Christmas songs to try - go on, you know you want to...
‘A Great Big Sled’,
The Killers A charity record for Aids sufferers, this stab at Xmas frivolity from The Killers is a wee bit soft-rock, but it’s awfully sweet and nostalgic with it. ‘I wanna roll around like a kid in the snow/I wanna relearn what I already know.’ Bless.
‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)’
The Ramones These days The Ramones are known more as a kitsch T-shirt logo than a band, which is a shocking shame. This track is from their early-’80s days, when they were rather more pop than punk, but it still stands up surprisingly well to modern ears.
‘Christmas at the Zoo’
The Flaming Lips As we’ll see, ‘alternative’ Christmas tunes are often an excuse to sing about grim stuff, so let’s go a bit whimsical with this song in which Lips frontman Wayne Coyne tries to free animals from a zoo, only to find they’re planning their own revolt.
‘I Was Born on Christmas Day’
Saint Etienne Guest vocalist Tim Burgess of The Charlatans was born on May 30, but that doesn’t stop him from lying through his teeth about it on this sparkly indie-dance track. It’s so mid-’90s it almost hurts, which is all part of the charm.
‘Christmas with the Devil’
Spinal Tap The great thing about Spinal Tap was that while their tunes were pitch-perfect pastiches of ludicrous ’80s heavy metal posturing, they also did genuinely good tunes. Here’s a perfect example. Elves dressed in leather indeed.
‘Christmas Number One’
The Black Arts Not so much a song as an ironic deconstruction of every Christmas tune ever, this collaboration between Black Box Recorder and Art Brut is (intentionally) naff and utterly hilarious. All together now: ‘We wrote it on the beach in August as the snow began to fall…’
‘Fairytale of New York’
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl It’s odd, really, isn’t it, how the subversive can be co-opted by the mainstream? ‘Fairytale…’ is a tick-box of Christmas misery: alcoholism, domestic fighting, the loss of love. And yet this theoretically ‘alternative’ track is sung annually in the UK by grannies, swearing and all. Probably because it’s awesome.
The Waitresses Okay, we’re stretching the definition of ‘alternative’ a bit since it’s played occasionally here and there. Still, with its Seinfeld-esque bassline, harmonised vocals and sax chorus, it’s probably the most ’80s thing ever made. You can smell the hairspray. Still great, though.
The Kinks Written during their late-’70s slide into bigger, rockier sounds, this track still showcases Ray Davies’ fine grasp of cracking riffs and social commentary. Yeah, the moral in this story of a Santa impersonator being mugged by impoverished youths as a class statement is a bit on-the-nose, but it still sounds great.
‘We’re All Going to Die’
by Malcolm Middleton Perhaps we used the phrase ‘on-the-nose’ a little lightly there, considering this one. A refreshing break from both happy-clappy Chrimbo nonsense and all that hand-wringing political grandstanding, this instead turns its eyes to more existential worries – specifically the unstoppable black tide of death and the fear of being forgotten. Merry Christmas everyone!