Your alternative Christmas playlist
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It’s finally Christmas! After months of premature Christmas cheer, the excitement is justified.
With the same rotated list of ‘Christmas songs’ floating around everywhere, one more airing of ‘Last Christmas’ is likely to send a few people into a downward spiral of madness! If you were to believe the supermarkets and that idiot next door who thinks Christmas starts on 15th November and there is a total of 20 Christmas songs that need to be played, full-blast, over and over again….
Fortunately, the history of popular music as a bounty of Christmas aural treasures to mine each year, so we’ve collated just some of them into a handy playlist.
Stick on our ‘alternative’ Christmas list and drown out the repetition. The full Spotify playlist is below, but first here are 20 select tunes showing some, but not all, of what it has to offer:
Low – Just Like Christmas
Since it’s release in 1999 Christmas the EP from slowcore legends has become an indie Christmas staple (as have their subsequent festive releases since). On their covers of classics like ‘Silent Night’ Low really capture the festive spirit in it’s loveliness, but it is ‘Just Like Christmas’ that has become a holiday must.
Carla Thomas – Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas
Soul is one of the most lucrative genres to mine for Christmas gems, but few have the joy of Carla Thomas’ innocent and fun classic. The effortless, soulful vocals dance with the lush arrangements that makes an upbeat tune that is still festive.
The Wombats – Is This Christmas?
There’s literally an avalanche of noughties indie Christmas tunes, but this Wombats track captures the raucous energy of that period best. Is This Christmas? I think so…
The Pilgrim Travellers – I’ll Be Home For Christmas
There’s something innocent and magical about Christmas culture from the first half of the 20th Century and this tune from 1952 by gospel group The Pilgrim Travellers is no except.
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto
Just because they are gangstas doesn’t mean they are on the naughty list. Christmas gets a G-funk makeover courtesy of the Death Row records.
The Moonglows – Hey Santa Claus
Released in 1953 this rockin’ rarity predates the rock n roll boom. With it’s driving backbeat and doo-wop vocals it has stood the test time as one of the greatest festive records ever released. If you don’t like it, I am pretty sure you have no festive spirit at all.
The Sonics – Don’t Believe In Christmas
The Sonics did everything differently, even Christmas! The perfect anti-Christmas, garage-rock stomper from possibly the best rock n roll band of the 60s. One of the few records to refer to Santa as ‘fat boy’.
Binky Griptite – Stone Soul Christmas
This record sounds like a forgotten 70s funk classic uncovered but was actually released in 2006. A long time member of the Dap-Kings, Griptite knows exactly what classic funk needs to sound like and the results are incredible.
Psychostick – Holiday Hate
So far this list is all a bit lovely. But what about those people who have festive RAGE? Well metal-clowns Psychostick have the perfect antidote to festive cheer. Revel in some holiday HATE.
Ron Sexsmith – Maybe This Christmas
Right! Back the lovely festival vibes. Most people first heard this on questionable teen melodrama The OC – but this is definitely a modern Christmas classic. It’s simple wonderful.
Bright Eyes – Blue Christmas
Originally recorded by Ernest Tubb in 1950, made famous by Elvis and then recorded by numerous other artists over the years including The Beach Boys ‘Blue Christmas’ is a brilliant ode to Christmas heartbreak. The fragility of Conor Oberst’s vocals on this cover give it an even more melancholy edge.
Lee Scratch Perry – Merry Christmas, Happy New Year
In some countries Christmas happens in the sunshine! This playlist needed that representing and who better than Mr Perry to bring the sunshine vibes. His 1986 reggae love-ballad has a soul that only the legendary producer can bring.
!!! – And Anyway It’s Christmas
!!! (chk chk chk) never fail to bring the party, so they are needed for Christmas! This synth-funk track from 2013 has 80s house vibes blended into their usual funky sound.
Shonen Knife – Space Christmas
Japanese cult punk legends Shonen Knife doing a surf-punk Christmas tune – oh go on then!
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time Is Here
Taken from the legendary 1965 TV special ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ this song has been covered so many times, but this is the instrumental version of the original. It just sounds like Christmas.
Soul Saints Orchestra – Santa’s Got A Bag Of Soul
A solid 70s rare groove that seriously borrows off the funkfather James Brown. I mean what else would Santa have in his sack? We all need the gift of funky soul this year. Here it is.
Eels – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
Originally a B-side to ‘Cancer For The Cure’ from Eels game-changing album Electro-Shock Blues this is a perfect example of front-man E’s ability to drag optimism out of the dark and produce uplifting tunes. This is a big rock tune.
The Staple Singers – Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas
Currently being used to get you to part with cash you don’t have in House of Fraser, this 70s classic from The Staple Singers is a massive gospel/soul banger that needs to be played loud and often. Play it and be uplifted.
Wolf Alice – Santa Baby
You probably thought we didn’t need another version of ‘Santa Baby’, right? That was before Wolf Alice (arguably one of the best rock bands in the UK right now) had a pop at it for Spotify’s ‘Christmas Singles’. It’s shimmering and wonderful and worthy of being yet another version of a classic.
Fetty Wap – Merry Xmas
It’s not just old school hip hop getting in on the Christmas act, but the trap beats are flowing over Fetty Wap’s ‘Merry Xmas’. Banger!
This is by no means comprehensive and there is so much more Christmas music to explain. Start your Christmas music adventure with the below playlist:
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