I’m not the kind of person who goes nuts around Christmas and spends a lot of time decorating, baking and trying to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. So I usually get quite annoyed when the airwaves fill up with saccharine sweet Christmas songs, so therefore I’ve made a list of ten songs that won’t drive me nuts in the month of December. They may not all be Christmas songs in the conventional sense, but they all mention Christmas in one way or another and every one of them should be a nice break from Last Christmas and Silent Night.
01) The Pogues: Fairytale of New York
Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl duet about being a pair of bums in New York at Christmas time in a song, which is both absolutely beautiful and funny. Not surprisingly the song was The Pogues’ biggest hit and it still stands as the best Christmas song ever written.
Best line: You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last
02) Fountains of Wayne: The Man in the Santa Suit
This song is only available on the I Want an Alien for Christmas single (which features The Man…, Alien…, and Haunakah under the Stars). It tells the story of a guy, who has to suffer the humiliation of having to work as a department store Santa, so he can make a few bucks around Christmas. It’s a classic Fountains of Wayne song, which blends melancholy and humour with a catchy tune.
Best line: And he’s a big red cherry, but it’s hard to be merry
When the kids are all laughing saying hey it’s Jerry Garcia
03) D-A-D: Sad, Sad Christmas
Danish rockers D-A-D (formerly Disneyland After Dark) released this corny Christmas single about a single Dad, who has trouble getting into the spirit of things after his wife left with the car, the credit cards, and the furs. It’s not exactly a brilliant song, but it is quite funny and the chip monks singing back-up really takes the song over the top. The song is available on the record D-A-D Special, which features the best songs from their first two records. The album was released to pave the way for the album No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims, which was supposed to have been their big break in the US.
Best line: Well, now we can’t afford to celebrate The Lord
Daddy, what a Lord? He made Mother take the Ford
04) Nada Surf: 80 Windows
Probably not meant so much as a Christmas song as a song about whining about being alone at Christmas time. Taken from the overlooked follow-up album to High/Low this is actually a cool indie track with nice harmonies that’ll make you forget that the lyrics strictly speaking don’t make sense.
Best line: I feel far away from you, so what else is new
The moon is closer to the sun than I am to anyone
05) Everclear: Hating You for Christmas
This is the bonus track on the So Much for the Afterglow record in which Art Alexakis rips into his ex, who’s left him and has gone on to better things. Getting dumped right before Christmas seems to a theme here.
Best line: I just want to sit in our apartment and hate you
Yes, I will be hating you for Christmas
06) John Prine: Christmas in Prison
An incarcerated John Prine leaves the whining to the indie kids on this beautiful country track. It’s a great love song, where love isn’t exactly lost, but just put on hold by the American Penal System. The song is both available on Sweet Revenge and the album John Prine Christmas.
Best line: It was Christmas in prison and the food was real good
We had turkeys and pistols carved out of wood
07) Mew: She Came Home for Christmas
Danish indie band Mew released this song as a single a couple of years ago (and will release it in England next week) and it’s as beautiful as it is sad. It’s a bit difficult to decipher the lyrics, but they could definitely deal with someone being sexually assaulted. So again not exactly a cheery Christmas tune, but definitely one of the most haunting ones I’ve ever heard.
Best line: Don’t touch her there. He watched her. She knew his look.
08) Ben Folds Five: Brick
When is the most depressing time for you and your girlfriend to have an abortion? Well, 6 am day after Christmas has to be up there. Brick was a surprise hit for Ben Folds Five especially considering the seriousness of the song’s subject matter. But as a Christmas song I’ll take it over Mariah Carey’s version of All I Want For Christmas Is You any day of the week.
Best line: I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers and sell some gifts that I got
09) Badly Drawn Boy: Donna and Blitzen
The Badly Drawn Brit ended of his About a Boy soundtrack with this optimistic song about returning reindeer. Thankfully, there isn’t a version of Santa’s Super Sleigh on the album, so this is the only Christmas song on the record.
Best line: Maybe tomorrow we’re gonna see
Things we’d never believe
10) Pearl Jam: Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time)
Pearl Jam has since 1991 released a single at Christmas time, which is only available to members of their fan club. Let Me Sleep was the first of these singles (since then it has been mainly cover versions) and it’s basically a song about longing for the joy you felt as a kid at Christmas time.
Best line: Oh, when I was a kid… Oh, how magic it seemed.
Oh, please let me sleep, it’s Christmas time
Honourable mentions go to: The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack, Ben Folds’, Eels’, and Barenaked Ladies’ contributions to the How the Grinch Stole Christmas Soundtrack, and the song Just Like Christmas from the Low album Christmas.