December has descended upon us like a frightening shadow from Mordor. It seems like only days ago it was September, and now there are fairy lights under every eave, trees in every corner, and Christmas carols streaming from every store and workplace.
Everywhere you go your ears are assailed by tinny renditions of Jingle Bells and oh-so-funky tunes like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” If you have even a single musical bone in your body, it is feeling great pain this month.
And if you’re unfortunate enough to work in retail or in any office that requires carols playing 24/7, I don’t know how you do it. Really, you are a hero.
But take heart, for there are Christmas songs out there that aren’t rage-inducing. Here are some that I like. You can watch the videos below, or get the playlist on Spotify.
1. Wonderful Christmastime – The Shins
The Shins cover a Paul McCartney classic with all their typical indie bravado. I like how they’ve kept the Beatles’ style vocal harmonies and just allowed those to be the focus of this cover.
2. Christmas in Hollis – Run-DMC
"It's Christmas time in Hollis, Queens / Mom's cookin' chicken and collard greens." And I thought there were no decent hip hop Christmas tunes. Shame on me.
3. The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
The Raveonettes are a seriously underrated band. This song is probably their most well-known, simply because it shows up on “Christmas songs you’ll actually like” lists year after year.
4. Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne – Jimi Hendrix
Let Jimi’s guitar take you to a Silent Night you’ve never before dreamed of. If you love guitar, this is the ONLY Christmas song you need.
5. Home for Christmas – Kate Bush
Famous for topping the UK charts at just 19 years of age with the song “Wuthering Heights” in 1978, Kate Bush brings us a sweet Christmas song. She has a truly unique voice, which spans a full six octaves.
6. Winter Song – Rob Halford
As vocalist from infamous metal group Judas Priest, Rob Halford is famous for his unforgettable vocal range and impressive scream. In 2009 he released a solo album of Christmas songs, including this little ditty.
7. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
The Pogue’s most famous ballad tells the story of an Irish immigrant sleeping off the drink in a jail cell on Christmas eve. He dreams about his old love, and the couple have a conversation about their youthful hopes crushed by the weight of the world.
In the UK “Fairytale of New York” is the most-played Christmas song in the 21st Century and is widely considered to be the best Christmas song of all time.
8. Jingle Bells, Batman Smells – Phil Snyder
Who else remembers this from their childhood? Phil Snyder has created some humorous verses to go with the familiar chorus.
9. Red Water (Christmas Mourning) – Type O Negative
In a typically Type O gloomy dirge from one of their best albums, October Rust. Pete Steele’s haunting voice describes with his typical deadpan humour "My table's been set for but seven/Just last year I dined with eleven."
10. Happy Xmas (war is over) The Polyphonic Spree
A poignant song and message to remember at this time of year. This cover of the John Lennon classic is sung beautifully by the happy robe-wearing masses of the Polyphone Spree.
Stay tuned, because we’re got Part 2 of our gag-free Christmas song list coming soon!