Top Ten Unusual Christmas Songs You Haven’t Heard
December 18, 2013
It certainly is that holiday time of year, and looking back on all the seasons past, it’s usually Christmas songs that makes the sugar plum fairies all dance in our heads. There are the standard holiday cheers, the carols, and the sing-a-longs that we have known for our whole lives. But then it struck me, what about some new songs? What are some unconventional Xmas tracks that I might want to have kicking around to throw on at add hours of our parties? Well, I spent some time, I made a list, checked it twice, and here’s 25 songs that I’ve collected, some definitely naughty, and a few are nice.
The Vandals – Oi To The World
Off of the 1996 release of the same name, this song is a great, upbeat punk track from a band that has been considered to be one of the most influential in the emerging 90s punk scene. While this song has been panned by a lot of professional music critics, I happen to quite enjoy this track for its great message of togetherness while still enforcing the punk love of scrapping in the streets, all set to a catchy vibe, complemented with a great bell arrangement to give it that real Christmas flavor. As a bonus, since I love cover songs, No Doubt released a great version of this track as well, providing their own ska touch.
Halford – We Three Kings
After Judas Priest, Rob Halford went on to explore his own musical endeavors with the band appropriately named…Halford. This track was found on the 2009 release entitled “Halford III: Winter Songs”. “We Three Kings” was originally penned in the mid-1800s, and has long been a staple of the holiday season. This track takes the mild-mannered tune of the kings from the orient and injects it with pounding double kick drums and, as would be expected, astounding thrashing guitars tearing up breaks between each verse.
Tom Waits – Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis
From 1978 we get this heartwarming song of a hooker reminiscing of one of her beloved johns. While a lot of holiday songs tend to have a happy vibe to them, I think a lot of us can understand the heartache that ebbs from Tom’s voice in this track. Those cold winter nights when you just look out into the darkness that seems to pervade the entire day, and the air is full of the inviting smell of burning logs, but you know that all the fire in the world can’t thaw your cold heart. Pouring these feelings out across the keys of an old piano, the croon of his gravely voice makes this song an enchanting trip.
Lemmy, Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl – Run, Rudolph, Run!
Originally popularized in ’58 by Chuck Berry, making its way to #69 on the Billboard Top 100 charts, this song has been covered more times than I can even count. However, perhaps one of my favorite versions is this great jam set involving Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. Out of all the tracks on this list, this is the one I could see most people grooving and cutting a rug to.
Alice Cooper – Santa Claws Is Coming To Town
From way back in 1934 we find the original version of this song, which was subsequently popularized by Perry Como in the 50s. Leave it to Alice Cooper to take this track and completely twist it, with his trademark sneer turning Santa’s visit into a horror, as opposed to the traditional joy that we would get from the jolly old man. I didn’t make this video, but I think that the choice of putting clips from the super-cheesy horror movie Santa’s Slay together is just fantastic.
Run-DMC – Christmas in Hollis
Found on the soundtrack of arguably one of the best Christmas movies, “Die Hard”, this track from the iconic group gives a great backbeat to the holiday vibe. Produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, the song speaks of all that is classy in a New York burrough, including of course, chicken and collared greens. This definitely made the playlist because you gotta have those funky vibes while you’re downing some nog.
Amon Amarth – Viking Christmas
Now it’s time to bring the playlist back up to speed with some fury from the Swedish melodic death metal band Amon Amarth. Living in a climate not to dissimilar from the north pole, we can expect this group to have some insight and a unique take on their views of Christmas.
“When it’s Christmas, Viking Christmas, I have tears in my eyes
When I remember my childhood days and all those Christmas Eves
A sparkling tree, marveling eyes and all those presents,
I can still smell the roast and ginger bread
Nobody can escape the magic of Christmas
Raw meat and wild berries, goat milk and sticky mead
Are the viking’s culinary desires
But when Christmas is drawing near
We switch to a very different diet”
James Brown – Santa Claus, Go Straight To The Ghetto
This original track makes Christmas cool in only the way James Brown can. With the expected accompaniment of a smooth horn section, James pleads with Santa to be nice to all the soul brothas and sistas in the ghetto, visiting them first. This song, coming out in 1968, added to the interesting and pivotal year that James Brown had. While riots literally ignited 89 cities across America in outrage at the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Brown was called upon to extinguish the flames. And that he did, with a televised performance at the Boston Garden. And maybe it was Brown who saved Boston from going up in flames as well!
The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)
Off their 11th album “Brain Drain”, this track which was originally a B-Side takes us in-between a couple who have two different plans for what was going to happen on Christmas night. As expected, this is a short sentimental track from the group that fits their mold to a T, but it does have all the makings of a great Christmas song, full of sugar-plum fairies and our favorite reindeer.
The Minus 5 – Your Christmas Whisky
With the clever juxtaposition of saying Christmas is the warmest time of year, Scott McCaughey sings in a very happy tone to the strumming of R.E.M. guitarrist Peter Buck’s riffs. The happy song bounces back and forth as you bob your head to the very poppy songwriting and very Beatles-esque vocal harmonies, making you feel just a little bit lighter, and gives you that nice, warm fuzzy feeling after getting your first few sips of whisky into your well-fed, holiday food filled belly.