Weird grandfathers rejoice! William Shatner and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons have released a new version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and it’s pretty surreal. It’s so strange in fact it’s unclear who the video is for exactly, except of course, for the fathers of people like me, in other words, contemporary grandfathers might believe this kicks ass. For the rest of us, it’s bizarre.
On Tuesday, William Shatner (you know, Captain Kirk, T.J Hooker, the guy from Boston Legal) dropped the new music video, which features him delivering “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in his classic, halted, pausing…ever…other…word, signature line-delivery. He’s surrounded by elves, small children, and eventually when the song starts to “rock,” glitter, too. Gibbons joins Shatner for the part that rocks, which helps to make the whole enterprise (see what I did there) less terrifying but not by much. Shatner’s music has long been in the self-mocking, bizarrely ironic style, but the corny Christmas tableau in this video scans more as creepy than funny.
In fairness, Shatner’s sense of humor is tough to crack, and it’s unclear just how much he’s actually kidding with this stuff. In 2017, I spoke to the man on the phone and he claimed that he didn’t know he had a specific way of speaking or delivering lines, and he only had to rely on what others told him. The weird thing is, he seemed to believe what he was saying was the truth. This is further complicated by the fact that Shatner has been doing these weird song-covers since waaay back and certainly before he was in on the joke of his own odd performance style. Want proof? Check out him doing “It Was a Very Good Year” back in the 70s.
For context, there is some indication Shatner knows his musical stylings are absurd. In the 1999 film Free Enterprise, Shatner plays a delusional version of himself, determined to put on a one-man musical version of Julius Caesar in which he plays on the parts. This culminates in Shatner doing a rap set to some hardcore Shakespeare dialogue. In truth, it’s probably preferable to his new Christmas song.
William Shatner’s new “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” song is promoting his new Christmas album, which you can check out right here.