Ten Christmas Songs That Don't Suck

It's only December 3 and it's already getting really painful to listen to Christmas music taking over the radio stations. While we realize we're probably in the minority here–we know, Scrooge, etc.–we're really going to have to insist it's only 'cause this is the only time of year when listening to Wings and Wham! is socially acceptable.

So we've pulled together this list of ten Christmas songs you won't be hearing on KOST… sure the subject matter get kind of dark at times (poverty? Not so fun), but at least it also won't make you wish you stayed home and just shopped online instead.

1. The Pogues – “Fairytale of New York”

All that Flogging-Molly-Dropkick-Murphys, traditional Irish music-infused rock/excuse to get wasted that's fucking huge these days? You can thank the Pogues for a lot of that. In addition to claiming the Clash as a major influence, the Pogues brought in traditional Celtic instruments like whistles, accordions and citterns with the Celtic punk. This song? Total drinking anthem. Perfect for the holidays.


2. James Brown – “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”

Without getting too much into blah academia: Funk was the music of the working class (some say derived from slavery-era work spirituals), and James Brown here is directing the message of not forgetting the ghetto or impoverished at, well, the listener. America. You know. Kinda deep for the holidays. We'll stop now, but sorry if we took all the fun out of a Christmas tune. Uh.

3. The Kinks – “Father Christmas”

This 1977 single by the Kinks tells a tale from the point of view of a department store Santa who gets his ass kicked by a group of poor kids, insisting that toys should be given to “the little rich boys”–while demanding money for themselves. At one point, the kids request: “But give my daddy a job 'cause he needs one/He's got lots of mouths to feed.” Poverty? A not-so-rare reality check that unfortunately pops up a lot this time of the year.

4. Low – “Just Like Christmas”

The embedding to the only video of this Low track has been disabled by request, so here's a link instead. The Duluth, Minnesota band known for innovating the uh, “slowcore” (we know) genre, but Low's best known track is actually another holiday tune: An incredibly moody processional version of “Little Drummer Boy” that was featured once in a GAP commercial–you know, before those got annoying, too–with a touch of  droney shoegaze.

5. Otis Redding – “Merry Christmas, Baby”

Here's a cover of the original Christmas track popularized by Charles Brown. Fact: Otis Redding died in a plane crash at 26, despite the fact that he sounded three times that. [
6. The Flaming Lips – “Christmas at the Zoo”

True story: The Flaming Lips actually released an entire film on Christmas–a science fiction holiday film, to be exact–in 2008 titled Christmas on Mars. Here's the trailer, not that any of it is going to make any sense anyway. We love you, Wayne.

7. Weezer – The Christmas Song

What the fuck, Green album era Weezer on a top ten list? Yes. To all you assholes who can only talk about how Weezer needs to go back to the days of Pinkerton, this one's for you: This Japanese Green album B-side could fit in easily with some of the band's best. It's adorable, really. And will probably go great with that new Weezer Snuggie.

8. The Polyphonic Spree – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”

It might be an obvious choice, but the Polyphonic Spree's cover actually improves on John Lennon's original modern-day holiday staple: No Yoko!

9. The Who – “Christmas”

Though we also totally dig the cover version by Rogue Wave (hear it here!), this track digs deep in the more serious side of holiday music: “And Tommy doesn't know what day it is/He doesn't know who Jesus was or what praying is/How can he be saved?/From the eternal grave.”

10. Eazy-E – “Merry Muthafuckin' Xmas”

We're only being half-serious with this one. Merry motherfuckin' Christmas, everyone!

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