Whether you're surrounded by family who cling dearly to that long-extinct "traditional Christmas," or you work retail and spend each grueling day bombarded by classic songs of yuletide cheer, Christmas music can suck the life out of you. Seriously, what do we really get out of holiday music? A dying snowman’s romp with the kids? Some old man or woman screaming to you that we need a little Christmas? Hell, we're perpetually locked in a baby-boomer Christmas-music nostalgia trip, and there's no hope for escape.
Alright, alright, we're being a bit cynical. But the songs we’re forced to listen to each year either blend into holiday white noise or they become an endlessly jingling burden so thick in our heads that only copious amounts of alcohol will keep the season of giving from becoming the season of screaming. But fear not, dear friend - we've got the answer. In our never-ending crusade to be your musical Santa, we've found ten Christmas songs that slap all the ass off the traditional fare. So, if you’ll join us, allow us to introduce you to Ten Kick Ass Alternative Christmas Tunes.
10. Crucial Youth – Santa Claus Is Coming
Album: The Crucial Yule 7”/Singles Going Straight
What can you expect from an iconic 80s hardcore band who dedicated themselves to taking the piss out of the straight edge movement? If it’s Crucial Youth then you can expect genius. While classic CY tunes likes “Me & Mr. T” or “Four Rules” made the band a household name amongst hardcore kids, only the most involved knew of the The Crucial Yule 7”. Crucial Youth took two classic hardcore jams, Agnostic Front’s “Crucified” and “Sargent D” from the supergroup S.O.D. and made them a bit more cheerful. “Crucified” became “Christmas Time” and “Sargent D” morphed into “Santa Clause Is Coming”. Both songs were hysterical, but my heart is always with “Santa Clause Is Coming”.
9. The Vandals – My First Christmas As A Woman
Album: No Ho Ho: Alternative Christmas Holiday Anthems Vol. 1
A high-speed punk rock transgender anthem about Christmas that contains the chorus “Cut It Off, Cut It Off”. Nuff’ Said.
8. Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin’
Once upon a time a man named Kurtis Blow ruled all of the hip hop landscape. Having taught us all about “The Breaks” and spent four years as the man who ruled the world, Kurtis Blow turned his magical flow to the holiday season. When pen met paper, and Blow met Santa, “Christmas Rappin'" was born over a funky beat that’s been sampled more times than I can count. Lyrically this might not be the greatest hip-hop jam ever but it rocks the shit out of Rudolph and his coked out nose.
7. Advance Base – Christmas In Oakland
Album: A Shut-In’s Prayer
Who says Christmas has to be joyous and happy? Not Owen Ashworth, that’s for sure. The man formerly known as Casitone lays down a heavy trip with “Christmas In Oakland.” Focused on the doomed relationship between two young lovers, the song is a very basic keyboard and electronic drum mix with Ashworth’s gloriously sad vocals. Using melancholy cues like a deserted town or a love that looks like a angel “who’d lost her wings,” Ashworth takes us along a journey between two lost outsiders who manage to find each other.
6. The Treacherous Three – Xmas Rap
Album: Beat Street Soundtrack/Sugar Hill Story
Long before Kool Moe Dee was celebrating the “Wild Wild West,” he and the rest of the Treacherous Three took aim at Christmas, and Santa Claus, from the point of view of the pissed off poor. Moe Dee assumed the Santa Claus role in this back and forth classical rap joint filled with some of the funniest and most biting lyrics in the history of the medium. The Treacherous Three and their anti-Christmas stance first gained exposure in the film Beat Street but the full and uncensored version became one of the 12” holy grails of the hip hop community. To this day “Xmas Rap” remains one of the best holiday tunes ever.
5. Bob Rivers – I Am Santa Claus
Album: Bob Rivers & Twisted Radio
Okay, I know what you’re going to say. Radio DJ’s suck and no, I can’t disagree with you. Personally I’ve never heard Bob Rivers’s kick out the shtick so I have no idea if he’s actually funny or douche-chill inducing. Regardless, “I Am Santa Claus” is awesome simply because it’s a Kris Kringle themed cover of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” Rivers does his best to sound like Ozzy and while the lyrics won’t have you spilling eggnog during great guffaws of laughter, “I Am Santa Claus” is solid enough to punch a heavy metal fist through Frosty’s heart.
4. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
Album: The Best Of The Waitresses
Few eighties bands have been as criminally overlooked as The Waitresses. Cleveland native Patty Donahue and her merry band of pop princes churned out awesome radio friendly gems like “I Know What Boys Like” and this classic Christmas jam “Christmas Wrapping” (not to be confused with the Kurtis Blow tune “Christmas Rappin”). Besides being catchy as the flu in winter, “Christmas Wrapping” does more than just blow the holiday gods with long winded songs about how great it is to be around presents and snow. Donahue lays out a yearlong attempt between two single people to try and get together. A string of mishaps keeps them apart until they bump into each other on Christmas Eve in a grocery store (apparently both had allowed cranberries to slip their minds). In the end love conquers all, Christmas is saved and we all get to sing along to the adventure.
3. Weird Al Yankovic – Christmas At Ground Zero
Album: Polka Party
Weird Al is the man. Always has been, always will be. With that type of pedigree, it follows that Al would knock a Christmas themed song right out of the park. Taking the standard structure of 60s era Christmas carols from The Ronettes and then lifting some finer points from “I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas” by Yorgi Yorgesson, Weird Al paints a dark and awful picture of a post-nuclear Christmas, but does it in the catchiest and most upbeat style ever. Al’s delivery is so swinging that you almost believe not even fallout or radiation poisoning could ruin this happy, joyous day.
2. Lou Monte – Dominic The Donkey
Album: The Italian Xmas Donkey
Yeah, reindeer can fly, but apparently their skills are not enough to overcome the massive hills of Italy. Still needing to get presents to Italian children, Santa calls upon his old pal Dominic, a Christmas Donkey of unsurpassed intelligence. Not only can this four-legged party animal rock a derby, he dances and understands Italian. I’d like to see Dancer or Dasher or Prancer or Vixen fuck with that action. Lou Monte takes a sea chantey, combines it with an old country vibe and then sprinkles on some thick Italian clichés. In doing that, he arrives at the best version of Dominic the Donkey. So next time you hear hooves clapping around on the roof, and you happen to be in Italy for Christmas, you just might get to view Dominic in all his donkey glory.
1. Yulenog & Nathan Karuna – I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek
Album: Yulenog 3: Hardest Working Man In Christmas
Yeah, this one, well, this one is just weird. Originally sung by the 60s British group The Go-Go’s (NOT Belinda Carlisle and the gang), “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek” is about as alternative a Christmas tune as you can get. Forgetting for a second that this person is going to spend Christmas with a creature that wants nothing more than to exterminate every living thing in every universe ever, this song is musically right off the reservation. Part Peter Gunn Theme, part horn flavored classic Christmas carol vibe, “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek” is weirder than a weekend in the Tardis. Fellow Doctor Who fans will rejoice in discovering this but trust me, those out there without a taste for the Doctor will enjoy this song as well.
That’s it. Phew! Now you can all head out to create a mixtape/playlist of Christmas jams that won’t make you hate the season. No need to thank us, we just got caught up in the spirit of giving.