‘It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas’ Mr Buble chimes through shop windows, parents’ houses and every Spotify Christmas playlist, it seems. He’s correct in the observation, but boy does he play it out. Fed up? Good. We’ve collated the best of the best alternative Christmas songs for your listening pleasure, with little risk of them being played-out by the time you get back from your grocery run. You won’t be hearing these from the speakers of your favourite Christmas shopping haunts; these are Christmas’s best kept secrets.
Fall Out Boy – ‘Yule Shoot Your Eye Out’
No one does puns quite like Fall Out Boy. And when it comes to celebrating the festive season, where easy puns and word-plays are scattered like snowfall, the Chicago-born boys deserve a spot on this list for simply the sheer inventiveness of the name of their only original Christmas song. But luckily this is one of the most iconic bands of modern rock, and the song’s content is pretty damn worthy of the list’s top spot too.
One of the band’s few acoustic songs making up their lengthy discography, the jingle jangle of everyone’s internal Christmas soundtrack forms the juxtaposed backbone to this bitter declaration of heartache in the holiday season. “Don’t come home for Christmas, you’re the last thing I wanna see, underneath the tree,” frontman Patrick Stump wails, after declaring that the only thing he wants this year is “one awkward silence, and two hopes you cry yourself to sleep staying up, waiting by the phone.” Despite the very un-festive feel to FOB’s only original Christmas song, Stump’s vocals married with strong acoustic riffs and a wailing key-change cements its place on The Edge’s pop-punk Christmas playlist.
All Time Low – ‘Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass’
Another one for the heartache pile (pop-punk bands really get their hearts broken this time of year, don’t they?), this one’s a classic ATL ‘fuck you’, or rather, ‘kiss my ass.’ With sleigh bells and a chipper chorus, you wouldn’t think the Baltimore-born quartet are singing about a screwed-up holiday sent in a downwards spiral, but with a chirpy “I gave you my heart, but you ripped it apart, like the wrapping paper trash” the boys really bring the frost to the winter season.
Extra points for rhyming ‘Christmas’ with ‘Ass’.
Fall Out Boy – ‘What’s This?’
It might be cheating to include two Fall Out Boy songs on the list, but this little known cover taken from the cover-album of The Nightmare Before Christmas (featuring the likes of Panic! At the Disco and The All American Rejects) is a gem for the festive season. From the very start the boys give it their all and make it their own, with jagged guitar riffs blending with Stump’s liquescent vocals to make this cover of Tim Burton’s classic one of the best rock covers of recent years. Somehow Stump manages to convey Jack’s excitement and naive curiosity through vocals alone, whilst keeping that classic Fall Out Boy fire alive, making it a worthy contender for best alternative Christmas song.
Shane Dawson – ‘Maybe This Christmas’
A few years ago the popular YouTuber recorded a Christmas song; a lovely, twinkly, chipper song with obscure lyrics claiming that Santa is a pedophile and Eggnog looks suspiciously like semen. A bit of a red-flag, in retrospect, that the song wouldn’t go on to do well and would indeed be swiftly forgotten.
But looking past the lyrics seemingly designed for pure, unadulterated shock factor, it’s actually a sweet song about hoping to be happy the coming holidays. As I’m sure many can relate, Christmas isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be for some and it’s refreshing to hear a song that admits that, whilst still reveling in the usual festive optimism for the coming season. The video is quite sweet as well.
My Chemical Romance – ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’
I don’t know about you, but all I want for Christmas is for My Chemical Romance to reform.
But in the meantime, whilst that never happens, we can listen to their pre-Black Parade cover of Mariah Carey’s ultimate Christmas hit ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You.’ Traces and influences from their Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge era can be easily detected, and frontman Gerard Way’s vocals almost makesthis song unrecognisable from the original. Beginning with a simple piano/vocals intro, the familiar refrain of the original makes its way of slow piano keys before diving into thrashing guitars for the second verse. Way’s voice gets almost more pained, as was typical of him during the Revenge era, as the song goes on, but that familiar jingle-jangle apparently necessary for a song to constitute being Christmas-themed keeps in place before layers upon layers of Way’s vocals lead the song in a festive fade-out.
Kids in Glass Houses – ‘Secret Santa’
Kids in Glass Houses win two awards on this list. Number one, most distinctive voice goes to frontman Aled Phillips, and number two, most overtly sexual Christmas song goes to ‘Secret Santa.’ Lyrics like “and your boss just touched up the secretary, she looks like she just won the lottery” and “What is this gift you got me? Dig deeper in your stocking” reveal themselves as poor ‘attempts’ to cover up the thematic direction of the song, but no doubt make it all the funnier to add to your annual Christmas playlist. It’s one of the catchiest ones on the list too, by all means.
The Crookes – ‘You Bring the Snow’
Perky guitars and keyboards transform bittersweet nostalgia into 3 minutes and 50 seconds of the least Christmassy song on this list, in terms of a severe lack of sleigh bells and chimes. But no worry for The Crookes who revel in bouncy instrumentals and smooth, mellow vocals in a song you can be free of guilt for listening to even when it isn’t December. Take away the lyrics and you wouldn’t even know it’s Christmas.
Blink 182 – ‘Happy Holidays You Bastard’
Finally, what’s this festive tune if not relatable, eh?