Here they come/ Walking down the street/ They get the funniest looks/ From everyone they meet/ Hey hey! It's the Osbournes, and people say they're the funniest, most heartwarming family to hit the small screen since Homer and Marge invited the animators into their lives. What the Osbournes say is ****ing unprintable for the most part – but therein, oddly enough, lies much of their charm: Ozzy and Sharon and their equally plain-speaking offspring, Kelly and Jack, are like a great big whoopee cushion of Anglo-Saxon bluntness dropped into California's mannered, mirror-gazing tofu culture, a floater in the swimming-pool of Hollywood life.
For those without MTV, The Osbournes is an exercise in oafish frivolity to rival This Is Spinal Tap, all the more hilarious for being a bona fide documentary. Observing the hapless Ozzy grappling vainly with a television remote control the size of a breeze block, or spluttering at Sharon's suggestion of a pet therapist to stop their dogs fouling the carpets is only part of the fun. Just as entertaining is the spectacle of his wife/manager Sharon's ruthless attempts at neighbourly diplomacy. If Ozzy is the Prince of Darkness, Sharon is surely the Bride of Frankenstein, a terrifying prospect to face across a board-room table.
This tie-in album features the best lines from the series – I particularly like Kelly's feisty rejection of a visit to the gynaecologist, "My teeth, my car, my vagina: my business!" – along with a bunch of favourite tracks hand-picked or performed by family members, with Sharon's influence, I suspect, being decisive. It's so much more cute, cuddly and MOR than Ozzy's usual fare, with Pat Boone opening proceedings with a louche swing cover of "Crazy Train" – "Mental wounds drivin' me insane," he croons. "I'm goin' off the rails on a crazy train!" – before Ozzy offers his tribute to John Lennon, "Dreamer", the kind of power ballad that would test even Beavis and Butt-head's devotion.
Things perk up with Kelly's pop-metal pummelling of "Papa Don't Preach", which recalls the Go-Gos, and the Kinks' "You Really Got Me", chosen by Ozzy as a touchstone of primal rock'n'roll spirit; but then, round about System of a Down's "Snowblind", it all plummets into a slough of maudlin, life-affirming anthems – Lennon's "Imagine", the Cars' "Drive", Starsailor's "Good Souls", Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" – that climaxes in an orgy of shameless sentimentality with Ozzy's "Mama, I'm Coming Home", written for Sharon and chosen by her. Their teenage son Jack, meanwhile, is clearly a chip off the maternal-managerial block, judging by the inclusion of a track by Dillusion, "a band I have been developing over at Epic for a year now". And he's – what? – all of 16. It all adds up to a package that's less an album than a marketing opportunity, one doubtless to be followed in due course by the Osbournes video game, Osbournes sport drink and probably a tasty Osbournes bat burger, too.