Jingle bell rock

Nice and naughty Christmas songs that won’t drive you chestnuts

 By Tim Anderl


With Thanksgiving just days away, I expect you’ve already been subjected to nearly a month of Christmas songs and holiday favorites. Year after year, in every grocery store, bank or coffee bar, we’re treated – whether we like it or not – to Christmas classics; Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)”, Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas,” the timeless Christmas treatments of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, and for the bilingual, Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.” Unfortunately, by December 25 even my personal favorites, Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and Stevie Wonder’s version of “What Christmas Means To Me,” are skating on thin ice and pushing the boundaries of my “cheer” tolerance.

If you are in the same aggravated boat – err, sleigh – I’ve uncovered some Christmas songs that may not yet have landed on the “naughty” side of your listening list to help us get through the season.

The Dismemberment Plan//“This Christmas”

Angular, funky and fun, the band who reunited earlier this year take on a Christmas favorite with ear-pleasing results. Truth be told, this track will get far more attention from me through the end of the year than their recent release, Uncanney Valley, will.

 Easy-E//“Merry Muthafuckin Xmas”

On the edgier side, this Christmas jingle from the former N.W.A. rapper (RIP), is my second favorite hip-hop/rap holiday offering after Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” which is the undisputed holiday rap of them all. Hardcore bangers should also see Snoop’s “Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto.”

Lemmy Kilmister, Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl//“Run Run Rudolph”

Motorhead’s Kilmister, Foo Fighter’s Grohl and ZZ Top’s Gibbons give this Christmas classic an overhaul. It’s certainly no “Legs” or “Ace of Spades,” but it’s no Gene Autry-style crooner version of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” either.

Low//“Just Like Christmas”

 An original Christmas song from the Duluth, Minn. slowcore band, whose striking harmonies and country-tinged approach have been delighting fans since their inception in 1993. The song is an earnest and simple pleasure.

 The Promise Ring//“Holiday Adam”

Even emo forefathers from Milwaukee celebrate Christmas. Although not as well recognized as Santa’s laugh, the sound of Davey von Bohlen’s boyish lisp warms the heart. Put this on and corner your crush under the mistletoe.


Not to be overlooked, some years ago, the ghosts of Ohio music past got in on the action, delivering a fantastic collection of Christmas tunes called Home For The Holidays that may still be available in Omega Music’s cutout bin. The disc featured cuts from Ruckus Robiticus, Jet Kid Committee and more. But the standout, original Christmas cuts belonged to Flyaway Minion (“Sleigh in the Snow”) and Adam Remnant of Oakwood and his wife Amanda (“Out of this World”). If you can’t get your hands on that, I know I’ve seen a couple copies of “Xmas Time Is Here” by Tom Foolery and the Mistakes (a band that featured indie rock everyman and former Daytonian Kyle Sowash) floating around in there, and Kris N’s “Christmas Tree,” from his recent release, Thankful Parade, is a surefire holiday hit.

If after enjoying all these musical treasures you’re still in a humbugger of a mood, here’s a Scrooge-approved bunch that are sure to make Tiny Tim cry, shrink you heart three sizes and darken your rotten holiday …

They Might Be Giants//“Santa’s Beard”

 – What better time of year for a celebratory romp from the guys that built a birdhouse in your soul? Per usual, the band injects a wit and humor that provides a perfect respite from the hum drum.

Tenacious D and Sum 41// “Things I Want”

 Jack Black delivers his Christmas list in new wave of British heavy metal-musical fashion. Golden echo harmonica or a solid gold Harley with machine guns on the front, a time machine, and the Beatles copyrights? No brainer …

King Diamond//“No Presents For Christmas”

 There’s a reason that the Grinch is one of the most revered Christmas villains of all time; there’s simply nothing more horrifying than the thought that one might wake up to an empty tree. King Diamond confirms the horror of this scenario, making maximum use of double bass drum and his squealing falsetto along the way.

Of Montreal//“Is Christmas Safe For Animals?”

 There is something really wrong with Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes. “Is Christmas safe for animals?/Crippled with fear of the sparking wires/On an electrical beach/Plagued by the thought/That a bird cannot smile…” Who shit in this dude’s stocking? I know that local troubadour Joe Anderl covered this song on the aforementioned Home For The Holidays. Maybe he’ll play it at Holidayton 2013 and bum us all out.

 The Pogues (featuring Kirsty Maccoll)//“Fairy Tale of New York”


 While I’d rather listen to this than just about anything, regardless of the time of year, it is also easily the most depressing Christmas song of all time. If this song doesn’t break your heart, or at least make you want to pound hot mulled cider and wine until the decorations are back in the attic, you’re probably better suited for Wilson Phillips’ horrifying take on “Little Drummer Boy” anyway.

The Darkness//“Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)”

 Tease and spray your big hair into place, squeeze into some skin-tight red and green tiger-striped tights and join the ultimate British party band in their faux metal celebration of the season.

Reach DCP freelance write Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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