It is after Thanksgiving, so I can officially say that tis the season for some dope-ass collections of Christmas songs!
Whether you live and die by the Spotify playlist or still make cds or tapes, everyone loves a good collection of holiday tunes. Now I know that when I say “everybody”, I don’t mean EVERYBODY, but there’s only so much I can do. I love Christmas music, and I love that the station that normally plays lite adult contemporary has been playing songs for the season since the beginning of November. But, this station has a problem because it seems like they only play the same 50 or so songs.
Variety is the spice of life. And there are different types of great songs for different types of holiday playlists. Here are some of my favorites in case you’re looking for jams to fill out your latest mix.
For Those Looking For A Rap Song That ISN’T “Christmas In Hollis”
Look, Run-D.M.C. are the kings and “Christmas In Hollis” is an absolute seasonal banger. But there are more to enjoy. A new favorite that I discovered this year is the amazing “Ludacrismas”.
I’ve never seen the movie Fred Claus, but I can fucking guarantee right here and now that this song on the soundtrack is the best part of the movie. This song is one of those great ones where Luda just made a song that sounds like a lot of the other songs in his catalog; this one just happened to be about Christmas. This song is fun and funny and a great toe-tapper. We may have lost F9 to next year due to the stupid COVID, but we can keep Ludacris in our hearts all year round.
For Those Looking To Funk Up The Holiday Party
We all want to be the annoying DJ when our friends/family/coworkers have their annual holiday party… Now you can be the one who people are actually enjoying with some fun holiday bangers!
Start the night off rocking with Los Straitjackets!’s cover of “Here Comes Santa Claus”. This group of luchador mask-wearing dudes who play surf-guitar released an insanely fun album a few years back called Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets!, and they were not fucking around. Their cover of “Here Comes Santa Claus” has guitar licks that would make Dick Dale take notice and crazy drum fills for days. It’s the great way to welcome people in.
As the night kicks on, make things a little more funky and pull out “Soulful Christmas” by the man who knows a whole lot about soul. James Brown is at his James Brown-iest knocking out grunts and belting the high notes all while wishing you a Merry Christmas and thanking you for coming out and supporting him. Fat horns and tight drums back up the Godfather, and are gonna get some toes tapping.
As the night keeps going and more drinks get consumed, why not try something a little friskier? “Back Door Santa” has all the great horns and bass lines of a classic R&B holiday jam, but Clarence Carter is not concerned about bringing tidings of comfort and joy, unless you’re a sweet lady. Then he’s sneaking round the back and he’s coming to visit every day.
For Those Looking For A Drinking Song
Are you the kind of person who likes a little more rum in your egg nog than most? Enjoy having a few cold (or not-so-cold) ones while playing some records? There are some great Christmas drinking songs!
No one says drinking more than Dropkick Murphys, and “The Season’s Upon Us” reminds us that we may love our families, but we don’t always like them. If this song doesn’t have you swaying back and forth after a few shots of Jameson, then I don’t know what I can do for you.
Nothing is better than a nice love song, and while that’s not exactly what “Fairytale Of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty MacCool is, it’s a great song to just let you head fall back and sing along to. Any song that starts with, “It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank” is going to be filled with some lush storytelling about some storied lushes. Crack open another Guiness and enjoy.
For Those Looking For Holiday Smooches
Not much else to say. If you’ve got your special someone underneath the mistletoe and Otis Redding is playing and you’re not making out, it wasn’t meant to be.
For Those Looking For A Good Christmas Cry
Look, the holidays aren’t always happy. Or easy. And if you need to spend an hour in the tub having a good cry because this year hasn’t gone the way you want it to, no one is going to hold it against you, especially this year. So, at least let’s get the soundtrack right.
Frightened Rabbit’s “It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop” fucking annihilates my heartstrings, as Scott Hutchison is pleading with himself to take one day from letting this shitty world overwhelm you to enjoy the holidays. Using the holiday as a respite, Hutchison knows that, “The next day life went back to its bad self,” which does not bode well for Boxing Day.
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is best known as an uptempo jam that always gets us in the mood while we listen to this while waiting for our love to come home. However, Ben Gibbard and the boys from Death Cab for Cutie know how to bring this song to the sad dirge it deserves to be. With minimal instrumentation and Gibbard’s voice being a plea more than melody, they turn this song from a romp into a true plea for someone to, please, come home.
For Those Looking For Weirder Songs
Worried that your holiday mix doesn’t have enough songs about robots, aliens, and squids? Worry no longer, friends!
“Chiron Beta Prime” from the delightfully weird Jonathan Coulton gives us Christmas wishes from a family forced to work in a mine by cruel robot overlords (“Did I say overlords? I mean protectors,” Coulton explains). It’s still cheery and poppy even as the family eats a Christmas pie made of soylent green.
Why would any child want a basketball or bike under their tree when they could have an alien? Fountains Of Wayne absolutely nails this tune, and it’s a wonderful pop gem to remember Adam Schlesinger, who passed away this year, by.
Sure, it’s easy for Santa to bring presents to you and me; we live on land? But how do the wonderful boys and girls of Atlantis get their presents? As Jason Morris lets us know, from Twangles, the magical Christmas Squid!
One more robot jam, but unlike “Chiron Beta Prime”, Blazer Force’s funky, weird and wonderful “Electronic Santa” only has one programmed mission: to rock your body and crash your party.
I’ll return later with my favorite holiday rock songs. But, for now, I hope these tracks help you flesh out your mixes!