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7 Surprisingly Good Holiday Albums

The titles may sound like jokes, but this music might get you in a seriously enjoyable holiday mood

Holiday music is everywhere at this time of year, and we'll always love classics such as Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," the Beach Boys' "Little Saint Nick" or Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad." Here, however, are some alternative gems that may make you feel like you're having famous pals over to the house.

Steve Stevens (left) and Billy Idol perform at the eighth annual MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit Concert, Holiday Albums AARP

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Billy Idol (R) with Steve Stevens

Happy Holidays: A Very Special Christmas Album

Performed by: Billy Idol

The orchestration has a karaoke quality, but the seminal punk rocker seriously sells this set of holiday chestnuts. You haven't heard "Frosty the Snowman" until you've gotten a load of Idol's "Thumpety-thump-thump!"

Lynyrd Skynyrd perform, Holiday Albums

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"Sparky" Matejka, Rickey Medlocke and Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Christmas Time Again

Performed by: Lynyrd Skynyrd

The album cover shows Santa in a pickup truck with a set of antlers mounted on the hood, and the contents are just as edgy. The Southern hard rockers growl through the title song, which is nicely balanced by the lilting guitar riffs of "Classical Christmas."

Ian Anderson performs The songs of Jethro Tull, Holiday Albums

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Ian Anderson

The Jethro Tull Christmas Album 

Ian Anderson, rock's most famous flautist, recycles a few wintry oldies, including the band's classic "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow." But there's also lots of newer instrumental music to make a perfect background for a happenin' holiday party.

Megan Mullally, NBC Holiday Christmas Album

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Megan Mullally

NBC Celebrity Christmas 

Performed by: Various NBC stars

Believe it or not, you can still track down new copies of this 2001 oddity online: Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) does a lovely job with "Silent Night," and there's a goofy charm in some of the The West Wing stars mixing it up with "A Wonderful Christmas Time."

Bob Keeshan as Capt. Kangaroo, Holiday Albums

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Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas From Captain Kangaroo 

The joyous voice of the immortal Bob Keeshan makes this album sparkle — and there's some nice singing from Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum) as well.

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister performs on stage during Azkena Rock Festival, Holiday Albums AARP

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Dee Snider of Twisted Sister

A Twisted X-Mas: Live in Las Vegas

Performed by: Twisted Sister

I'm not what you'd call an anthem rock aficionado, but I'm pretty sure those driving guitars on "Silver Bells" got Twisted Sister a prominent spot on Santa's "naughty" list.

Dr. Demento records his Internet radio show at at his home studio in Lakewood, Holiday Albums AARP

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The inimitable Dr. Demento

Dr. Demento Presents: The Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time 

Forget "surprisingly good" — this just might be the best Christmas album ever. Christmas is the season of one-shot hits, and this collection takes one great shot after another — including the Singing Dogs' "Jingle Bells," producer Stan Freberg's "Nuttin' for Christmas" and, best of all, Freberg's collaboration with Daws Butler on the forgotten 1953 classic, "Christmas Dragnet."