I love Christmas music. But hearing the same songs year after year with few new editions of the classics or surprisingly good originals can get as tired as Santa Claus after millions of cookies and far too much dairy in one night. (How does he do it?!)
Over the years, I’ve added various fresh takes on old favourites to my own Christmas music playlist – and I figure you might like (some of) them too. In no particular order, let’s dig in to some different versions of the songs and sounds that tend to drive us nuts after a few too many listens.
WARNING: Some of these bands may be on the naughty list with their holiday tunes…so STOP HERE if you absolutely have to stay on Santa’s good side.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Full disclosure…I used to jam with some friends and we’d play at our school Christmas concert. But we didn’t have a singer, and even if we did – he/she probably wouldn’t want to sing the lyrics to Rudolph. And this bluesy instrumental is way cooler than we ever were.
blink-182 with I Won’t Be Home For Christmas
Trust blink-182 to write a truly original song for Christmas that (in true blink fashion) makes fun of the whole holiday process.
Run D.M.C with Christmas In Hollis
Yeah, yeah you’ve probably heard this before and it might already be on your list – but I don’t hear it when I’m walking through the mall! Do you?!
Charly Bliss with All I Want For Christmas Is You
Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is easily one of the biggest songs of the season, every season. And all I’ve wanted for Christmas is a kick-ass band to give it a makeover. Thankfully, Charly Bliss has done just that. Thank you Charly Bliss.
Los Straitjackets with Here Comes Santa Claus
Remember when I told you about my friends and I playing Christmas concerts? Well we did a bunch of festive tracks from Los Straitjackets too. Except we didn’t have dancing ladies or luchadore masks. Man, were we losers or what? (Sidenote: Every year, I listen to the album ‘Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets! on repeat. It’s really good.)
Best Coast with Little Saint Nick
I’m a fan of the West Coast’s Best Coast and if anyone was going to cover this Beach Boys classic, they may as well live by the beach right?
The White Stripes with Candy Cane Children
Picture this…you’re hanging out with loved ones over the holidays. Everyone’s digging your Christmas playlist. And then this comes on…and the one person you know will complain says “What kind of Christmas song is this?”. You tell them it’s called Candy Cane Children and that they should shut up and enjoy their egg nog. ‘Nuff said.
Fucked Up with Do They Know It’s Christmas?
One of my all time favourite Canadian bands covered one of my all time favourite Christmas songs. So I can’t not share it with you! Plus it features help from Tegan & Sara, Kevin Drew, Bob Mould, GZA, David Cross and more!
Mac DeMarco with White Christmas
Finally, a new take on White Christmas. But make sure you don’t listen to this right after dinner…you might start wondering if Grandma put something in the stuffing.
Ramones with Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
I don’t want to fight! You don’t want to fight! The Ramones don’t want to fight! But like every other holiday season, fighting with the ones you love might happen. Just play this if things start to escalate.
Lemmy, Billy Gibbons & Dave Grohl (!?) with Run Rudolph Run
I didn’t know this existed until now. And I am very embarrassed about it.
The Lumineers with Blue Christmas
Blue Christmas is a great song that The Lumineers easily managed to make their own while still paying tribute to whoever originally did it.
Green Day with Xmas Time Of Year
If you ever wondered what a Green Day Christmas song could sound like, it wouldn’t be far off from this.
Fall Out Boy with Yule Shoot Your Eye Out
I missed this back in 2003, but Fall Out Boy managed to successfully put ‘EMO’ into ‘Merry Christmas…You!”
Dave Matthews with Christmas Song
I’ll probably get harassed for adding this to the list…but let me put it this way: You, your significant other and this song…you won’t even need mistletoe to get the results you both want!
Joni Mitchell with River
I think this is the only song on the list that we actually do hear in Christmas playlists and as we spend time in stores over the holidays. But I still think it’s underrated!
To you and yours this holiday season, I hope it’s as enjoyable as it can be. And maybe some of these songs will find their way into your own Christmas DJ’ing. Feel free to comment with your own ‘Alternative’ Holiday songs in the comments – Patrick Bateman