The Black Mirror episode, ‘White Christmas’ ends with the actor, Rafe Spall, stuck inside a snow globe, listening to Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ on a loop for thousands of years. He gets up and smashes the radio playing it, but then a new radio appears with the song playing louder. It’s by far the best, and most cynical, evocation of the annual Christmas song rollout. The same songs year after year, sooner and sooner.
This year, the first Christmas song I heard was Paul McCartney’s, ‘Wonderful Christmastime’. I do like that one though. It’s quite a funny song. It played in an Uber on November 25th. I felt a mixture of dread and excitement. Even this very second, while I’m writing, I can hear Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ playing in the street opposite the library where I do my work. It’s so faint that it feels like a voice in my head, one that’s getting louder.
Krampus is the horned demon that scares bad children. He is the shadow in the corner of the room, menacing, implike, the opposite of Christmas cheer or maybe the embodiment of Christmas cheer. He has spent hundreds of years in different folklore traditions, with some even arguing he precedes Christ. So, in the spirit of Krampus, NetworthPick has compiled a list of the least conventional Christmas songs, ones which you will not be hearing on rotation this year; some naughty, some nice.
The Residents – Santa Dog ’78
Easily one of the most absurd Christmas offerings from a remarkable band that continues to perplex me. When it was released in 1972, a copy was sent to Richard Nixon as a present, but sadly, he refused to listen to it. 10/10 for effort.
Fat White Family – The Drones
Musically, this is probably one of the more interesting 21st Century Christmas songs. It’s a complete subversion of what you expect from a festive hit. It’s got church bells, but it’s also got tannoy vocals and out-of-tune guitars. It’s Christmas for the end of the world with a terrifyingly Lynchian video to match.
Michael Bublé from Hell.
Confidence Man – Santa’s Comin’ Down The Chimney
Released in 2018, Australia’s Confidence Man made a criminally underrated slice of festive Detroit-house. Like most Confidence Man songs, it’s camp and it’s ridiculously catchy. Definitely a song that deserves to be part of the annual Christmas canon.
Sugar Minott – Christmas Time
Dub, reggae and rocksteady have an abundance of great Christmas songs. It’s music which inspires community and all the better aspects of human nature. Full of spring reverb pops and woozy backing vocals, Sugar Minott shows us how Christmas songs can be smooth without melancholy and infectious without being invasive.
Vanity Fairy – Disco Christmas
Like the Confidence Man track, Norwich’s Vanity Fairy trades in crimbo for camp; swapping sleigh bells for synthesisers. If you have a New Year’s resolution, make it to see Vanity Fairy live.
The Eccentronic Research Council – Black ChristMass
Santa made some cutbacks and stuck a Lidl on top of the reindeer enclosure. Featuring spoken word by actress Maxine Peake, this nod to Mort Garson’s Black Mass is rooted in dogged social realism, rather than doe-eyed, chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire escapism. A cynic’s lament.
James Chance – Christmas With Satan
Keeping up with the upbeat theme of this playlist, no-wave superstar, James Chance, croons and grooves his way through a 10-minute epic about a night with The Devil. It’s funky, but like most truly great bands, it feels like it could fall apart at any minute. Chaos incarnate.
Yellowman – African Christmas
One of the most wonderful and charismatic singers to ever do it, ‘African Christmas’ reminds you that Yellowman is always fun, but always sincere.
Also, if you’re stuck for presents: a copy of his album, Mister Yellowman would never go amiss.
Gruff Rhys – Post Apocalypse Christmas
By appropriating the Glam Rock sensibility of Wizzard and Slade, Gruff, arguably, makes the most conventional Christmas song on this list. But by swapping out festive cheer with lyrics about ‘nuclear winter’ and having to ‘lick our wounds to kill our hunger’, Gruff brings us firmly back to the cold comfort of Christmas Nihilism. If you can tune out the lyrics, it’s quite a lovely song.
Beat Happening – Christmas
Well, I’ve saved the best until last. It draws an interesting distinction between Christmas song and song that happens to be set on Christmas – kind of like the Die Hard of Christmas songs.
If this is your first time listening to Beat Happening, please give them another chance. They do have some very pleasant songs, but ‘Christmas’ is without a doubt, the most unlistenable song on this dreaded list. Bah humbug. Happy Krampus.
If you’ve got some suggestions for weird and wild Christmas songs, leave them in the comments below!