We are full into the Christmas music season. You can’t escape it with radio stations playing holiday songs 24 hours a day.
But this list is different. This is the Christmas Song list for fans of the obscure and unusual. This is for the people tired of hearing the umpteenth remake of Frosty the Snowman. This is for fans of Complete PR.
O Holy Night - Go Radio
O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and this is definitely one of my favorite covers.
Carol of the Bells -- August Burns Red
A very angsty metal cover of Carol of the Bells to melt grandma's face off.
The Killers -- Don’t Shoot Me Santa
This one is just plain fun, and it's always important to remind Santa that you'd really rather not be shot.
Fall Out Boy -- Yule Shoot Your Eye Out
Probably the first Christmas-themed alternative song I heard when I was a teenager, so this one has sentimental value to me. I bought a guitar just to learn how to play this song. I am now selling a guitar if anyone is interested in a last-minute gift.
All I want for Christmas is You -- My Chemical Romance
It’s not a pop-punk Christmas without a My Chemical Romance cover! To make myself clear, there's nothing wrong with the Mariah Carey version. But if you're wanting a little more grit in your celebration, here it is.
Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey — Lou Monte
If you've always lived below the mason Dixon line, then maybe you've never heard this song before. But if you have any Italians in your family, you've surely heard it—whether you love it or hate it. When I lived in Baltimore and my family and I would make the drive down to Greenville to see my grandparents, my mom and I would call the radio stations over and over again to request this song, and now I even have small a tattoo of Dominick on my arm
Crabs for Christmas — David DeBoy
Again, if you aren't from Maryland like me, you've probably never heard of this song and are immediately alarmed by the title. Don't worry, the only crabs David DeBoy wants for Christmas are Baltimore blue crabs. My mom absolutely hates this song. Which is one of the many reasons to have it on repeat this time of year.
All I want for Christmas is You — My Chemical Romance
For all of my fellow elder emo kids, If you love the classics but you also want to add an edgy twist. This is the song you'll play that'll have your grandma saying "There's something off about this song..."
Christmas Kinda Sucks — Peach PRC
Even though Christmas is my favorite holiday, when your parents are divorced and you're officially too "old" for gifts, sometimes Christmas kinda sucks. But even if it does, you can still jam out to a super upbeat and fun tune about it.
His Favorite Christmas Story — Capital Lights
I don't remember the first time I ever heard this song, but it's always on my Christmas song rotation now. Listen to the lyrics—the story of young love lost but not forgotten, and a happy ending courtesy of a Christmas miracle. Go ahead and get your tissues ready.
Merry Xmas Everyone -- Slade
The great thing about 70s British superstars, Slade, is that they always sounded the same. No matter what. They sounded like they had just rolled in from the bar and were recording at 3 a.m. the hazy remnants of whatever song they wrote on a cocktail napkin. Americans love that kind of sound, but Slade never got any respect in the U.S. in their prime.
It’s a shame because they may have recorded the most original, most rocking Christmas song of all time, “Merry Xmas Everyone.” Unlike most Christmas songs, which are recorded in the summertime, you get the feeling the boys from Slade looked around at family members coming in, drinking booze, singing carols, and hanging up stockings and just recorded the song on Christmas Eve.
So, here it is Merry Christmas, and everybody’s having fun.
I Believe in Father Christmas -- Greg Lake
The most depressing popular Christmas song of all time may belong to Greg Lake, of Emerson Lake and Palmer fame. That band is, of course, the answer to the classic joke, how do you spell pretentious? ELP.
His “I Believe in Father Christmas” is so bizarrely sad, but it is good. It is a downer of a song. The opening lines of “they said there would be snow for Christmas” immediately lets you know a lie is coming. Lake answers immediately yes, all it did was rain on Christmas. The song then goes on to how he wanted to believe in Christmas and how he bought into it that he actually believed. Those dreams come crashing down when he realizes the season is a farce.
However, Lake said that was not his intention. He was protesting the commercialization of the holiday and how it lost its true meaning. Maybe. The one saving grace is this diddy comes in at just under four minutes. That is short for an ELP track in the 1970s. Thankfully short.
Back Door Santa -- Clarence Carter
Two years before he recorded the sad tale of Patches, Clarence Carter was doing what he did best—writing songs with a lot of sexual innuendoes. You can only guess what he comes up with for Back Door Santa.
But that is not why I included this less-than-classic.
No, it has an amazing hook you will quickly recognize as the opening sample used in the much more famous (and not nearly as raunchy as Back Door Santa) Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis.
Happy Christmas and Many More -- Scott Weiland
As a teenager in the 1990s, the voice of Scott Weiland was almost ubiquitous as eating pop tarts. The music Stone Temple Pilots were staples of alternative rock stations, MTV, and college keg parties. As their lead singer, Weiland cut a mighty swath through the music industry as a hard-rocking man.
That is why I enjoy his 2011 Christmas album, “The Most Wonderful Time.” It was a great collection of holiday standards that was surprising to hear from Weiland. The most interesting song, though, was an original by him. Starting off with a steel drum and island guitar, Weiland creates an uplifting song about looking into the future, but there is a certain sense of melancholy as he croons about not expecting to see people for a long time.
Blink Before Christmas -- Phil Moore
Long before Cheech & Chong’s Santa Claus & His Old Lady, Phil Moore laid down this spoken rewording of “Twas the Night Before Christmas. Not going to lie, I’m not cool enough with old-school hepcat lingo to really know what is going on all the time in this song, but there is a reference to Santa bringing “Sneaky Pete” to a party, and according to the research of my friend Jerry Salley (who first tuned me into this song) that was slang for nasty homemade booze. Dig it.
Then Santa gets “salty,” and vanishes up the “smoke hole.” But he leaves the booze.
You can listen to the entire list and more on our Spotify playlist, here.