The Ultimate Alternative Christmas Playlist

The Ultimate Alternative Christmas Playlist

Christmas is just around the corner—but you probably already knew that. How could you not? The moment December dawns, it’s thrust into our faces in all its tinsel clad, fairy light glistening glory. Oh, and of course, there are the Christmas songs.

Wherever you go, the same old cheesy jingles are blaring out of car windows, shop speakers, restaurants tannoys, and pretty much everywhere you could possibly think of, on repeat. After a while (about an hour) it becomes soul-destroying. And, the worst part is, you can hear it coming but there’s little you can do to drown it out (unless you spend the whole of December in a cupboard with earplugs in, or something like that).

But, if you’re already sick and tired of the likes of Slade, Wham!, and Bing Crosby clogging up your ears and you need a break, never fear, because our ultimate Christmas playlist is here to soothe your alternative soul.

Let’s dive in.

The Stooges - No Fun

Okay, this particular song wasn’t released at Christmas, nor was it intended for Christmas. But, for anyone in search of a truly evocative festive vibe, one that will send you gyrating around the Christmas tree in true Iggy style (egg nog or wine in hand), ‘No Fun’ is a surefire festive hit. The sentiment itself, at Christmas, becomes an anthem against the monotony of Christmas traditions while serving as an all-singing, all-dancing party track to pull out of the day on the big day. A proud addition to our alternative Christmas playlist.

Squeeze – Christmas Day

From the London lads that gave the world ‘Up the Junction’ and ‘Cool For Cats’, Squeeze’s Christmas Day is a dramatic, stripped back, and melancholic track that tells an alternative nativity tale in a way only this band can. It’s one of those songs to play mid-morning after the festive breakfast but before the boozy lunch, a tune to savour in the warmth of an armchair (a nice alternative to the usual Mariah Carey adlibs).

The Bellrays – Mary Christmas

Living by the motto, ‘Soul is the preacher, punk is the teacher’, The Bellrays are one of the most authentic rock & roll bands out there on the circuit today. The band’s unique brand of soul-infused punk-rock is almost otherworldly and their Christmas track, ‘Mary Christmas’ (released under the alternative band name, Lisa and The Lips), is a real livewire. You will move, you will groove, you will rejoice, and you will play this track several times over the festive season. But, it won’t get tiresome, like a fine wine, ‘Mary Christmas’ will mature: it will sound sweeter, grittier, and more raucous with every listen. 

The Fall – (We Wish You) a Protein Christmas

Odd, offbeat, subversive, ear-melting, anthemic, and downright hypnotic, this alternative Christmas tune is pretty much everything you’d expect from The Fall. Rather than putting on Xmas anthems volume one million during the Christmas meal, whack this on the speaker and watch your relatives recoil as you eat your trimmings and slug your grog in smug alternative satisfaction. Worlds away from ‘Jingle Bells’ or ‘Santa Tell Me’.

Emporer Penguin - Erotic Christmas (Home for the Holograms)

As you may have gathered, this is no typical Christmas song title. Boasting sprinklings of Kraftwerk, shavings of narrative trip-hop and a whole host of off the wall ambient sounds, this head-nodding little number will perk you up post-lunch. If you’re looking to kick back while staving off the afternoon slump, this will make an essential addition to your Christmas day jukebox, and we’re proud to feature it on our list.

Angry Snowmans – Drinking Rum & Egg Nog

This potent punk act from British Columbia serves up a slice of Christmas debauchery with the track ‘Drinking Rum & Egg Nog’. A tune all about festive intoxication, this punchy little arrangement will get you back onto your feet and rocking come Christmas night. And, as the band describes itself as "disgruntled, displaced Elves of the North Pole who are telling the world about Santa's abusive practices by playing classic punk rock songs," you’re in for a treat. Get the rum and egg nog at the ready.

Now that we’ve covered all of the featured tracks from our ultimate alternative Christmas playlist, let’s take a quick glance at some of the other subversive festive anthems that have made the cut…

  • Margo Guryan – I Don’t Intend To Spend Christmas Without You: A forlorn yet spritely ode to festive heartbreak from the velvety vocals of one of New York’s finest singer-songwriters.
  • Silk Worm – Merry Christmas: An alternative indie Christmas jam from a beloved alternative indie band.
  • The Futureheads – Christmas Was Better in the 80s: A fine effort from the punchy post-punk-style rockers, this offers a nostalgic glimpse of Xmas times past, with pomp!
  • Summer Camp – Christmas Wrapping: With hints of jingle bells laced into its fabric, this jaunty tune from Summer Camp offers a sweet alternative spin on the traditional Christmas anthem.

Okay, there you have it: our definitive rundown of alternative Christmas songs. Well, this is merely a taster because if you’d like to experience the full playlist in all of its ramshackle, offbeat festive glory, you can check it out here on YouTube.

As merry as it can be, we know that Christmas is a mixed bag. So, whoever you are or whatever you’re doing, we hope your festivities bring you contentment and our alternative song choices give you a break from the usual seasonal noise.

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