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!