Ten of the Best: Alternative Christmas Songs


Christmas music – loathe it or love it, you really can’t avoid it (especially at this time of year).

Personally, I quite look forward to Noddy screaming “It’s Christmas!” but that might be in my rather strange children’s television dream. There are some wonderful Christmas compilations out there, A Christmas Gift To You From Phil Spector being a particular favourite.  However, walking around the remaining shops in our High Street, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is just a mere pool of about 53 songs available to play. If you work in one of these shops, you can be done and dusted with jingles and sleigh bells by December 5th!

So to help you out and bring back a little Christmas cheer back to the ears, here is my top ten list of alternative Christmas songs that you won’t hear on continuous rotation.

Top Ten Alternative Christmas Songs (listed in alphabetical order)

1) Eels – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
Bubblegum rock at its finest, a pun in the title, it is the song that just keeps on giving. As fun and cringeworthy as the title suggests. “Baby Jesus born to rock” indeed!

2) Felice Brothers – Murder By Mistletoe
A downbeat offering from the New York collective. A tale of murder committed to the backdrop of festivities, adding a film noir element to proceedings.  All sounds quite depressing, but there is some beautiful poetry here to dive into. “At the bar I’ll watch the news awhile, just to see the anchor woman smile.” Stunning and chilling in equal measure.

3) Fountains Of Wayne – I Want An Alien For Christmas
Back with the bubblegum pop to cheer us up after number 2.  A song that gleefully revels in the excitement of being a child. “I want an alien for Christmas. I want an alien this year. I want a little green guy about three feet high, with seventeen eyes who knows how to fly.” Santa with his work cut out there.

4) The Goodies – Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me
A product of its time. A British comedy trio with one of their many attempts at a Christmas hit. Bawdy seventies seaside postcard humour, all set to a traditional tune.  As much as you may want to ignore this, once you have heard it you will always think of the chorus when you hear the tune. “I can’t stand little girls, bigger ones are better!”

5) Half Man Half Biscuit – Upon Westminster Bridge
Time for a bit of modern satire to wash away that guilty seventies indulgence.  Lyrical bombshells a-plenty dropping from the Birkenhead band. “If Jesus came to earth today, they’d crucify him straight away, upon a cross of MDF and use No Need For Nails”. If you like this Christmas offering it is also worth checking out “It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas”.

6) Mogwai – Christmas Steps
After all that clever word play, let’s relax with a ten minute instrumental from Scottish band Mogwai. Well, I say relax, but this is more like the soundtrack to watching a TV thriller in your head.  Not what most people would describe as being ‘Christmassy’, there are certainly no sleigh bells or jingles here. Mogwai’s quiet/loud dynamic is on full display here, which I guess does sum up Christmas quite well, especially for those of you with kids!

7) Paloma Faith & Josh Weller – It’s Christmas (And I Hate You)
One in the tradition of the Pogue’s “Fairytale Of New York”, a duet of bickering rivalry within a relationship. Avoid falling out with loved ones over the festive period by having this on continuous rotation on a karaoke machine. Dissipate your spite through song.  You’re most welcome!

8) Tim Minchin – White Wine In The Sun
Australian comic with a heartfelt ballad to enjoying Christmas with no religious connotations. This song genuinely brings a tear to my eye. The simple joy of spending time with your family. “I really like Christmas. It’s sentimental I know, but I just really like it”.  No cynicism here.

9) The Vandals – My First Xmas (As A Woman)
American punk band The Vandals with their joyful ditty about being comfortable in your own skin.  You won’t hear this one at your local carol service! Under three minutes of jump around goodness.

10) Vince Guaraldi – Linus & Lucy
Now for those of us of a certain age (*coughs, #scratchesheadwherethereusedtobehair) Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without watching a Peanuts Christmas special. The man behind the brilliant music from these Snoopy cartoons is Vince Guaraldi. This track always sums up that feeling for me.  I cannot hear this without picturing all the characters dancing around on the stage, while Schroeder bangs out this tune.

Hope you have found something that perked your interest or at least made you laugh. Now let’s all rush outside and try to catch snowflakes on our tongue!

Written By

Mark Simpson hails from a small bluey green planet from the Milky Way galaxy. The fourth failed attempt at a daughter by a loving couple that took doctors and nurses so seriously as to actually be them. Brought up on his elder brothers' musical influences of 70s metal and prog rock, he discovered he was a completely different blood group from his siblings, which allowed his ears to wander off in many and varied directions. This did nothing for his looks, but it provided some wonderful sonic sustenance that has soundtracked his life ever since. Although having an ongoing battle with Fate in keeping loved ones on a corporeal plane, he continues to throw words and tunes together in the hope that the mixture should be heavy enough to bruise Fate's foot if they land in the right place.

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