It’s finally December! So with Jesus Christ’s birthday a mere three weeks away, it’s finally socially acceptable to break out the Christmas music. Sadly, if you work in retail, there’s a very good chance that the well known chart songs among this list have already become all too familiar to you, thanks to a selection that can only go so far over 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I feel your pain. If it wasn’t for the fact that I spent the best part of a decade in the service industry, The Jackson 5’s version of “Frosty the Snowman” or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” could very well have made the list. Thanks to that stint serving the public though, there mere thought of little Michael Jackson singing the words “Oh Frosty!” or saying, “I did! I really did see mommy kissing Santa Claus!” makes me twitch with rage.
Luckily though, as well as some of the well known, justifiably popular songs here, there’s also a number of other alternative festive tunes which you may not have heard, even if you do work in a shop or supermarket. Some of them may be sweary and unsafe for work, some may be linked to the holiday season in the loosest sense possible, but I can assure you that each and every one of them is worthy of your attention over the month. A Spotify playlist of most of the music is included at the bottom of the page. So while you’re setting up your Christmas decorations, eating Christmas dinner or arguing with extended family members you don’t actually like, but are nonetheless forced to put up with every God damn year, why not use the following as your festive soundtrack? Happy Christmas, kids. Enjoy!
01. Zig and Zag – The Christmas No. 1
Everyone who grew up in the 90’s knows and most likely adores Zig and Zag. Apparently, even college students used to skip lectures near the end of the day, purely to head home and watch The Den. “The Christmas No. 1” was their first single, which (appropriately enough) reached number 1 in the Irish charts and stayed there for 5 weeks. As well as being lyrically hilarious and weird (“Toilet!”) it’s also a genuinely cracking hip-hop tune.
02. DJ Yoda – Five Minute Christmas Mini-Mix
DJ Yoda is one of the best DJ’s alive. If you ever have a chance to catch him in a live setting, for Christ sake, do it. Here he mashes up an insane number of Christmas songs in 5 minutes or so, with typical Yoda silliness and humour you’d come to expect if you’ve heard any of his albums or wonderful mixtapes.
03. John Williams – The House (from “Home Alone”)
For anyone of a certain age, Home Alone is a staple of the Christmas season. Though not hugely revered by critics or even given as high a score from the public as you’d expect, it still remains hilarious. The score by the legendary John Williams is gorgeous and instantly recognisable, with “The House” being among the finest examples.
04. Eels – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
The Eels are one of those wonderfully eclectic bands, who continue to surprise and entertain with every album they put out. This b-side is a wonderfully pop-induced rocker. And it includes the lyric, “Baby Jesus: Born to Rock!” Genius.
05. Sufjan Stevens – Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!
Sufjan Stevens may be familiar to many purely for his single “Chicago”, but that is well and truly the tip of the iceberg. Across the 10 EP’s of Christmas music he has put out, totalling 100 songs, there are far too many great ones to mention. In fact, I’ll most likely be dedicating an entire article to the magic of a Sufjan Christmas before the 25th of the month. For now though, here’s “Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” As fine an example as any of Sufjan’s gifted song writing abilities.
06. Adam Buxton – Christmas Country Party Time
Adam and Joe are a duo that had a show on Channel 4 and later a radio show on XFM and BBC Radio 6 Music. On their radio show, one regular feature was called Song Wars. Essentially, A&J would pick a theme, each write a song based on it, and let the listeners vote for the best one. Inevitably enough, they chose Christmas for the theme at one point. It’s hard to even guess who won to be honest, because both tracks are hysterical. Here’s Adam’s effort.
07. Dustin – Numb
The first of 2 Dustin songs on this list (unless you count his Zig and Zag cameo) “Numb” is a Christmas themed take on the U2 single of the same. It’s crude, it’s juvenile, and it made me laugh when I was 9 years old. Happily, 21 years later at age 30, it still cracks me up.
08. Alled Jones – Walking In the Air
The Snowman is another iconic film that has been shown on Channel 4 every Christmas for as long as I can remember. “Walking in the Air” is the most well known of the constant score for this dialogue-free film. You can’t hear it without picturing James and his Snowman flying over the world towards Lapland.
09. Kevin Bloody Wilson – Hey Santa Claus
This one is definitely not safe for work. Kevin Bloody Wilson can be fairly hit and miss to be honest, but this one is a peach. The idea of a child cursing like fuck about Saint Nick letting them down is hilarious. Maybe it’s because there are fewer things more amusing than children swearing.
10. Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Sure, it may be slightly overplayed, and you could argue the point about the 20 and 30 year editions of the song, but there’s a good reason that it keeps re-emerging every year. It’s an absolutely classic pop song, and one of the finest Christmas tunes of all time.
11. Adam Sandler – The Chanukah Song
Adam Sandler wrote “The Chanukah Song” as a way to sympathise with Jewish children feeling alienated on Christmas. It became so popular that it generated 3 updates, the most recent of which only emerged last month.
12. Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick
Another well known staple of the season, it’s pretty much classic Beach Boys…with sleigh bells. What’s not to love?
13. South Park – Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo
Another juvenile, very silly number about a piece of shit that appears to kids who eat enough fibre on Christmas eve. I still know all the words, and I’m not even sorry.
14. Bing Crosby – White Christmas
An old-time gem, “White Christmas” has stood the test of time since the 1940’s with very good reason. If this doesn’t make you need snow on Christmas, then nothing will.
15. Doris Day – Winter Wonderland
You could almost take this as the sequel to “White Christmas” in a way. If the dream of a white Christmas were to come true, this would be the soundtrack to that very dream becoming a reality.
16. John Williams – Holiday Flight (from “Home Alone”)
A classic from John Williams’ aforementioned score, you can’t help hearing this without picturing the McCallister family running like hell through the airport, minus Kevin.
17. Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
That previously mentioned
sentence period in retail almost ruined this song for me. I remember it being played 2 or 3 times an hour all through December and most of November before it. What the serious fuck was that about? Still, the song is strong enough to make me still enjoy it without wanting to punch Slade’s Noddy Holder in the face, bless him.
18. Elton John – Step Into Christmas
I have no idea how one would actually step into Christmas, but this Elton John classic sure as shit makes me want to try it!
19. Ween – Roses Are Free
Okay, so this one is stretching the rules a little bit, since it’s not really an all out Christmas song, strictly speaking. Still, “Take a piece of tinsel and put it on the tree / Cut a slab of melon and pretend that you still love me” is enough to warrant its inclusion, right?
20. Dustin – Christmas Tree
With “Christmas Tree” Dustin managed to do what “Weird Al” Yankovic has done so many times throughout his career: he took a fucking dreadful song and made it great. He took lemons and made lemonade, essentially. Sorry, I couldn’t resist…
21. Boyz II Men – Silent Night
One of two groups on this list I never thought I’d have any time for, but you can’t argue with this acapella take on “Silent Night.” If there’s a better version of this song, I haven’t heard it.
22. The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York
My mother once said that she could hear this at any time of the year and still enjoy it. It truly has something magic about it; you could even make an argument to say that it’s the best Christmas song ever written.
23. Shakin’ Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone
It’s pure cheese, but I still love it, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. God bless Shakey for this one.
24. Girls Aloud – Not Tonight Santa
The other pop band on this list that I was shocked to find myself enjoying, “Not Tonight Santa” is excellent. From the Adam Ant like drums, to the catchy-as-hell chorus, this has everything you want from a pop single.
25. Mel Smith – Another Bloomin’ Christmas
From the almost sequel or spin off to The Snowman, “Another Bloomin’ Christmas” manages to take the notion of a grumpy Santa and somehow still make him loveable, thanks largely to the wonderful performance of the late Mel Smith.
26. Joe Cornish – All Night Garage
Taking the theme of Christmas in a whole other direction, Joe’s Christmas song easily matched up to Adam’s for song writing, humour, and delightful absurdity.
27. John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Yoko Ono’s solo music is shite from what I’ve heard, but even she couldn’t ruin this, thankfully. Instantly recognisable and a pure, unadulterated classic.
28. Weezer – O Holy Night
If you already know and love Weezer, you can imagine how this one goes. Quiet verses, choruses saturated with distortion. Delightful.
29. Blink-182 – Happy Holidays, You Bastard
I’m not really sure who singer Mark Hoppus is fucked off at here, but I don’t think it really matters when Blink-182 extract this much fun in a mere 42 seconds.
30. Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You
More cheese, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is another one you can’t get away from every year. But to be honest, I don’t want to get away from it either. 21 years on, it remains a pop classic.
31. Mr Garrison – Merry Fucking Christmas
One of the many potentially offensive songs from South Park’s first musical episode, and definitely not safe for work, Merry Fucking Christmas essentially has school teacher Mr. Garrison mocking any and all non Christians believers you could possibly imagine, wrapping up each encounter with the refrain of “Merry Fucking Christmas.”
32. Run-D.M.C. – Christmas in Hollis
Run-D.M.C. doing a Christmas song is exactly as you’d expect: great beats, with added sleigh bells, Christmas related lyrics, and samples of traditional festive music thrown in.
33. Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime
It may have been released in 1979, but the keyboards on “Wonderful Christmastime” give it an 80’s feel. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying its popularity, In fact, McCartney actually earns an estimated $400,000-$600,000 per year, thanks to its enduring appeal.
34. Brenda Lee – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
At over 50 years of age, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” remains as beloved as ever. It may remind many of that scene in Home Alone, too.
35. Ben Folds Five – Brick
Okay, so here’s another song which isn’t strictly a Christmas song. In fact, Ben Folds only mentions Christmas once, but still. It paints a dark picture of a relationship ending during what should theoretically be the happiest time of the year.
36. Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
This one could go hand in hand with Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody.” In fact, it famously lost out to the UK number 1 spot to Slade in 1973.
37. Super Furry Animals – The Gift That Keeps Giving
Given away as a Christmas gift for free download by Super Furry Animals in 2007, “The Gift That Keeps Giving” is one of the highlights from SFA’s Hey Venus! album. The music video is excellent too: make sure you watch it all the way to the end.
38. “Weird Al” Yankovic – The Night Santa Went Crazy (Extra Gory Version)
What would happen if Santa decided he was being taken for granted and completely snapped? Let “Weird Al” answer that one for you.
39. The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)
The Darkness take on a Christmas song is, not surprisingly, very much a throwback to that classic rock Slade/Wizzard style holiday song. And as per The Darkness average tune, there’s also twin guitar riffs and Justin Hawkins’ falsetto vocals.
40. Blur – The Wassailing Song
This traditional English Carol was given away by Blur at a gig in 1992, and remains the single rarest release from the band. The song itself is great fun, with the booming drums and accordion driving the tune along throughout each verse and chorus. It also remains the only Blur track on which all four members take lead vocals.
41. Country Mike – Country Christmas
Back in 1999, for no apparent reason other than presumably for their own amusement, Beastie Boys recorded a country album, claiming that band member Mike D had been hit over the hit with “a large foreign object,” subsequently believing he was a country singer named Country Mike. It was never officially released, but given to friends and family as a Christmas present. As you can imagine, it’s very silly, and a hell of a lot of fun, particularly “Sloppy Drunks,” “Country Delight” (a country version of “Rappers Delight“) and this little ditty about how Country Mike likes to spend his Christmas.
42. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time Is Here
At 50 years old, there’s no denying the appeal of A Charlie Brown Christmas and its gorgeous soundtrack, one major peak of which is “Christmas Time Is Here.”
43. Badly Drawn Boy – Donna and Blitzen
About a Boy wasn’t exactly a mind blowing movie, but Badly Drawn Boy delivered his brand of greatness in spades, particularly on the beautiful album closer “Donna and Blitzen.”
44. Rage Against the Machine – Killing In the Name
Remember when a campaign was started to get Rage Against the Machine to No.1 ahead of the X Factor? It seemed an impossible task, but the page gathered momentum, ended up getting over 1 million likes, and even had the support of the band themselves, who promised to play a gig in the UK for free if they got the number one spot for Christmas. Campaign starters Jon and Tracy Morter even encouraged people to donate to Shelter, a homeless charity in the UK. Miraculously, not only did the song get to number 1, breaking a Guinness world record in the process, it also resulted in £160,000 worth of donations to Shelter between the band graciously giving their profits and the cash raised by downloaders donating to the charity as well. Rage also made good on their promise, delivering a blistering performance at Finsbury Park in the UK the following summer.
45. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
The Waitresses may be one of the overlooked groups of the new wave era, which is a great shame. They brought us the sexiness of “I Know What Boys Like,” and of course, this wordy gem from 1981.
46. The Lonely Island – Dick In a Box
The Lonely Island gave us a Christmas song with their first single, the music video of which became one of many viral hits from the dudes. It even spawned 2 sequels from the characters portrayed by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, in the form of “Motherlover” and 3-Way (The Golden Rule).
47. Wham! – Last Christmas
This song used to genuinely confuse me as a child. “Why does he do this to himself every single Christmas?” I thought. It’s also another seasonal hit that even working in retail couldn’t destroy. And Wham! didn’t even make a penny from it at the time, since they decided to donate their royalties to Band Aid’s Ethiopian Famine appeal. What a great bunch of lads.
48. The Muppets – One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas
From one of the most revered adaptations of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, Kermit the Frog’s ballad about the joy and excitement the day before Christmas is the perfect track to get you in the mood for the 25th of December.