Christmas Songs That Don’t Suck

For Your Holiday Driving and/or Listening Pleasure

Title says it all, really.  There are some bad, bad, BAD Christmas out there but like a gold miner panning for, well, gold, some nuggets are filtered out of all the mud and dirt:

[Photo Credit: Tim Roney/Getty Images]

“Linus and Lucy” – I wanted to pick an original composition from Charlie Brown Christmas so I went with this.

“Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues – For the past two years, I have been writing an article on why this is the greatest Christmas song of all time but just take my word for it because I’m probably never gonna finish it. At any rate, sadness, loneliness, desperation, and regret are a bigger part of Christmas for some people than Santa and Frosty and all that other crap, but underneath it all there is still that thin layer of hope and cheer shimmering through the cold weather, argumentative family members, and crass commercialism.

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love and “Sleigh Ride” by the Ronettes – From Phil Spector’s Christmas album; I love the whole album so picking only two is a challenge. This album almost (but not really) makes up for Spector being a murdering scumbag.

“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon – A bit overplayed but a good song nonetheless, better than McCartney’s Christmas song (I refuse to name it) by leaps and bounds.

“Mr. Frosty Man” by Sufjan Stevens – Sufjan has 37869 Christmas songs but this is the one I always go back to. Try and catch the ridiculously violent claymation music video (linked to in the title) where Frosty helps a boy fend off a pack of bloodthirsty zombies.

“Jesus Christ” by Big Star – No idea if this is truly a Christmas song or even about Jesus but it’s good and you should listen to it anyway.

“Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses – I don’t need to justify this song being on here.  One of the few songs that I don’t mind having stuck in my head all day.

“Father Christmas” by the Kinks – Hilariously bratty.

Home Alone Theme Song – Nostalgia entry.  I’ve probably seen this movie at least fifty times.

“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)” by Ramones – Great little tune.  Much better than most of the other “punk” Christmas songs out there.

“In Dulci Jubilo” by Mike Oldfield  – Sounds like something midgets dressed like court jesters would be dancing around to at the Renaissance Fair but somehow it also fits into the Christmas genre.

“O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night” and “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra – I’ve always wanted to see them live but have never gotten around to it.  I know the second tune is the standard but the first is overblown Power Metal Christmas wankery at it’s finest and I actually prefer it.  Both are here for posterity.

“2000 Miles” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by the Pretenders – Both of these songs create that weird Christmas “cold but warm” feeling/environment, where you’re both freezing your ass off but are still toasty and warming your hands in front of a fireplace (or flaming barrel of trash) with your cocoa or flask whatever.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Merry Christmas Baby” by Bruce Springsteen – If you have to ask yourself why these two songs are on here, then you don’t know me very well.  I replaced the first song’s more famous version with another from 1978 where he tells a great intro story of drinking at a bar on Christmas Eve and thinking all of this Santa stuff is just bunk.  On an semi-related note, I’ve sat at a bar on Christmas Eve and it’s not all that bad.  I still have family to go to but some people don’t, so maybe coming to a bar and seeing others that feel the same is better than sitting at home drinking alone with no Christmas tree or presents or working central heating unit.

“Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo” – “Flush him down, but he’s never gone / His smell and his spirit lingers on”

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole – Following on the heels of a song about an anthropomorphic piece of crap is the classiest and best version of this standard.

“Step Into Christmas” by Elton John – Elton just seems like he’s having a ball recording, singing, and performing this song.  A quote I’ll forever associate with this song is when a friend of mine said that Elton’s platforms from the music video looked they had “punji sticks” on them, which I find hilarious to this day.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey – Sigh.  This song holds some magical, bewitching power that casts a spell on you while listening to it.  You want to hate it and change the station but your hands are paralyzed by some strange, uncanny force that lasts the entire four minutes and one second.  Extreme forms of this spell include forcing individuals to sing along, vocal range (or lack thereof) be damned.

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
“Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams
“White Christmas” by the Drifters
“It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas” by Johnny Mathis
Five non-offensive standards to round this thing out.  By the time Christmas rolls around, you’ll probably be sick of them but for that last week in November (and first week appropriate for Christmas music listening) you don’t mind hearing these tunes.

Oh, hey, a Spotify playlist!


Written by Mark

A gentleman and a scholar.