Sam may hate Christmas music, but being the local phonomancer of the website (and all six of you who’ve read Phonogram just punched the air), I LOVE it. However, I’m really bad at listening to the moldy oldies. I love versions that are a little interesting or songs that are classic, but not “classic.”
So here’s a list of my favorite Christmas songs, and my favorite versions of them.
1.) ‘Santa Baby’
Okay, let’s be real here. Lots of people have covered this ode to flirting to get what you want. From Madonna trying so hard and failing to sound like a sultry old school singer to Taylor Swift sounding like a petulant child to Michael Buble getting super “no homo.” Do not be fooled though for the original by Eartha Kitt is far superior in this case. Accept no substitutes.
Though, if you really do need a cover, it doesn’t get much better than RuPaul.
2.) ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’
Mariah Carey’s original Christmas song became an instant classic to the point where it is starting to make it on other people’s Christmas albums years later. Much like ‘Santa Baby’ though, I only have two covers of this song I accept: Mariah Carey singing it with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, and the previously linked version sung by a young Olivia Olson in the film Love, Actually. She sang so good that they trained her to sound bad.
3.) ‘Fairytale of New York’
The Pogues’ song of Christmas heartbreak is a classic for New Yorkers and people who hold a bit of bitterness at the holidays alike. Lots of covers of this song exist and one of my absolute favorites is Jesse Malin’s cover (another New York punk). However, my true favorite really is the version Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick did as Dr. Girlfriend and The Monarch. Out of every song The Ventures have done for Christmas, this one is on repeat constantly during the season.
4.) ‘Carol of the Bells’
This might be the only “traditional” song on the list, and really, there’s a part of me that really gets happy when I hear ‘Carol of the Bells’ in any version. But I can’t help but like the weird versions too, like Mr. Mackey above, The Muppets, or the NSFW version made by the band My Dick.
5.) ‘Last Christmas’
Okay, WHAM!’s song about being heartbroken at Christmas is totally the anthem of the Nice Guy™, but I can’t help but wail along with it whenever any cover of it comes on. And believe me, a LOT of covers exist of this song. My favorite to this day though is the one that Butch Walker and Yuji Oda did together.
6.) ‘Xmas in April’
Speaking of Butch Walker, may the Gods bless him for writing this stupidly clever and kind of NSFW Christmas song.
7.) ‘Yule Shoot Your Eye Out’
If you’re a Fall Out Boy fan, there’s a high probability that you’ve screamed this song in your room at least once during the holidays. It’s practically tradition because nothing encapsulates 2004 Pete Wentz more than this song.
8.) ‘Patrick Swayze Christmas’
This song is courtesy of the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode ‘Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.’ Why Crow wants to inject more Patrick Swayze in Road House, no one knows, but it gives me the warm fuzzies something fierce.
9.) ‘Oi To The World’
The Vandals’ punk rock anthem to peace on earth and goodwill towards men on Christmas is a classic, but like a stereotypical suburban mall goth, I prefer the No Doubt version. No matter what version you prefer, it’s hard not be shouting “OI! to the punks! OI! to the skins!” by the time you’re done.
10.) ‘Dick In A Box’
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What? It’s a Christmas song. (For people looking for a more serious Christmas song featuring Justin Timberlake, remember ‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays’?)
11.) ‘Coming Out For Christmas’
I have a complicated relationship with Voltaire. It’s a long story involving many cons that I probably can’t share online for a while, but let it be known that V is the butt of several jokes in our house. Still, as a queer girl who bites her tongue at a lot of family gatherings, I have a bit of affection for Voltaire’s ode to coming out to your family at the holidays.
12.) ‘What’s This?’
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include at least one song from The Nightmare Before Christmas on this list. The only movie that’s good to watch anytime between October and December, ‘What’s This?’ is Jack Skellington’s song of discovery and wonderment of Christmas Town. It’s one of the happiest moments of the film, and my favorite cover is Fall Out Boy’s cover from the 2006 re-issue of the soundtrack. We don’t talk about the Flyleaf version.
13.) ‘One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas’
The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of the best Christmas movies around. Both for the accurate retelling of the Charles Dickens tale while cutting out some of the weirder parts of it and the heartwarming songs written by Paul Williams. My favorite one still that gets me right in the mood for Christmas is ‘One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas,’ which is Kermit’s big number at the beginning of the film.
14.) ‘Little Dealer Boy’
The entire Colbert Christmas special is a gift to mankind, especially for all the original songs featured in the special. While my true favorite is the cover of ‘What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding,’ my favorite Christmas song in the special is Willie Nelson singing about being a wise man giving the baby Jesus weed. Let not mankind bogart love indeed.
15.) ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’
This is another one of those songs that just gets me instantly in the holiday mood no matter where I am. Most versions are kind of boring (or cause stupid controversies with retrofuturists), but when it comes to Bruce Springsteen or The Jackson 5, it is time to get down.
Honorable Mention: ‘The Hanukkah Song’
I know that Adam Sandler has been extremely hit or miss over the past few years, but I love this song just for the sheer joy of it. Plus, it’s how I learned who was Jewish in Hollywood.
Honorable Mention: ‘Christmas Is All Around’
Billy Mack’s big Christmas single isn’t in my Holiday canon as much as it should be, but with the love affair the entire staff has with Love Actually, I’d be stupid not to mention it.
What are your favorite Christmas songs? Tell me any I missed in the comments.