I used to think I hated Christmas songs. I dreaded the moment when the manufactured atmosphere coming off the Wal-bucks speakers would all be playing songs from the same playlist of all that is snowy and ribbon-wrapped. But in my first December as an obsessed radio-streamer, I discovered many delightful Christmas songs I’d never heard before.
Now that ’tis the season once again I’m looking forward to it. I’ve come to realize that what I hated about Christmas music was the same thing I’ve come to hate about commercial radio: it’s all so overplayed. Based on the narrow selection of songs you hear every holiday, you’d think that a new Christmas song only comes along every other year. This is ridiculous, of course. There are thousands of bands making music every year and even if many don’t have the holiday spirit, still many others must still be tempted to hop on the Christmas-cash-cow band wagon. The oft-praised Sufjan Stevens has released his third Christmas album, for Santa’s sake! And you don’t hear a one of those on the radio. Even Cardiff’s hippest hipsters Los Campesinos! are getting in on the action with their Christmas album, A Los Campesinos! Christmas.
But just as Weird ole’ uncle Al likes to harp on about walking to school buck naked in forty miles of snow, I’ll take any opportunity to complain about the dismal state of radio. The moral to this story is that there are tons of great Christmas songs out there that, just like in every other season, aren’t getting any airplay. Here are a few of my favorite indie Christmas songs.
Pas/Cal – Little Red Radio
An indie rock song that’s as pure as A Christmas Story. Much like the kids of that old Christmas flick, the narrative of this song is all about that one coveted present. And like the young characters in A Christmas Story the crooners’ want is just sweet and naive enough to make the consumerism palatable. “Little Red Radio” is probably the most spirited use of an organ ever used in a Christmas song.
Of Montreal – Christmas Isn’t Safe For Animals
If you like your music weird and if you prefer Buy Nothing Day to Black Tuesday, this is the song for you. Barely a Christmas song and more of an anti-consumer artistic statement. (I wish more of Of Montreal’s music leaned more towards social criticism and less towards whimsical fantasy.) It’s quirks like this that make me love Of Montreal all the more; either you’ll love this or hate it.
The Hives & Cyndi Lauper – A Christmas Duel
Currently this is my favorite Christmas song. Many have voted Fairytale of New York as the best Christmas song of all time, and if you’re in that crowd, you’ll love this track too. Like the couple trapped in the drunk tank on Christmas, this song highlights how Christmas brings together people who aren’t always happy to be in the same room together. Hilarity ensues. It would be a great song if it weren’t the Hives with Cyndi Lauper, but seeing as how it is, double the greatness.
Fallout Boy – What’s This
A punk cover of one of the best songs from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Does singing from the point of view of the Grinch count as punk rebellion?
Sally Shapiro – Anorak Christmas (Anoraak’s Christmas Remix)
For the electro lovers, here’s your sythtastic Christmas song.