Justin Bieber Inserted into a Rankin/Bass Cartoon Justin Bieber Inserted into a Rankin/Bass Cartoon
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Justin Bieber Inserted into a Rankin/Bass Cartoon

Have you ever wanted to see a CG model of babyfaced baby-making singer Justin Bieber clunkily composited into a cruddy holiday special produced by Rankin/Bass? Me neither, but that’s what you’ll find in Bieber’s cover of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” which inserts him into the 1970 Rankin/Bass holiday special of the same name. I’m sure some viewers will be outraged by this, but frankly, I’m having trouble getting worked up over it. That’s probably because just about anything added into a Rankin/Bass cartoon promises to be an improvement over the original. What’s more concerning is that a second video of this song, featuring a live-action Bieber, will premiere in front of Arthur Christmas. If I’m a few minutes late walking into the theater for the film, you’ll understand why.

(Thanks, Whitney Grace)

  • What’s with all the hating on Rankin/Bass cartoons? Did somebody put some coal in yer stocking?

    • Kevin Dougherty

      What’s up with that indeed? Hating on some teen flavor-of-the-month is a bit sophomoric, but Rankin/Bass had some great design and music.

  • “That’s probably because just about anything added into a Rankin/Bass cartoon promises to be an improvement over the original.”


    • wever

      He apparently never got the memo that Rankin Bass cartoons are generally liked.

  • “just about anything added into a Rankin/Bass cartoon promises to be an improvement over the original”

    Haha, ouch. It just isn’t Christmas without those specials. :P

  • Mandy

    I thought this was a joke where someone was making fun of Justin Bieber! I watched the video before reading the description. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I like most of the Rankin/Bass holiday animations, especially this one. Now I’m sad that this is a real video that might end up on mtv.

  • eeteed

    amid said:

    “…a cruddy holiday special produced by Rankin/Bass…”


    “… just about anything added into a Rankin/Bass cartoon promises to be an improvement over the original…”

    now you’re just being silly.

    rankin/bass worked with harvey kurtzman, jack davis, paul coker, and many other top talent artists. the japanese stop motion studio that brought their visions to life is one of the finest studios ever, and an influence on countless artists.
    mad monster party, rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, and frosty the snowman are not only beautifully made, but also have touched the hearts of millions.

    • Mark Cee

      Sing it eeteed!

      I seem to recall Amid making a different comment about RB last year. Sure seemed like he was in favor of Rankin/Bass then..


      And the additions of that singer kid don’t matter much. It’ll all be forgotten before the end of 2011.

    • Agreed with eeteed! (Hey, that rhymed!) And just like I said elsewhere, Rankin-Bass are the pioneers of American anime, hand-drawn or stop-motion. So, not all of their work is great, but I have a lot of respect for them.

      Now, if this music video were done in Japan, and Justin Bieber’s design was done by Paul Coker or Jack Davis, then I’d be a much happier camper! Beiber, as he appears in this video, detracts from it.

  • SR

    That was actually really entertaining hahahaha

  • Was never into the Rankin/Bass cartoons, I couldn’t get into them. Besides, they were overrated anyways. I cant help but feel that this is wrong beyond so many levels.

  • Brendan Spillane

    I was waiting for the Burgermeister Meisterburger to turn up, see Justin Bieber & shout, “GET DA BRAT OUT OF HERE!!”

  • wever

    Why would Bieber cover Santa Claus Is Coming To Town an–oh. Arthur Christmas. Right.

    ….but…. WHY?!

    • Funkybat

      Upon learning the unfortunate news that Bieber has this song in “Arthur Christmas” I can only hope that it is confined to the end credits, where it will do no damage to the actual film. After listening to this video, it certainly sounds like the kind of music typically used in modern animated films to “play us out” of the theater.

      • wever

        If it is anywhere else besides the credits, it will sorely affect my enjoyment.

      • pt

        the fact that this terrible song with some no-talent teen idol is tacked on to the end of a sub-par computer animated christmas movie should be warning enough that Arthur Christmas is going to be a bad movie.

        Its actually really sad that Sony/Aardman have to try and entice kids to see Arthur based solely on the stupid song in the end credits and not by telling an interesting story or entertaining an audience.

  • “Huh? A Rankin/Bass special? I hate Rankin/Bass specials! And Rankin/Bass specials hate me! Either they are going or I am going — and I am certainly not going.”

  • “So you’re too cool for Rankin/Bass?” we say with a smile,

    “Then you’re too old for all the things that make a life worthwhile.

    “Wipe that comment from your blog! Yes, they should exist.

    Just like love, you know they’re there, waiting to be missed.”

  • “You silly readers like everything you see! When you wise up, you’ll realize that Rankin/Bass can’t cut the mustard!”

    “But we —-”

    “Sil-ly, sil-ly, sil-ly!”

    “Oh Rankin/Bass, we don’t care what Amid says.”

    “We know your specials are aren’t crummy.”

    “We know, Rankin/Bass. We just know…”

  • uncle wayne

    Jeee-zam PETES! Pleeez….give me Bing!!

  • “My own blog, turned against me! Well, my eyes are opened for the very first time to what life is all about. And I know just where I belong. Watching Rankin/Bass specials.

    “Today is not the end. It’s only the beginning…”

  • Justin

    What were they thinking?! They’ve ruined my favorite Christmas special!

  • Funkybat

    Regarding Bieber being inserted; Feh and meh…..I dislike the flavor-of-the-month teen “musicians” for the most part (I’ve been hatin’ on then since NKOTB!) but I have to disagree on Rankin-Bass in general.

    Yeah, I know where the hate is coming from, there is a fair contingent of people out there who look down on them. My own dad would always lambaste me for wasting my time watching “that badly-animated junk.” He was a big fan of classic Disney and Warner Bros., and considered Rankin-Bass, H-B, Filmation etc. to be pure dreck. Never stopped me from enjoying them, and most people I know have fond feelings for those Rankin-Bass specials.

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but after re-watching a lot of those old RB specials with my adult trained-artist eyes, there is still a lot to give them credit for. They’re certainly better artistically than a lot of other TV animation from that era, let alone later eras. Like someone else said, it wouldn’t be the holidays without them.

  • A Cruddy Holiday special? You wish you had the type of success that Rankin/Bass enjoyed with their holiday films. As a matter of fact, Rankin/Bass holiday specials have gotten even more popular over the years, which is evidence of their sheer timelessness.
    It’s sad that you see these specials as being not special. I see a whole lot of charm and magic in these films and it’s not about nostalgia. Even though the animation is far from being sophisticated, the films still work their charm with audiences.

    I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a fan of these films, and if you talk to some of the best creative people in the animation business, you’ll find many more.
    Rankin/Bass were smart enough to hire the best voice people and designers for their projects. Plus the Rankin Bass specials have great music in them! I’d have to say that next to the Sherman Bros., Maury Laws provided dozens of clever, memorable tunes to nearly all their films.

  • Mister Twister

    No. No! No, God, please, no! No. No… NOOOOOOOOOOOOO-

  • rgallows

    I haven’t seen something so fulla fairy dust since that Tinkerbell movie. Maybe Biebz is to Tink what Sheik is to Princess Zelda.

  • I find it ironic that the new stop-motion animation looks worse than the original animation from 40 YEARS AGO!

    • Mel

      It was definitely CG.
      It seems to me like the animators just removed every few frames from certain ‘less important’ actions to give it that clunky feel. The problem is that it doesn’t match the frame pattern of the original animation at all. Hardly ever is one motion smooth and the next completely choppy in the original. It was still pretty easy to tell what was happening. I don’t feel this way about the addition of Justin.

      Justin’s design doesn’t mingle with the other characters well. I mean, how would you be able to tell his facial features apart from those of other characters if they hadn’t been so exaggerated? How else would he be able to express himself? *sigh*
      You would think the would just try to follow a similar frame pattern, but I suppose they just couldn’t help making Justin smooth and robotic.

      I know this is all easier said than done, but the clunkiness and sculpted feel are two of the things that give these cartoons their timeless charm. It is just too bad that these artists were unable to replicate it.

  • D

    I don’t know whats worse the fact that the good old-school stop motion of Rankin & Bass was crapped on by cheap CG or the fact that the spirit of the old Rankin & Bass cartoons was pillaged by Justin Bieber

  • Adding insult to injury, the Bieber character is not even created with stop-motion.

  • Toonio

    Another reason to hit the Bieber with a water bottle.

  • Scarabim

    Rankin-Bass’ Rudolph and Frosty specials were superb. They’ve held up beautifully, even in an age of CGI. But the other specials…yeah, not so much. (Especially the Rudolph and Frosty sequels).

    I don’t get the Bieber hate. He’s a nice kid with a successful career. I hope he doesn’t wind up like Michael Jackson. May he have a happy life.

  • John K drew some pretty funny caricatures of him. I doubt he would make a video for him Though! Who knows, it might be amusing.

  • Emily

    I love it. Hahaha…

  • Gerard de Souza

    I LOve RB’s Xmas stuff. I’m way too old and of the wrong gender to get too much into Justin Beiber but I liked this….and the new animation.

    The stories of those RB specials are almost as good as Disney’s best (storywise).

  • Peter H

    Didn’t they do something similar with Mariah Carey 3 years ago?

  • Aimee.

    When will the auto-tune end? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

  • J

    I’m a big Rankin-Bass Animagic fan, but then I’m a sucker for stop-motion animation. I don’t care much for Bieber’s version of the song, but the video was kind of cute. I could have done without the rockin’ Santa, though.

    Obviously, Amid is more a fan of THE GRINCH! ;)

  • LK

    Sorry Amid, but that was pretty entertaining. Yes, ‘caricature’ Beiber is creepy, but so is ‘live action’ Beiber. In a way, seeing him animated makes him a little less so. He’s already pretty cartoony in real life.

    And aside from some noticeable keying/image quality inconsistencies, they actually animated him with that lovable jerky movement the original Rankin Bass specials had.

    Trust me, I’m not a Beiber fan – this is probably the first time I’ve ever willing watched one of his videos – but it works.

    • Funkybat

      I’ll admit that whoever did this Bieberization did TRY to match the original animation style, I could see the intentional jerkiness here and there, as well as the character design. Still, there were numerous parts that felt wrong, where shadows that should have been inserted were not, cut-out looking compositing, just a lot of little things that (even watching it muted) jumped out at me as wrong. It could have been done much more poorly, no doubt, I just wish it had not been done at all.

      (Oh, and the Bieber character’s face is a little disturbing to look at. If they had given it a woman’s figure & hairstyle, it would have totally worked as a vampy vixen……(shudder))

  • I’ll echo what eeTeed and Giovanni Jones said, but I really think Amid wanted to stir up some name-calling in the comments section.

  • JimBob

    WOW. You don’t like the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, Amid? Ladies and gents, I am in awe… I think we’ve all found the REAL Grinch here!

  • Bob

    I rather like the R/B corpus — especially Mad Monster Party? and many of the Xmas specials… They certainly have attained classic status.

    I don’t mind people reinventing them in some way, but I couldn’t get past 30 seconds of his singing… I had never heard him sing before, and hope to never do so again.

  • Jeffy Lube

    Dude. I started cracking up at the beginning with the characters jammin’ to the music. Interesting to hear some “ABC” tribute for the Jackson 5 in there. Personally, I would have had the video centered around Topper. He’s my favorite. Maybe have him save Christmas or something typical. Honk! Honk!

    This kind of thing has been going on for a while now. Destiny’s Child had one for Rudolph a little while back.


    Then there’s the homemade mash-ups like Full Metal Christmas…


    and Hey-Ya Charlie Brown Christmas


    Happy Holidays!

  • Baron Lego

    I would have enjoyed the video more if stop-motion Bieber had been eaten by the Bumble at the end…

  • joe

    That was….interesting. I don’t care for Justin Bieber, but it seems a bit insulting to insert him in random scenes from the story. Hell, it’d be insulting it insert ANY star randomly in a classic.

    I fond myself laughing more than getting angry, to be honest.

  • Ok, so what’s wrong with Rankin/Bass again? Holy crap, everyone hates everything apparently!

  • Glad people are sticking their necks out for Rankin/Bass here. I’m amazed that someone who calls himself an animation critic can hate on Rankin/Bass, let alone their classic Christmas specials. Everyone seems to be mentioning Rudolph and Frosty, but does anyone remember Santa Clause Is Coming To Town? Some of the best voice acting and music I’ve ever seen in a holiday special, and a pretty solid plot and characters to go with it.

    And you can’t dismiss RB’s non-stop motion work. The duo directed the wonderful promo-Ghibli-animated film The Last Unicorn, along with the underrated Lord of the Rings animated films.

    • *proto-Ghibli-animated is what I intended to say.

  • Saye

    Man, I didn’t quite interpret his remarks the way others have. Maybe it’s just because I never had many memories of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and aren’t so quick to defend it from being called “cruddy” (and that was only for one short, not their entire catalog); or maybe because I saw “improvement” as tongue-in-cheek, seeing as the video turns the sentimental Christmas short into 3 minutes of teen idol worship. I honestly don’t see him as hating on all Rankin-Bass productions. Who would?

    • Frankly, The word ‘Cruddy’ in my book is not exactly words of high praise.

  • s.w.a.c.

    Part of me suspects that without the experience of growing up on the Rankin/Bass specials, we would never have got A Nightmare Before Christmas, which certainly owes some sort of debt to them.

    Personally, I can’t get through the holidays without a dose of Heat Miser and Snow Miser and a visit to the Island of Misfit Toys (although I wouldn’t mind if Bieber was exiled to the Island of Post-Puberty Pop Moppets).

  • Always loved all those RB Christmas specials. Grew up on them and it became a tradition for the whole family to watch them when they aired on TV. Now, my wife and I own the DVDs and watch them every year with our own kids, who love them.

    Bieber, not so much.

  • FigmentJedi

    Amid having a negative opinion about something very beloved? Business as usual I see.

    Also, that CG Beiber is just awful. Didn’t even bother trying to make it look like an Animagic puppet.

  • I really don’t like that an animated classic was butchered just to make a mediocre teen pop “sensation” music video of the singer’s horrible variation of a classic holiday song. It is downright pathetic and unimaginative that they resort to this just make a quick dollar.

    Whoever ever came up with the idea should have been fired. It is just so unbearable to watch.

  • Keith Paynter

    2:45 How did JB end up with Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase?