Bored of the same old round of seasonal songs? Here’s our selection of some of the lesser-known and rarely played tunes that will set the Christmas tone
The Fall – Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Nothing says ‘Happy Christmas’ like Mark E Smith shouting into a microphone, right? Ok, perhaps not on paper, but as it turns out, this is much calmer than a lot of The Fall’s offerings, and although the combination of post-punk chaos and Christmas cheer shouldn’t work, it does. Pretty well in fact.
Noel Gallagher – Merry Christmas Everybody
Recorded for the Royle Family Christmas special, this version of the Slade classic is too brilliant to be confined to the TV archives. Noel’s earnest, paired-down interpretation makes this novelty Christmas smash into something altogether more beautiful and, dare we say it, moving.
Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis
Exactly what you’d want RUN DMC with a backing track of jingle bells to sound like. Just listen. You’ll understand. Plus, any song that references macaroni cheese is a winner with us.
Elvis – Blue Christmas
Blue Christmas? What? Don’t question it, it’s ELVIS, and that instantly makes it ok. Lilting and lovely, this confirms that basically, when it comes to Christmas, blue is indeed the new white.
The Kinks – Father Christmas
Yes, the subject matter of this one may be untraditional – Father Christmas gets beaten up by a gang of unruly kids who demand money instead of toys – but Ray Davis’ jolly vocal STILL manages to make it sound upbeat and festive. You’ll be singing “Father Christmas, give us some money” on repeat before you know it… Trust us.
Ramones – Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight tonight)
Despite working with Phil Spector on one of their albums, the Ramones’ Christmas offering never had quite the success of the legendary Spector-produced Ronettes and Darlene Love festive classics. That said, Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight tonight) is short, sweet and incredibly catchy.
Otis Redding – White Christmas
If there’s a more beautiful Christmas song, we’d like to know what it is. All that’s missing is an open fire and bottle of something expensive and sparkly. In our opinion, the most romantic festive ditty going…
Bob Dylan – It Must Be Santa
Rousing accordions and an infectious beat make this jolly offering from Dylan an irresistible soundtrack for some festive tipples. The original version is based on a German drinking song, so it’s no surprise that a few chords in, you feel compelled to reach for the egg nog and rock around the Christmas tree.
Johnny Cash – The Little Drummer Boy
Cash’s velvety country drawl turns this classic carol into a much more serious affair. There’s pretty much no backing (aside from the obvious drum), enabling this version to really showcase one of the most distinctive and dramatic voices of the past century.
She & Him – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
She & Him – actress Zooey Deschanel’s musical side-project, in conjunction with M. Ward – released a whole album of festive songs, and this version of a Judy Garland classic is our favourite. The slower tune, coupled with Zooey’s laid-back and lovely vocal, won’t fail to calm even the rawest of Christmas nerves.