Holiday seasons come and go and each year you ask in vain, "Where can I find C-3P0 and R2-D2 crooning Christmas carols along side a young Jon Bon Jovi?" Well, I'm happy to report your search ends here. You needn't look any further than Christmas in the Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album.
Even more forgotten than the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special, it seems like my family and I are the only ones in on this little secret. I had the Christmas in the Stars cassette when I was a kid and played it year round, save when certain family members made it "mysteriously" go missing for long stretches of time.
Nowadays when I tell people that there is a Star Wars Christmas album, it always plays out the same way. Their curiosity is piqued at first. But once I share some clips, their face turns pale in horror. Yes, this album is truly awful without your nostalgia earplugs firmly in place. It is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures.
But enough introduction. Now it's time to get some cocoa warming, throw on your favorite ugly Christmas sweater, and follow along with this YouTube playlist while I give you a track-by-track breakdown of the entire album. Just ignore that uneasy feeling in your stomach—it's not indigestion.
1. Christmas in the Stars
"Oh my stars!" The title track quickly establishes the musical style of the album—C-3PO awkwardly talk-singing the lyrics over a backing choir while R2-D2 beeps randomly. A storyline about a group of droids that make toys for "S. Claus" is also introduced. One of these droids mistakenly lingers under the mistletoe and gets kissed by Chewbacca. Hilarity ensues.
Lyrical Highlight: Everyone will have a cookie, I bought extra for the wookiee.
2. Bells, Bells, Bells
C-3PO is shocked when R2-D2 innocently inquires, "What are bells?" He likens this simple question to being asked, "What is indigestion?" (something a droid could never experience), and, "What is Einsten's theory?" (someone who wasn't around a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away). Thus, C-3PO takes it upon himself to teach R2 about the "thunderous, wondrous sound of bells." Other irrelevant earthly references like H.G. Wells, the Japanese, and cows also make their way into the lyrics.
Lyrical Highlight: Bells of every kind and sort, bells that play and bells for sport, chiming what the hour is now, or they'll lead you to a cow.
3. The Odds Against Christmas
Inspired by the running gag in The Empire Strikes Back where C-3PO announces the odds of every dire situation, ol' Goldenrod muses about "the odds against Christmas being Christmas." What does he determine? 365 to 1, of course.
Lyrical Highlight: You have to remember, when you're in December, that you're at the close of a year. What would you have done if time had run out before Christmas was here?
4. What Can You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?)
In their next appearance, the toy-making droids review their Christmas list. Scarf for Skywalker? Check. Perfume for the Princess? Check. Ear muffs for Han Solo? Um, okay. But what to get the wookiee? Uh oh, they got him a comb last year! A tie clip, galoshes and shaving foam are all ruled out. They also consider "love and understanding, and good will to men." I'd like to see how quickly their arms get pulled out of their sockets when Chewie opens up that load of crap on Christmas morning.
Lyrical Highlight: What can you get in a hurry for a furry kind of friend like that to take home?
5. R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas
C-3PO gives R2-D2 his Christmas present—a children's choir singing this sappy song. One can't blame R2 for feeling slightly uncomfortable by his friend's heavy-handed gesture, that is until Jon Bon Jovi makes his promised appearance to sing lead vocals! Now C-3PO's shot through the heart, and Jon Bon Jovi's to blame!
Lyrical Highlight: And if the snow becomes to deep, just give a little beep.
6. Sleigh Ride
Not only does R2-D2 not know what bells are, he doesn't know how to sing, the silly bucket! Luckily C-3PO, who has been talk-singing for half an album now, is more than happy to teach him the basics. Borrowing the melody of "Sleigh Ride" he explains, "Add a note to one you sounded just before, and another one after that, and then another three or more, and suddenly you are singing notes galore." As Han Solo would say, I'm glad the professor's here to tell us these things.
Lyrical Highlight: Just get your circuits buzzing, a near half dozen will do. If you can get them ringin' then we all will be singin' with you.
7. Merry, Merry Christmas
The droid choir finally thinks up a better gift for Chewbacca—a brush. Bet you didn't see that coming! They go on to sing about all the cool toys they have been building, such as a baseball that throws itself, a toy robot that puts itself to sleep by counting sheep, and a costume that makes you disappear. Would you believe that Chewie steals said costume intent on some droid-tickling mischief?
Lyrical Highlight: Here is a hammer without a head, so when you miss the nail you'll never hurt your thumb instead.
8. A Christmas Sighting ('Twas The Night Before Christmas)
When some of the droids speculate that "S. Claus" doesn't really exist, C-3PO interjects with an "S. Claus" sighting from his memory bank. In other words, it's a recitation of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with a few bits changed to be more Star Wars-y. Hey, at least we get a break from his talk-singing.
Lyrical Highlight: Needing a wrench that I couldn't find, I went back to the shop leaving R2 behind.
9. The Meaning of Christmas
"S. Claus" finally shows up at the toy factory, but the droids are confused when he isn't quite the bowl full of jelly that C-3PO described. The man reveals that he is actually Santa's son. Apparently there are too many children in the galaxy for the real Santa Claus to handle, so he outsources some of them. Then, with a warbly singing voice worse than even C-3PO's, S. Claus wraps up the album by explaining that the true meaning of Christmas is peace and love, or something generic like that. They really should have revealed S. Claus to be Jon Bon Jovi.
Lyrical Highlight: Not only this year, but every year, as far back as anyone can remember, and way into the future.
So how did this overlooked holiday novelty ever get made? Record producers Meco Monardo and Tony Bongiovi (cousin of Jon "Bongiovi") had a surprise hit on their hands in 1977 when they gave the Star Wars theme a disco remix. Then in 1980, they decided to "get the band back together" to see if Star Wars musically meshed with Christmas as well as it did with disco (the resounding answer—NO). For the full story—from George Lucas nearly pulling the plug late in production, to the record company going out of business the week the album was released—check out this fascinating oral history.
NOTE: This post was originally written for my old blog. It is revisited here with minor edits, additions, and cutting-edge graphical enhancements.