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Jay’s Best Indie Christmas Music in Video

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Fa la la la la, my friends. Xmas is doomed to be musical. How 'bout takin' a break from "Deck the Halls?" (Don't get me wrong: there's a caroling soft spot in my Tiny Tim-loving heart of hearts.) Like everything else these days music has a major visual element, as strange as that sounds.

So at your service: a  list of top Xmas music videos. Some are straight-up music videos, others extracts from films or even TV specials, which you may want to rent (or find the other parts on Youtube). Many of them are quirky, some underground. All of them "rock," on some level. More could certainly be added, and this hierarchy could easily be shuffled around. May ye find something new here, remember something you forgot, or just have a good laugh.

20. Kurtis Blow, "Christmas Rapping." Wow, 1980, this was that seminal moment when rap emerged between funk and disco. Blondie's "Rapture" (which came out one year later and was mistakenly referred to by some critics as the first rap song ) sounds a lot like this.

19. Steve Earle, "Christmas in Washington." Perhaps Earle's best song.Golden.

18. "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," Gayla Peevey is the 11-year-old singer. Totally silly. Just shut up and laugh, would ya?

17. Run D.M.C., "Christmas in Hollis." The Old Skool rappers give you a grinworthy tale about finding Santa's wallet, apparently dropped from the sleigh on high. Shits and giggles category.

16. The Wombats, "Is this Christmas?" Wombats new single for Christmas 2008? Good indie pop fun.

15. Kinks', "Father Christmas." This song rocks any time of year. It also gives a nice class reflection on this consumerist holiday.

14. Fall Out Boy, "What's This?" (also from The Nightmare Before Christmas) Okay, so this list is a bit NBC-heavy and could be Halloween as well as Christmas, but that’s the point of that film and its music; and the soundtrack’s creativity and vocal performances are extraordinary.

13. "Oogie Boogie's Song," from Nightmare Before Christmas. A delicious Cab Calloway-esque number sung by Ken Page,composed by the remarkable Danny Elfman.

12. Bright Eyes, "Blue Christmas." Bright Eyes' Connor Oberst with his own distinctive re-working of the Elvis classic. I prefer Connor's. Sue me, Elvis fans.

11. Sufjan Stevens, "Sister Winter." Those of you who don't feel like empathizing with the lonely, sad, and regretful during the holidays should skip this one. Others will find another gorgeous, delicate folk-pop song by Sufjan, remembering and forgetting, gift-giving and gift-renouncing, dying and rebirth.

10. Sufjan Stevens, "That was the Worst Christmas Ever." Imagine "Christmas at Walton's Mountain," redone by HBO. This dreamy little ditty with its back-porch banjo sound would be a shoe in for the theme song.

9. The Pogues, "Fairytale of New York." Shane McGowan will go down in history as one of the greatest self-destructive front-men. And here he is at his tenderest and rowdiest all in one song, maybe because the talented Kirsty MacColl brings it out of him in a duet.

8. John Lennon, "So this is Christmas (War is Over)." It's heavy, sure. But doesn't he have the right idea? So, let's listen to it respectfully, then jump in the Hummer and head to the mall.

7. Elvis, "Blue Christmas" Live. Well, this is straight up, for the Elvis fans.

6. "Misfit Toys," from Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. Rudolph and his homey, the elf who dares to dream of being a dentist–indie to the core. Now we know where the Misfits got their name.

5. The Pretenders, "2,000 Miles." Luscious song from the lovely Chrissy Hynde.

4. "I Like Life,"  from A Christmas Carol (the 1970 musical adaptation). The music, composed by Leslie Bricusse, is excellent, though I enjoy seeing Scrooge levitating about the room, getting snockered, and  led in song by the joyously Bacchus-like Ghost of Christmas Present.

3. Boymongoose, "Indian 12 Days of Christmas." Boymongoose is an Indian Animated Popstar who has an album hilariously covering American Christmas songs.

2. "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." Helluva soundtrack to that Dr Seuss Christmas classic. Also compare to the Whirling Dervishes cover.

1. "Snow Miser and Heat Miser," from The Year Without a Santa Claus. Arguably the best by those claymation geniuses Rankin and Bass. How agreeably unforgettable are those Broadway-esque scenes of brawling brothers Heatmiser and Snowmiser, given dominion over the northerly and southerly climes by their Mother Nature. Their song and dance routines are etched in the minds of millions of adults and even received an indirect homage in the film Batman and Robin (1997), where the villainous Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) encourages his minions to fête him with Snowmiser’s song. Did you know that Elliot Smith's band (before he went solo) was called "Heat Miser?" I kid thee not. For my nerdy review of the video click here.

Honorable Mention:

Buck Owens, "Daddy Looked a Lot Like Santa"

The Waitresses, "Wrappin' Christmas"

Bob and Doug Mackenzie, "12 Days of Christmas"

Happy Holidays!

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About Jayson Harsin