Christmas has always belonged to pop music, and there’s nothing wrong with that (unless you see Whamageddon as a survival challenge). But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a little variation. It’s a long standing tradition for rock bands and alternative artists to put their own spin on the classics, so it’s time to make a playlist for the edgy listener as we approach the festive season. Here’s a collection of original Christmas songs, traditional tunes and pop covers from all your favourite bands.
Bad Religion – Christmas Songs
There’s something deeply ironic and weirdly satisfying about a band called Bad Religion covering Christmas carols on their Christmas Songs. Traditional favourites like ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ get a punk rock makeover on this album, and the result is surprisingly good. It’s the perfect collection if you want to hear a really different twist on the classic carols, and you’re looking for something a little more fast-paced to kick start the festive season.
Bad Religion’s Christmas Songs is available via Epitaph.
Weezer – Christmas With Weezer
Move out of the way Bublé, it’s Weezer’s time, with 2008’s Christmas With Weezer. Like Bad Religion, they opted for the traditional carols with a pop punk twist. Their sound is a step towards the traditional; not quite as harsh sounding but with the right amount of electric guitars to jazz up the originals. Their cover of ‘O Holy Night’ is almost theatrical in its dramatic guitars and their alternative rock vocals work fantastically with the traditional songs.
Weezer’s Christmas With Weezer is available via DGC/Interscope Records.
Siouxsie and the Banshees – ‘Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant’
Into the classics we go. It feels right that gothic pioneers Siouxsie and the Banshees would release a hauntingly festive cover of the the French traditional classic. This song isn’t just for December – you’ll find the repeating chorus stuck in your head all throughout the year.
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ ‘Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant’ is available via Polydor Ltd. (UK)
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – ‘Little Drummer Boy’
Another classic rockstar here putting her spin on a classic, with Joan Jett’s ‘Little Drummer Boy’. The song originally made its way into her celebrated I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll album, but was re-recorded for Spotify Singles at Christmas a few years back. This is another great song to scream along to on a peaceful Christmas morning, if your family will let you.
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ ‘Little Drummer Boy’ is available via Blackheart Records Group, under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment.
Ramones – ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’
It’s not always peace and love at Christmas time. Ramones’ festive tune and accompanying music video tells the story of a dysfunctional couple trying to hold their relationship together long enough to survive the Christmas party without getting in a massive fight. Try playing this during Christmas dinner with some of your more opinionated relatives.
Ramones’ ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) is available via EMI Music Germany.
Misfits – ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’
Straying farther and farther from the traditional holiday spirit, we get to scary punks Misfits’ Horror Xmas album, and their cover of movie classic ‘You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch’. Don’t be put off by the contradictory album title, this song is a lot of fun.
Misfits’ ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ is available via Cyclopian Music, under license to Misfits Records LLC.
My Chemical Romance – ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’
I shouldn’t have to explain why an emo cover of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ is the best thing in the world, but I might do it anyway. The sheer chaos of hearing this version for the first time is an unforgettable experience. Do you love it? Do you hate it? It doesn’t matter, you’ll be listening to it on repeat for a month anyway.
My Chemical Romance’s ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ is available via Warner Records Inc.
Creeper – ‘Fairytale of New York’
Purists won’t like this one, but Southampton’s Creeper did a fantastic cover of the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl classic, the two singers’ voices doing justice to the original. With an extra touch of electric guitar, this is a really nice homage to the original track.
Creeper’s ‘Fairytale of New York is available via Roadrunner Records UK, a division of Warner Records Inc. UK
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – ‘Santa Baby’
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes give us a crash course in why punk Christmas songs are so exciting. Starting off easy with a ukulele intro, these song leaps into overdrive as electric guitars take over. A world away from Eartha Kitt’s original, but just as good a listen this Christmas.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ ‘Santa Baby’ is available via Fat Wreck Chords.
The Offspring – ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’
The Offspring’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ is brand new track for the playlist, released just this year. Pairing great vocals with a fabulous song and heavy guitars, the punk band have done a lovely cover here.
The Offspring’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home’) is available via The Offspring, under exclusive license to Concord Records.
blink-182 – ‘I Won’t Be Home For Christmas’
Ending on an original song from blink-182 for the more cynical Christmas listener, ‘I Won’t Be Home For Christmas’ tells the story of a scrooge who spends Christmas in jail after going on a violent rampage against some particularly annoying carolers. Don’t try it at home, but give it a listen if the festive season is getting a bit much for you.
blink-182’s ‘I Won’t Be Home For Christmas’ is available via MCA Records Inc. / Geffen Records.