For most people, the only Christmas song worth listening to is The Pogues’ breathtaking ‘Fairy of New York. So if Shakin’ Stevens’ ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ fills you with dread, or Noddy Holder’s ear-piercing scream of “It’s Chriiiiissssstmaaaaassss” makes you want to punch someone’s face off, then fear ye not. Why waste your precious holidays listening to the same old Christmas songs, year in, year out, when you can listen to the top ten alternative Christmas anthems instead?
10. Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).
You can’t go far wrong with a three-chord wonder from Joey Ramone: it’s simple and catchy, and only sounds Christmassy because of the inclusion of ringing bells. This is easily one of the best festive punk-rock-pop songs that you are ever likely to hear.
9. Snoop Dogg – Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto.
Who said that gangstas can’t enjoy Christmas too? Snoop Dogg’s take on the festive season includes an album cover depicted Santa Claus strapped to an electric chair and lines like “Now on the first day of Christmas, my homeboy gave to me / A sack of the krazy glue and told me to smoke it up slowly / Now on the second day of Christmas, my homeboy gave to me / A fifth of Hendog and told me to take my mind off that weed”.
8. Smashing Pumpkins – Christmas Time.
Billy Corgan is probably not the first person you’d think of as a bringer of Christmas cheer, but in ‘Christmas Time’ we see Corgan’s subtle vocals singing over jingling bells and heart-warming strings. It just manages to hold back from your usual sickly sweet sentimental Christmas fare, as it retains the sense of aching and longing that pervades much of the Pumpkins’ work
7. Barenaked Ladies – Green Christmas.
The quirky Canadian indie-popsters throw their hat into the ring with an off-the-wall Christmas anthem filled with envy and resentment, with lines about being jealous of other people having fun, other people having better presents and other people having someone to share a kiss with under the mistletoe.
6. Eazy-E – Muthaphukkin’ Christmas.
Christmas and profanity only tend to go together after a well-needed Christmas row, but the late Eazy-E made short work of turning ‘Jingle Bells’ into something pornographic. With lines like “So ring them bells, ring them bells / She’s takin' it all the way / Oh what fun it is to watch her suck my dick this way” - a charming and wholesome message, but I wouldn’t recommend it for play over Christmas dinner.
5. The Raveonettes – The Christmas Song.
The nostalgic tones of The Raveonettes’ echoic 1950s-tinged sound filters down into their appropriately titled ‘The Christmas Song’ provide the perfect soundtrack to a sleepy Christmas afternoon slumped on a sofa after stuffing your face with too much Turkey and far too many Miniature Heroes.
4. Arcade Fire – Jinglebell Rock.
A cover of Bobby Helms’ 1957 classic, this version is quite the raucous affair: drunken vocals that occasionally drift into incomprehensible jibber-jabber; pianos that wouldn’t sound out of place in a primary school’s nativity play; and a glockenspiel that crashes and clanks with only the slightest regard for the integrity of Helms’ original.
3. Matt Stone and Trey Parker – Christmas Time in Hell
One of South Park’s finest songs, Christmas Time in Hell is easily the funniest and darkest Christmas song ever – after all, Satan can enjoy Christmas too!
2. Yellowman – We Wish You a Reggae Christmas
The classic Christmas song given a reggae twist: imagine what would happen if you gave ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ a reggae backing track and replaced the word “merry” with “reggae”. Well that’s exactly what Yellowman did, and it injects the stale festive tune with a well-needed shot of fun and charm.
1. Sufjan Stevens – Come on Let’s Do the Elf Dance!
This might be the greatest alternative Christmas song ever: it’s poetic, nostalgic, and the tune is fantastic – what more could anyone ask for?
Happy Christmas everyone!
This article was published by AMP and Leeds Music Scene.