). McCartney has reportedly said that he is embarrassed by the track though that hasn't hurt its popularity.
Doc Hammer hates this song:
I hate that song! It's awful and I didn't want to hear that terrible "waw waw waw waw..." "onc onc onc onc..." It's awful! I'm the one who actually records them and stuff so hearing that shitty keyboard in your head phones over and over again makes me want to claw your eyes out.
This is perhaps reflected in the recording where 21 (who is voiced by Doc) constantly makes fun of the song, saying that it has "the worst instrumental" and it's the "best song ever written by children". He also stops singing a number of times to make fun of the music while 24 continues to sing. There are also a number of ad libs to the actual lyrics by 21 as well as encouragement for 24 to sing on his own and at the very end a quiet snicker can be heard.
The song was recorded and released in December of 2008 about six months after the final episode of season three, which if you recall ended with 24's death. In the beginning of the recording 21 and 24 discuss their upcoming Christmas vacation to Cancun (among other activities) and reveal that they are recording the song in June so they can get it out of the way. Sadly the trip was not to be.
"The Chipmunk Song" (2009)
This is of course a rendition of the ever popular "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" first written and performed in 1958 and credited to 'The Chipmunks' though it was of course actually written and performed by the creator of the Chipmunks, Ross Bagdasarian (stage name David Seville). The song is notable because it started the career of the fictional band and because it was one of the first to pitch up a singer and by far one of the more popular songs to use that method. You can hear and watch the song as it appeared in the original animated Chipmunks TV show.
The song is appropriate because Kevin and Tim-Tom are Doc and Jackson's voices pitched up. The banter before and during the song is similar (but more mean-spirited) to the banter before the original song though The Monarch reveals he is recording the song as a Christmas present to Dr. Girlfriend. 21 plays the role of Alvin and the moppets sing the parts of the other two chipmunks while the Monarch takes on the role of Seville, encouraging them and making sure they stay on track though he generally seems pretty displeased with 21's performance.
This song was recorded during production of season 4.2 and was released less than two weeks after the finale of season 4.1 aired giving it the closest proximity to new episodes of all the Christmas songs. Interestingly the Monarch mentions that 21 has possession of 24's skull, which is something 21 seemed to prefer to keep a secret in the series. Though the Monarch likely knew about the skull 21 always attempted to keep it out of sight but didn't seem to care when the Monarch mentioned it in this song.
"Fan Club Christmas Album 2010" (2010)
This song is based on the Beatles fan club Christmas albums that were released for the holidays while the band existed, from 1963 until 1969. Each album contained a single track from five to eight minutes long that contained partial songs, jokes, skits, carols and thanks to their fans and were mailed out on flexi discs to members of the official fan club. There are seven total tracks, though for the last two years the band members were all recorded separately. The final album, in particular, contains no material by George Harrison or Ringo Starr (both of whom only appear breifly) and mostly features an extensive visit to John Lennon and Yoko Ono's home.
However the Venture track, credited to Shallow Gravy (Hank, Dermott and HELPeR's band), is mainly based on the 1967 Beatles holiday album, Christmas Time Is Here Again! which was the last Christmas album recorded by all four band members together. You can listen to the full 1967 album on YouTube. The full song, "Christmas Time Is Here Again" was also released in 1970 as part of a compilation album of all seven years of tracks after the band broke up.
The album is based on the concept of various groups (all portrayed by members of the Beatles) auditioning for a BBC radio show. At the end John reads a poem he wrote called "When Christmas Time Is Over".
The Venture-version of course substitutes the Beatles for Shallow Gravy with Hank and Dermott singing the intro song. After that it deviates from the Beatles version significantly. It starts with various characters wishing listeners a merry Christmas including Hank & Dermott, Pete & Billy, Shoreleave & Hunter and 21 (who explicitly states that he is Gary) & 24 (who continues to say he's a ghost). Notable is that Hunter calls himself "Colonel Hunter Gathers of the OSI" with Shoreleave correcting him, saying that he's "General Hunter Gathers" now.
Colonel Gentlemen also appears twice in the track. His first words are lines from the The Futurist Manifesto, a manifesto written by Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. It introduced the concept of futurism which rejected everything old and embraced speed, technology, youth and violence. Futurism itself was largely an Italian phenomenon but did catch on elsewhere. You can read the full text (in English).
"Let us leave good sense behind like a hideous husk and let us hurl ourselves, like fruit spiced with pride, into the immense mouth and breast of the world! Let us feed the unknown, not from despair, but simply to enrich the unfathomable reservoirs of the Absurd!"
Billy then reads an except from the famous Clement Clarke Moore poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas". I won't bother quoting it because you've probably got it memorized without even really knowing how (but that link contains the full text for multiple versions, just in case).
After that we hear Hunter reading from the William S. Burroughs short story "The Junky's Christmas" from his book Interzone. "The Junky's Christmas" was later made into a short claymation film which was narrated by Burroughs and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. It's worth noting that Hunter skips a portion of the excerpt as denoted by the ellipsis below.
It was Christmas Day and Danny the Car Wiper hit the street junksick and broke after seventy-two hours in the precinct jail. It was a clear bright day, but there was warmth in the sun. Danny shivered with an inner cold. He turned up the collar of his worn, greasy black overcoat.
This beat benny wouldn't pawn for a deuce, he thought.
He was in the West Nineties. A long block of brownstone rooming houses. Here and there a holy wreath in a clean black window. Danny's senses registered everything sharp and clear, with the painful intensity of junk sickness. The light hurt his dilated eyes.
"God dammed sneakin' thief!"
Danny walked away fast and turned a corner.
Next up Dermott reads some lyrics from the Chris de Burgh song "A Spaceman Came Travelling" though he misspeaks some (saying 'mankind' instead of 'wakened') which causes Hank to interrupt him:
This lovely music went trembling through the ground,
And many were wakened on hearing that sound,
And travellers on the road, the village they found,
By the light of that ship in the sky, which shone all round...
After that Shoreleave reads a bit from a poem by Jimmy Stewart called Beau. Stewart read his poem on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson back in 1981 which you can watch here. The touching poem is about Stewart's dog. The portion Shoreleave reads is from the beginning:
Heâ€™d dig up a rose bush just to spite me
and when Iâ€™d grab him, heâ€™d turn bite me.
He bit lots of folks from day to day--
the delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldnâ€™t read our meter.
He said we owned a real man-eater.
He set the house on fire, but the storyâ€™s long to tell.
Suffice to say that he survived and the house survived as well.
And on evening walks--and Gloria took him, he was always first out the door,
The old one and I brought up the rear because our bones were sore.
Hank then reads another piece of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" though he changes a few words here and there.
And finally the song ends with Col. Gentlemen reading from the original Scots version of the 1785 Robert Burns poem "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough" (or simply "To a Mouse"). So if you were wondering why you couldn't understand him, it's not entirely because of his accent.
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!
However he can't get through the full passage because his dog interrupts him.
Finally, while all of this is going on we hear a bass riff of "Auld Lang Syne" which is another Scots poem by Robert Burns (written in 1788). Not only that but the song is also heard during the end of the 1967 Beatles Christmas album (easily identifiable while John is reading his poem) which brings everything full circle, don't you think?
"Baby It's Cold In Here" (2011)
This song is a Dr. Girlfriend and Monarch-ified version of "Baby It's Cold Outside", which is a duet written by Frank Loesser in 1944. The song was originally not intended to be a Christmas song and was played year-round on the radio, however over time came to be mainly associated with the holiday season.
Quick history on the song; after Loesser wrote it he and his wife, Lynn Garland would perform it at parties. Garland considered the song to be 'theirs', however in 1948 Loesser sold the rights to the song to MGM and she was furious. The song went on to appear in Neptune's Daughter where it was actually performed twice: first by Ricardo MontalbÃ¡n and Esther Williams and then by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett (in the latter case the roles being reversed).
The song itself, as is fairly obvious, is meant to be heard as a conversation between two people (usually a man and a woman) with the roles being denoted in the score as 'mouse' and 'wolf'. The majority of the wolf lines are sung by the male and the mouse parts by a female. Here's a version sung by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer on YouTube.
As for the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend version, the mouse parts are generally sung by the Monarch and the wolf by Dr. Girlfriend. However the majority (if not all) of the lyrics have been changed to reflect a fight the two are having. The scheme of the song remains the same, however, with rhyming lyrics, a crazy tempo and multiple mentions of how cold it is.
"The Misers" (2015)
After a three year hiatus the Venture Bros. Christmas song is back! This year we have Red Mantle and Dragoon singing the Heat Miser/Snow Miser song from the 1974 stop motion animated television spcial The Year Without a Santa Claus. In this version Red Mantle sings the part of the Snow Miser and Dragoon sings Heat Miser's lines.
You can watch the original version below:
"Last Christmas" (2019)
After another four years away, 2019 gives us a Shore Leave and Shallow Gravy collaboration of the 1984 Wham! song, "Last Christmas". Throughout the song Shore Leave talks to The Alchemist, noting that he wishes they could be together but he has to "kick ass" at OSI headquarters.
Perhaps notably, the original song's writer, George Michael, passed away on Christmas Day of 2016.
"A Spaceman Came Travelling" (2021)
This is a cover of the Chris de Burg song from 1976. The song initially did not see much success as a single and was mostly forgotten. However after de Burg's extremelly successful 1986 single "Lady In Red", "A Spaceman Came Travelling" was reissued and saw much more immediate popularity.
The song's meaning and inspiration, as described by de Burgh:
"[...] what if the star of Bethlehem was a space craft and what if there is a benevolent being or entity in the universe keeping an eye on the world and our foolish things that we do to each other?"
From the show side of things, at the end of the song we have some interaction between Pete, Billy, Dermott, Hank and HELPeR. Notably after Hank says "We nailed it!" Dermott responds with "Yeah, we nailed your mom!" which Hank notes is a touchy subject.