It’s that time of year again where the same old Christmas songs get played on what seems like infinite repeat. There are of course some good traditional tunes that we all look forward to hearing, but there is seemingly no escape from them. It is without further ado The Edge presents a list of the best seasonal songs you may not have heard, in the hope of bringing something new to your Yuletide aural experience. This is by no means a definitive list since pretty much every band has released a Christmas song at some point, so it is likely there are some amazing songs missing from this list, in which case what do you feel has been left out? Leave us a comment.
1. Reuben – Christmas is Awesome
The mack daddy of all Christmas rock songs, the story behind the release of this attempt to write the heaviest Christmas single ever seems to summarise the misfortune blighted career of the underrated Surrey three-piece. Initially gaining a high level of interest on YouTube the song failed to stir support from any major radio stations. The dream definitively ended after the wrong registration data was submitted to iTunes, disqualifying it for entry into the charts. It’s still a great tune with brilliant lyrics though, and tell me you don’t want one of those disgusting Christmas jumpers they wear in the video. Despite the members now having parted ways it even spawned a cover from collaborator and long time friend of the band Frank Turner.
2. Tellison – Good Luck It’s Christmas
London indie-rockers Tellison released this slightly melancholy track last year. This is the musical equivalent of cuddling up with a warm mug of cocoa in front of a roaring fire, and if you want to do just that the track is still available as a ‘name your price’ download from their bandcamp page.
3. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler – Christmas Day (I Wish I was Surfing)
What can you do when you’re a musical couple, such as Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler of Ash, that isn’t as twee as sending a joint Christmas card to your friends and family? You release an entire joint Christmas album of course. This upbeat cut sounds like a forgotten Beach Boys B-side, and despite the fact they may be singing about escaping some of the more traditional elements of Christmas it’s a wonderful way of introducing some festive cheer to your playlist.
4. Eels – Christmas is Going to the Dogs
Eels have found a musical niche with this track to say the least, a Christmas song from the perspective of one of our canine companions. “We’d rather have chew toys than Yule logs” sings Mark Oliver Everett in the chorus, and why question the strangeness of that statement when you can just sit back and enjoy this wonderfully jaunty number?
5. Skindred – Jungle Bells
Anyone familiar with Welsh ragga-metal act Skindred will probably be amused by this song released back in 2005, while others may be left scratching their heads at the bizarre fusion of styles. The song starts with a mangled version of ‘Jingle Bells’ while lead singer Benji Webbe chatters over the top, it sounds like something you might hear coming from a novelty Christmas decoration. You know the kind, gaudy foot-tall Santa with some kind of rubbish motor to make it gyrate in a clunky fashion. It does get much better from that point though, and there’s no denying it’s a good fun listen.
6. Blakfish – Missing You (The True Meaning of Christmas)
Brummie four piece Blakfish known for their vocal harmonies and math-rock style released this free download in 2009 just for fun. Despite some decidedly dodgy singing and a key change that would make even a Eurovision entrant cringe, the multiple lyrical nods to classic Christmas songs and catchy hooks (not to mention the fact they’re clearly enjoying themselves a great deal) make this essential listening. Although now sadly defunct, with 3/4 of the band now in &U&I and lead singer Sam Manville now in Hymns, the song is still available for free from a dedicated part of their old website.
7. #Tags – Christmas (I’m Not the One You Want)
Local boys and The Edge favourites #Tags brought this one out last year and it’s an absolute cracker, pun completely intended. Tongue in cheek lyrics about having to return a lover’s unwanted Christmas gift start off the song before giving way to an incredibly catchy chorus that you’ll no doubt be humming all year round. A little warning though, the song does contain more than twice the daily recommended allowance of cowbell so not advised for those highly allergic to funk.
8. The Hives & Cyndi Lauper – A Christmas Duel
At first this may seem like an unlikely pairing, but after just a single listen you’ll wonder how this isn’t a solid gold classic already despite the fact it was only released four years ago. The best comparison is probably to a modern day updating of the timeless “Fairytale of New York”, with the two singers taking verbal swipes at each other over the top of jolly music. Tales of sleeping with other people, record collections set on fire and car wrecking all get a mention in this dysfunctional tale, but the charisma the two singers bring together give the feeling that everything is going to work out just fine.
9. Lemmy Kilmister, Billy Gibbons & Dave Grohl – Run, Rudolph, Run
Thus far I’ve tried to steer this list away from covers but the sheer musical talent in this group is too much to ignore. The band is formed of gravel-throated Lemmy of Motorhead fame, Billy Gibbons (one of the humans beneath the beards of ZZ Topp) and all round legend Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame. This straight-up rock ‘n’ roll tune is probably what Santa himself sings as he belts across the sky on Christmas Eve. Excellent.
10. The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)
Often unfairly forgotten or overlooked as a novelty band, people tend to forget what a creative powerhouse Justin Hawkins and co. can truly be. Their trademark over-the-top style works wonders for this offering, with not one but two guitar solos and an entire school choir involved. Possibly more well known than most mentioned here but no list would truly be complete without it.