updated 12/10/2013 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/04/2013 AT 12:00 AM ET
As any Hallmark card can tell you, the holidays are about bringing people together. For some of us, that means reuniting with grown-up children, or welcoming long-lost cousins into our homes. But for musicians, it means something else: seasonal duets, often performed with the oddest of partners.
From reality-show novelty songs to stocking-stuffer EPs, Christmas isn’t Christmas until two people who have no business being in the same room have crowded in front of the mic to sing a holiday classic. Why do they do this? You should just as soon ask Black Friday shoppers why they camp out for hours in front of big-box stores. Holiday magic is a compelling thing.
Below, find our choices for the 10 strangest holidays duets of all time:
10. Rod Stewart and Cee Lo, "Merry Christmas, Baby"
Two of the most unique vocalists in pop teamed up for this performance at Cee Lo’s 2012 Christmas special. (A studio version also appears on the pair’s Christmas albums, Cee Lo’s Magic Moment and Merry Christmas, Baby.) Both of these guys can get crazy, but – perhaps because kids were watching – they toned it down to cover the Johnny Moore classic. Cee Lo’s wail and Rod’s rasp have never sounded more similar.
9. Susan Boyle and Elvis Presley, "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
Not just anybody gets to duet with The King, as the Presley estate has high standards when it comes to letting Elvis posthumously share the mic. Susan Boyle must have seemed like an unconventional choice – she’s the exact opposite of a hip-swinger – but she proves a properly respectful duet partner. As in all of her covers, the Britain’s Got Talent alum approaches the original with a religious reverence.
8. The Flaming Lips and Yoko Ono, "Atlas Eets Christmas"
This one’s a special kind of weird. The Flaming Lips and Yoko Ono are the only group on this list that you can actually imagine hanging out together – even if whatever you imagine them doing is undoubtedly less crazy than what they actually do in real life. (Poetry slams? Shadow-puppet contests? Water-skiing – on the moon?) We’re not quite sure of the plot of “Atlas Eets Christmas,” but put it on in the background and it sounds almost like a normal Christmas carol.