Top 10 Indie Christmas Songs

Every year, from as early as mid-October, we hear the same standard list of Christmas classics; The Pogues, The Darkness, Elton John and Wham!. Christmas basically provides appreciation for artists that the general public happily forget for the rest of the year. A lot of the bands or musicians that people associate with their Christmas hits actually have a whole range of brilliant songs outside of December that tend to get forgotten about. People will look confused when I mention various names until I begrudgingly explain the seasonal number one that they are best known for. On top of this, by the time you reach the age of roughly eighteen, this adds up to eighteen plus solid months of hearing the same ten or twenty songs which really starts to grate.

So this yearly frustration has led me to become the ultimate hipster and put together a list of more obscure Christmas tracks. Some of them may be slightly better known and some might be utterly awful but for anyone looking for something alternative or simply to irritate people at your seasonal events by refusing to play the classic hits, this list may appeal to you.

Zombie Christmas: Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler (2011)

Emmy The Great is an artist I adore to begin with so that definitely gave this track a head start (hence putting it first). Finding out she has an entire Christmas album full of tracks such as ‘Jesus the Reindeer’ and ‘Sleigh Me’ just made me appreciate her even more. The whole album is pretty brilliant both in terms of sarcastic themes and quality music, but ‘Zombie Christmas’ had to be my top pick.

Christmas Wrapping: The Waitresses (1981)

This one is an older track suggested to me by a friend who heard I was looking for alternative Christmas songs and it’s seriously awesome especially for anyone who loves out-dated, punky female vocals!

Merry Christmas I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight: The Ramones (1989)

Another from the 80s – despite the fact that the 70s are more my era music wise any Christmas song by The Ramones had to be included. The Ramones are fantastic anyway; perhaps that’s why so many people wear their T-Shirts? (sarcastic optimism) and this track doesn’t let them down, of all the songs on my list, this is probably the one I’d listen to even if I wasn’t writing about it.

The Christmas Song: The Raveonettes (2004)

Flashing forward again to the twenty first century, this track almost provides a bridge between the low, indie rock tones of The Ramones and the slow ethereal pace of Emmy The Great. In my opinion this is a great combination and I find it reaches the point of relaxing but manages to avoid the point of tediousness which is always a good thing!

Christmas TV: Slow Club (2009)

The first time I listened to this one I did wonder at first whether it would hit the point of tediousness that I mentioned above, however I was pleasantly surprised. I will happily admit that while faster tracks and indie rock are usually my cup of tea, I can cope with slower, more gentle (or cheesy) tracks if they are alternative enough. That is not a conscious decision just an unfortunately hipster observation that I’ve had to learn to live with. This is definitely a Christmas song that brings out that element of my music taste and serves as a guilty pleasure, but I challenge anyone to seriously hate it. Definitely worth a listen and very Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros!

I Want An Alien For Christmas: Fountains of Wayne (2004)

‘He can live in the bathtub’ is perhaps the best line of this song and one you wouldn’t expect from a Christmas song. It might be no ‘Stacy’s Mom’ but it’s damn good, especially if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten track to brighten your December. Classic Fountains of Wayne: top quality lyrics and a beat that makes you tap your feet whether you like it or not.

Santa Claus: Belle & Sebastian (Date unknown)

This has to be the most obscure or at least the most difficult to get hold of on my list, it’s far easier to find covers by The Sonics or James Brown but if you can chase it down it’s definitely worth the hunt. Belle and Sebastian are always fantastic so if we can have a Christmas song by them, the winter months could be vastly improved.

Last Christmas: Jimmy Eat World (2001)

I’m cheating a little bit here by picking not only a cover of one of the Christmas hits but possibly the most hated of all of them! However Jimmy Eat World are one of my favourite bands and they seriously improve this track simply by speeding it up a little and subtly adding their own style.

Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Chistmas: Eels (2009)

Eels are fabulous and this track is fabulous, it’s definitely one of my top picks, made all the better by the line ‘baby Jesus – born to rock’ as if it needed improvement. Anyone looking for a little bit of rock or indie to inject into their Christmas playlist should start here, this band don’t need imaginative lyrics to bring something appealing and unique to this time of year.

Xmas Time Is Here Again: My Morning Jacket (2000)

Let’s finish in 2000 with something a tad depressing. I think this last track ties up my introductory promise that at least one of my chosen alternative Christmas songs will be vaguely awful. But if you’re looking to spend December hating Christmas whilst nursing a stiff drink this is the song for you!

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Periods are Not a Luxury

The VAT on sanitary products that was maintained by popular government vote a few months back is an insult to over half of our population. However, it is even more of a problem for specific groups of people; those dependent on student loans, those with particularly low incomes or homeless people, for example. For those who experience periods, sourcing sanitary products can be immensely difficult or just plain expensive, despite the fact that they are so necessary. I would argue that tampons or sanitary towels are logistically even more of a necessity that toilet roll if you want to get into picky details, a relevant comparison considering how quick people are to point out that loo roll is also taxed. In addition, I would make the point that many feminists and other political activists have made before me – focussing on one issue does not imply that you aren’t aware of, or don’t care about others. The fact that toilet roll is taxed is just as ridiculous as the tax on sanitary products but firstly does not target a specific demographic, and secondly as previously mentioned, toilet paper is actually easier to go without (given the continuous nature of menstruation).

The government have now switched tactics and begun advertising intent to use the money raised by this tax to support survivors of domestic abuse. But obviously this has only raised more questions and is still problematic. Tying domestic abuse directly to sanitary products is utterly bizarre, if they want to help survivors why not tax cake or other food items, there is a vast range of luxury items that would raise far more money without posing such a problem. The list includes; exotic meat, edible icing flowers, Jaffa Cakes and alcoholic jellies – it would surely make more sense to tax these products that aren’t a basic necessity? It is also not the exclusive responsibility of people who menstruate to support people who have suffered abuse; this should not be singled out as a charitable cause and should be an issue amongst many that is a priority of the population as a whole. The other major problem with this suggestion is the gendered language surrounding it, the government are deeming menstruation a biological event experienced only by women, thus completely erasing the experiences of trans men, non binary people and women who don’t menstruate. This is being followed up by an association that implies that domestic abuse is also an experience and responsibility solely of women. The other point often raised is the difficulty of removing the tax from an item in regards to EU laws, however activists are not arguing that the removal of VAT is simple or straightforward. We are attempting to point out that it should be prioritised more.

These arguments only provide a brief summary of some of the reasons that the tax on sanitary products remains massively problematic. But hopefully it is enough to point out why people are staging such a variety of protests against the tax. Charlie Edge is a strong example of someone who has recently held a protest against the tax (free-bleeding outside the houses of parliament) and received massive media attention from radio stations, newspapers and magazines. Inspired by her and others, Royal Holloway students have spent the last week focussing on the issues surrounding sanitary products. Tegan Marlow (President of the Feminism Society) arranged a collection of tampons and pads for local homeless charities that went down immensely well with two enormous boxes being filled. The society went on to hold a discussion last week on why the tax is a problem as well as how to break the stigma and squeamishness surrounding menstruation in general. This week with the help of Tegan and the Feminism Society, I organised a protest/campaign stall on Royal Holloway’s campus. We made various signs containing slogans against the tax and asked people to offer their comments and take part in photos with the signs or whiteboards on which they could offer their own response. We received a surprising amount of enthusiastic participation and managed to collect a huge number of photographs with the help of The Orbital’s photographer Yasmeen. A massive range of students got involved, not limited purely to women which was great to see and we will be sharing these photos and responses online and through media outlets over the next fortnight.

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