Your holiday play list could use some freshening up. Give these 22 tunes a spin
As much as I dig the “classics” at Christmas, I’ve heard them enough.
And whenever I leave the house this time of year, I’m hit with a barrage of those songs.
When I’m decorating the tree, baking cookies or wrapping presents, I need something a little different. So this is my playlist, full of hip-hop and indie rock and truly weird and off-the-beaten-path Christmas songs.
“Yellow Bike,” Pedro the Lion
The first single from the reformed indie rock band is all about the freedom granted by a brand new yellow bike opened on Christmas morning.
“Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,” The Joker
We dig Batman in my house, and this track from an episode of “Batman: The Animated Series” features Mark Hamill as the Joker singing the classic goof on “Jingle Bells.”
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Flipping the traditional roles on this song, Nathaniel Rateliff and his female duet partner switch sides.
“Punk Rawk Christmas,” MxPx
A bright pop-punk addition to the holidays.
“A Willie Nice Christmas,” Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson
There’s a little smoke in the air, and everything’s wrapped in red bandanas when Willie Nelson plays Santa.
“Run Run Rudolph,” She & Him
Though this is by She & Him, Zooey Deschanel takes a back seat to guitar wizard M. Ward in this Chuck Berry cover.
“Christmas in Hollis,” Run D.M.C.
You can’t have Christmas without it. It’s a rule.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” DMX
It’s the best. Don’t fight it.
“Merry Christmas From the Family,” Robert Earl Keen
My favorite Christmas song of all time has more real, true Christmas in its four minutes than any cozy Currier & Ives postcard.
“Fairytale of New York,” The Pogues, Kirsty MacColl
My other favorite Christmas song isn’t a happy one. A drunken Christmas binge, a foul-mouthed fight and crushed dreams factor into this unhappy but beautiful song.
“Frosty the Snowman,” Dan Tyminski
I’ve never heard a better version of this song as delivered by the crisp-voiced vocalist from Alison Krauss & Union Station.
“She Screams Christmas,” Frightened Rabbit
The holidays can be painful, especially when they bring memories of last Christmas, when people you love were still there and things were happier.
“Blue Christmas,” Bright Eyes
Conor Oberst and his pals made the best version of this sad-sack Christmas song since Elvis Presley himself.
“I Wish It Was Christmas Today,” Julian Casablancas
A goofy recurring “Saturday Night Live” sketch saw Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan deliver this goofy song around the holidays. Then The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas actually recorded it. Amazing.
“Got Something For You,” Best Coast and Wavves
“Hey, baby. I got something for you, and I want to tell you, but you have to wait.” So adorable and sunny.
“Christmas All Summer Long,” Deer Tick
With a blistering riff reminiscent of Chuck Berry, Deer Tick pays tribute to its favorite things about Christmas. Their argument: These things are good all year long.
“Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis,” Neko Case
A letter to Charlie from an old friend, Case’s stark take on the Tom Waits original is a portrait of someone with a hard, tough life celebrating Christmas.
“Santa’s Beard,” They Might Be Giants
So, this is like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” except it’s a guy spotting his wife hanging with Santa, who is really his neighbor. Favorite lyric: “I don’t like that fat guy around.”
“Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance,” Sufjan Stevens
The King of Indie Rock Christmas has more than 40 Christmas songs. This one sounds like a real-life family and the chaos surrounding holiday celebrations. I dig it.
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” Death Cab For Cutie
This breathy version of the Darlene Love original is fantastic.
“It’s Not Christmas ’Til You Come Home,” Norah Jones
Gorgeous. More, please.
“His Favorite Christmas Story,” Capital Lights
An adorable (if cheesy and trite) Christmas story that gets me every time.