That time of year is almost upon us once again. We’ve seen the Coca Cola advert. We’ve marvelled at John Lewis’ Christmas campaign. We’ve heard ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ fifty thousand times, and we’ve been freezing our butts off in anticipation of Saint Nick’s imminent arrival. So, for you guys and girls that will be drinking Jagermeister over eggnog this year, here’s an alternative Christmas playlist to get you in to the festive mood without feeling like a sell-out.
The Alternative Christmas Playlist
‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’ – Charlie Simpson
He’s come a long way since he made his debut as the front-man of the infamous ‘Busted’ back in 2005. He’s since proved his credentials as a rocker with Fightstar, and as a songwriter with his debut solo album ‘Young Pilgrim’. He’s an incredibly talented man, whatever you may think of him, and his ambitious take on the classic Christmas song ‘Santa Clause is coming to Town’ only certifies that fact. It’s a slowed-down, more melancholy take on the song that is befitting of his current musical style, and is a beautiful song in its own right.
‘Ho Ho Hopefully’ – The Maine
American pop-punk quintet The Maine originally released ‘Ho Ho Hopefully’ some years ago now, accompanied by a low-budget video featuring members of the band Brighten ironing trousers (that’s literally all there is to it). But come 2010 and The Maine re-recorded it, with extra bells and whistles, and released it as part of Fearless records’ Christmas compilation album ‘Tis the Season to be Fearless’, on which it was the standout track. Original and entertaining, there aren’t many Christmas songs that work better.
‘Merry Christmas (Wherever You Are)’ – Lower than Atlantis
Even the most alternative of Christmas songs will slow down the pace. They all seem to have that same sound, mixing in Christmas bells and trying to sound as festival as possible. But Lower than Atlantis have proven that a Christmas song can still rock with ‘Merry Christmas (Wherever You Are)’. It manages to be equal parts festive and punchy, and it’s also a track that you’ll be happy to listen to out-of-season. Also, it’s got a hilarious video involving a drunken Santa that I’d highly recommend.
‘Yule Shoot Out Your Eye’ – Fall Out Boy
Definitely not the straightforward of Christmas songs, but then again with Fall Out Boy nothing is ever straightforward. Inexplicable pun title? Check. Bat-shit-crazy lyrics? Check. Catchy chorus? Double-check. Say what you will about Fall Out Boy, but they undeniably know how to write an infectious song, and this festive offering is no different.
‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day’ – Natives
Last year the New Forest quintet released a modern cover of Wizzard’s classic (often annoying) Christmas anthem, accompanied by a music video of what is presumably the band members’ personal family footage, showing them as children during the festive periods. Similar to the original version, Natives’ cover is upbeat, feel-good festive fun at its very best with chimes, bells and a pop-punk gloss that will leave you tingling as we draw nearer to the big day’s arrival.
‘Happy Holidays, You Bastard’ – Blink-182
Okay, so it’s not technically a Christmas song, but it’s still making my list for referencing ‘Christmas Eve’. Released on the album ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’, ‘Happy Holidays’ is somewhat out of place among the rest of the songs of the album. For one, it’s only a minute long. It’s also a complete joke of a song, completely unserious, and would have served better as a bonus track than as the fourth song on the record. However, it does make you chuckle in a way that only Blink’s juvenile humour can do.
‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)’ – The Darkness
Of course The Darkness were going to make the list. They market themselves almost as a joke-band, and this often serves to hide the fact that, actually, they’re pretty damn good. ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ was huge for a reason. It was a throwback to traditional rock and roll values, and their unique spin on a Christmas song doesn’t disappoint. This is the contemporary alternative Christmas song, even all these years after its release – alternative festivity for the masses, and it’s bloody great.
‘Fairytale of New York’ – The Pogues ft. Kirsty McCall
I’m not sure this can really be called ‘alternative’ anymore, since it’s a mainstay of almost every in-store Christmas playlist from November onwards, but it makes this list because it’s a fantastic Christmas track. The original ‘alternative’ Christmas anthem, and one of the best Christmas songs outright, ‘Fairytale of New York’ is a modern classic.