It is once again the season to be jolly, and at your local department store where you will inevitably buy your Christmas presents, it looks like someone has splashed the place with festive cheer, joy and love all over. While the excessive Christmas lights hang from the shop’s ceilings, and the glitter-covered decorations located down every aisle have become a safety hazard, the cherry on top is really the music blasting over the decade-old speakers.
For the millionth time it’s Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” followed by usual offender “Last Christmas” by Wham! – and who could forget the multiple hits by the king of Christmas pop songs, Michael Bublé? For those who want to embrace the festivities but are also looking to escape the season’s overplayed music, there is hope yet – for you, we’ve compiled a list of alternative Christmas tracks to rock out to this Yuletide.
Don’t Shoot Me Santa – The Killers
American alternative rock band The Killers, known for their hit tracks “Mr Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me”, released their song “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” in late 2007. The perfect song for those who aren’t the most festive during the holiday season, this pop-rock anthem tells the story of a psychotic and murderous Santa Claus who is on his way to kill a man for his past misdeeds.
True to the band’s unique punk sound, the song’s upbeat melody, paired with its melancholy lyrics, make it a must-listen during the holidays. Watch the music video to see lead singer Brandon Flowers being kidnapped by a deranged man wearing a Santa costume in the Nevada desert in Las Vegas where the band was originally formed.
Santa Doesn’t Cop Out On Dope – Sonic Youth
A cover of Martin Mull’s 1972 original track “Santa Doesn’t Cop Out On Dope”, Sonic Youth’s version is a playful take on the song that is true to the band’s experimental rock sound. The track begins with a reassuring voice that appears to be appealing to a child audience, building the anticipation that listeners should expect a modern-day Christmas carol.
The lyrics try to reassure kids that Santa Claus is extremely dedicated to his job, working hard to give presents to good boys and girls, all the while not taking any drugs. The band’s interpretation of the song even ends with a cheeky shout-out to the owner of their label, David Geffen, founder of Geffen Records.
Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time) – Pearl Jam
Often credited for having paved the way for the modern-day rock music landscape, renowned American band Pearl Jam is also considered as one of the best-selling artists of all time. In 1991, the group released the track “Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time)” which describes a man feeling sad and lonely during Christmas, preferring to go back to sleep rather than celebrate the holidays.
The song also details how when he was a child, he had always been excited for Christmas Day. The open-ended lyrics of the track have led many fans of the band to speculate that the song has a deeper meaning, perhaps telling the tale of the homeless during the festive season.
Christmas All Over Again - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
As part of the 1992 A Very Special Christmas 2 album which featured multiple acclaimed artists and produced to benefit the Special Olympics, Floridian rock group Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers released their festive track “Christmas All Over Again”. Unlike many of the other songs on the list, this upbeat rock anthem celebrates the season with optimism and hope.
The track is about a typical home gathering during the Christmas holidays, where family members and relatives meet and spend time together with loved ones. The band describes the scene, singing about decorations hung by the fire, mistletoe and children joyously dancing down the street, ending the song with a cheeky Christmas present wish-list of their own.
Alone On Christmas Day – Phoenix
Originally written for American rock band The Beach Boys, “Alone On Christmas Day” was actually part of the group’s 1977 Christmas album that was never formally released. But it wasn’t until 2015 that the song was heard by the public when renowned French indie band Phoenix performed the track in A Very Murray Christmas, a Netflix’s musical comedy film featuring Bill Murray.
While the song describes the feelings of being away from family and loved ones during the holiday season, it also comforts listeners by emphasising that the sadness will pass. Besides the vocal talents of Phoenix, Bill Murray also helps as a backup singer in certain parts of the song, making for a comical and fun play from the original recording.
Cover Credit: Julien Tromeur/Unsplash
Writer | Kristy Or
A fan of indie films and alternative music, Kristy is a writer and producer from Sydney. Tea and coffee are a vital part of her diet.