Top Ten Unusual Christmas Songs Part 2
Following up from the first half of my Unusual Christmas Songs list yesterday, here we get even further into some of the stranger selections that I came across in my journey from Arizona to the frozen winter wonderland of misfit Christmas songs.
Bobby Pickett – Monster’s Holiday
Mostly known for his ultimate Halloween classic “Monster Mash”, Bobby Pickett is a staple of iconic holiday themed music. I absolutely love that song and of course we all hear it year after year as leaves turn from green to red as they slowly shed in October. What I wasn’t aware of until very recently was that he had a follow up hit to this marvelous masterpiece – Monster’s Holiday, one of the most amazing of the Christmas songs selection. This is essentially the same song, just tinkered and twisted to fit the snowier of the two holidays. Both came out in 1962 and even though most major record labels at the time wanted nothing to do with it, the Monster Mash forever changed Halloween, and Monster’s Holiday is just as fantastic, if perhaps a bit lesser known.
Ludacris – Ludacrismas
Found in the 2007 movie Fred Claus, with Vince Vaughn and Luda himself, this track is conspicuously absent from the officially released soundtrack. Perhaps this was just an oversight, perhaps there were already too many great tracks on that album. Either way, whether you respect him more as a hip hop star, or as an actor, you really have to appreciate the sheer awesomeness of his wordplay with “Ludacrismas”.
“Yeah, I tell em all I want for Christmas is two gold front teeth
and ten carat diamonds on a fat gold wreath
that i could wear around my neck
get money and respect
Tell Santa Claus to bring a ten million dollar check”
The Ravers – Punk Rock Christmas
While commonly attributed as a Sex Pistols track, perhaps because the Pistols are referenced in the lyrics, this is actually done by an American group known as The Ravers. The song was released in 1977 and was part of a 12” double disc set which contained their version of Silent Night as well. The Ravers consisted of Lou Maxfield, Graham Daddy, David Brooks Dennard and Mike Campbell. Lou Maxfield, who previously was in a duo known as Daddy Maxfield, went on to later work with Joan Jett and Ray Manzarek.
The Pogues – Fairytale of New York
This folky ballad was done by The Pogues, with a little assistance on vocals from Kirsty MacColl, who had appearances on other artist’s work such as Robert Plant, The Smiths, Simple Minds, Talking Heads and Big Country. The Pogues frontman Joe Strummer had found other success previously being in a somewhat known band named The Clash. While the band went through quite a number of members, they did see a bit of success with the “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” album that this track was featured on, which was very well received in their native Ireland. There was an interesting decision made by the BBC in 2007, where they decided to censor certain words from the song when they aired it on the radio that holiday season, even though the song had been played for the better part of the previous two decades uncensored. This censorship was quickly reversed, and those responsible have been sacked.
Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah McLachlan – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Doing their unique spin on a classic holiday hymn, the Barenaked Ladies take a serious approach and turn this tune out to be quite a wonderful listen. With Sarah McLachlan lending her voice to the song, it might be enough to bring a tear to one’s eye – and thankfully this time it won’t be on account of poor, mistreated animals. Found on the Barenaked for the Holidays album, this was a fairly well received album. It also was available on a 128MB flash drive, a new marketing technique at the time that would later on become more popular.
Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band – Christmas at KMart
While a lot of the tracks on this list are actually pretty good, sometimes it’s nice to give a little contrast. Like the sun breaking the winter’s cold at dawn, or perhaps more like falling through a thin sheet of frozen ice, we will use this track to break the continuity of the peaceful and honest holiday songs with a real…treat. I know that myself, as a young kid in nowhereland USA, K-Mart had all the things that I wanted the most for Christmas. All of those tantalizing toys prettily packaged in their pristine packages just waiting for me to open and play with. This song can capture all of my Xmas dreams in a way that only a guy from North Carolina could express.
Sheryl Crow – Blue Christmas
Sheryl Crow added her name to the list of outstanding artists who have done this song, lining up behind Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Patti LaBelle, Bruce Springsteen and a number of contemporary orchestras. Her version was found on an album originally only found in Hallmark stores, but was later re-released to a wider audience on her Home For Christmas album, which peaked at the number 4 position on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart.
Snoop Dogg – Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto
Gonna hit the reverse on the 1s and 2s and bust out this classic west coast sound. The second song featuring Santa visiting the ghetto is done by Snoop Dogg, and has all the makings of a bangin’ 90s rap track. Backed by Nate Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Bad Azz and Tray Dee this song shined brightly on the Christmas On Death Row compilation released from Death Row records. The compilation was put out to raise money for charity, and features samples from Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing”.
The Kinks – Father Christmas
This is a heartwarming tale of a journey to visit Father Christmas, which is how the UK refers to Santa Claus, or at least the appearance of a Santa at a department store. While most kids nicely tell Santa they want a firetruck, or a doll, or maybe a Red Rider BB Gun, The Kinks just want money. Toys are of no importance, they just want that sweet, sweet cash! This is an interesting example of a song where violence may be directed towards Santa, and could be interpreted as a social commentary on the fairness of Christmas between various social classes. The amount of bands that have covered this song just goes to show how influential The Kinks were in the late 60s/early 70s punk rock scene.
Korn – Kidnap the Sandy Claws
From one of the most loved non-Christmas Christmas movies – The Nightmare Before Christmas – here we have Korn’s version of one of the main tracks. Whether you like Korn, or only like their “early” albums, you have to agree that there really isn’t much of a better band that could be putting their touch to this song. Jonathan’s creepy high pitched voices bouncing the lyrics around while the click of the bass slaps a constant rhythm, it fits the film perfectly.
Mark Hoppus and Ben Folds – Happy Holidays, You Bastard
Mark Hoppus of the infamous Blink 182 is here doing a very merry holiday song that he wrote. Entitled Happy Holidays, You Bastard, the original song is in the standard Blink fast paced pop-punk style, but here we slow it down to make it a bit more appropriate for the true holiday spirit. With the always talented Ben Folds providing his piano playing to present a portrait of a happy song while Mark talks about his feelings for an ex in only the happiest of ways. And by that I mean this is a true punk song through and through.
The Ying Yang Twins – Deck Da Club
I’m undecided on which I like more, Ludacrismas or this bangin’ joint. Found on a 4 song Christmas songs collection the Twins released, “The Ying and The Yang of the Holidays”, Amazon users rated this track as their favorite, far outpacing the other wonderful takes on holiday classics such as “Carol of Da Bellz” and “Sleigh Ride”. Tip back dat nog, blaze that blunt and get crunk to this track, son.
Christopher Lee – Little Drummer Boy
If you haven’t heard, Christopher Lee, the actor known from his outstanding roles in The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Star Wars prequels and many more outstanding films, has dabbled a bit in the metal realms. Being a classically trained vocalist, he has spent more than one occasion lending his vocals to a band, and to celebrate his 90th birthday he did something that no other nonagenarian to my knowledge ever has – release a complete metal album. This was titled Charlemange: By the Sword and the Cross, which went on to win the “Spirit of Metal” award from Metal Hammer, and was presented to him by none-other than Tony Iommi. He also did a full production of songs on his “A Heavy Metal Christmas” compilation. Enjoy!
Henry Rollins – Twas the Night Before Christmas
While this isn’t exactly a “song” as the rest of our “songs” were “songs”, this absolutely had to make the list. With this classic poem that we are all familiar with, Henry Rollins, the very outspoken punk rocker from Black Flag fame does a phenomenal performance with this track. This is a must hear for any lover of punk rock, metal, antidisestablishmentarialist or war movie enthusiast. Taking a twist from the original intentions that this song was written on, we hear something more like a war tale of St. Nick visiting a forsaken land full of gunshots, bombs and violence.
NOFX – Xmas Has Been X’ed
The final song off their Self Entitled 2012 release, this song gives a proper nightcap to an album that is not really about Christmas at all. It was subsequently released on a 3 song holiday EP with “New Year’s Revolution” and “Wore Out The Soles of My Party Boots”. As such, I feel it is a fitting choice to wrap up our Christmas Songs Compendium.
“No more egg hunts, no Sunday mass
Fridays are fair, Wednesdays don’t ash
They canceled lent and slowed down fast
Enjoy Christmas cuz it’s your last
Corey Taylor – X-M@S
Corey Taylor, the iconic frontman for Slipknot, recorded this song on his own for The Teenage Cancer Trust. It seems like quite an interesting song for a charity, especially considering that it seems this track is more anti-Christmas than anything. But, believe it or not, Corey does actually quite enjoy Christmas, but just has a little frustration from years of being on tour and not being able to see his family. The song is more for poking fun at people who don’t believe in Christmas. I happen to find the song hilarious myself! Here’s a little bit of behind the scenes and the making of the song.