Everyone knows the standard Christmas classics trotted out every year; yer Slade, yer Wizzard, yer Shakin’ Stevens, but with the wonder of the internet, there’s a whole host of more contemporary festive ditties available from even the most unlikely of groups.
The Mancunian electro duo gave us this suitably bombast ballad last year. It’s not one for those who revel in in the cheerful glitz of the big day, but the slightly more miserable and mournful aspects, and just want it all out of the way. The free download is a downbeat but uplifting anthem, and should get more than a few plays over the next few weeks.
For all their pomp and extravagance, The Darkness certainly knew how to write a good rock tune. “Don’t Let The Bells End” is arguably their finest song, and contains all the tropes you’d expect; overblown solos, massive riffs, ridiculous vocals, sleigh bells,and the standard children’s choir. Just try not singing along to that chorus.
Most versions of the Band Aid fundraiser end up being dull, maudlin retreads of the original that almost sort of make you not want to donate anything. But when Canadian hardcore legends Fucked Up covered the track in 2009, they brought in a star-studded studio of help. Included on the track are Yo La Tengo, Wu-Tang’s GZA, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Tegan & Sara, Andrew WK, Bob Mould, Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene), Kyp Malone (TV On The Radio) and star of Arrested Development David Cross. It beats Coldplay and Dido.
The Las Vegas quartet have a tradition of bringing out a charity single every Christmas time, whether on hiatus or not. The best so far has been “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”, a quite bonkers plea to the big man in the red suit. It does have to be heard to be believed, and the video is suitably weird too.
Slighty obscure one here. “Christmastime Is Here” is taken from the Peanuts Christmas soundtrack A Charlie Brown Christmas, as well as soundtracking scenes in Arrested Development. It’s a laidback jazzy instrumental, perfect for relaxing indoors next to the fire, whilst the heavens open outside.
The standout song from one of the best Christmas films ever (and the only good musical, in this writer’s opinion), “What’s This?” is an all too brief sleigh ride through just how weird Christmas seems when you take a step back. I guess in context it’s helped by being viewed by a living skeleton. It’s so good that it can even survive a Fall Out Boy cover.
The Futureheads do frantic post-punk racket better than pretty much everyone, and they can even make it work with a Christmas single. “…Better In The 80s” manages to work in all the trademarks of the Mackem band; hooks a plent, chugging guitars and stellar vocal work. Sadly I can’t comment if the title is in fact true, but The Futureheads make it seem true.
Whereas The ‘Heads trumpet Christmas in the 80s, the Manics firmly believe that the 70s were the best for festivities. “Ghost Of Christmas” sees the Blackwood trio at their glam-rock finest, with unabashed saxophones and tubular bells, and namechecks for Scalectrix, Tomahawks and the Queen’s speech. If there were any justice in the world, this would have been a Christmas Number One.
The Sheffield duo give their twee folk a Yuletide spin, and it turns out to be even more lovely than usual, the key lyric being “And I’d like it if you made it to mind my Christmas Eve/So you can hold me/And we’ll watch Christmas TV”. Now who hasn’t felt like that? Their version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is also quite stellar.
Does what it says on the tin realy. It’s James Brown. Doing a Christmas song. It’s very funky. What more could you want from life?