20 Dec 2017

An anthology of alternative Christmas songs

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:10 pm on 20 December 2017
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Photo: Creative Commons

Self-confessed 'Christmas music nerd' Russell McMurray sent us a list of what he reckons are the best alternative Christmas songs.

Skip to Spotify playlist.

He'd heard Jesse discussing the origins of Christmas carols, and reckoned it was 'interesting, but not very rock n roll'.

Here's what Russel had to say:

"I'm ashamed to say that I'm a Christmas music nerd. For the last ten years, I've spent a good deal of November trawling through music releases to try and find Christmas music that I could stomach.

"The end result is an annual mixtape that I send to my friends. Most continue to think that this is a bizarre and pointless activity, yet they send Christmas cards.

"Anyway, here are a few recommendations that might help you at this delicate time of year."

Jesse played one of his selections on the radio: Bahamas - 'Christmas Must Be Tonight' (Listen below)

And here are the rest of Russell's picks:


The thing about Xmas songs is that, mostly, they're covers. And like all covers, there are those that are lacklustre and which show little effort and imagination.  But, like haiku, the structure can bring out the best in people.

For example, here's a version of 'We Three Kings' that David Lynch would be proud of...

What about 'Winter Wonderland' with a mariachi band...

Check out the guitar on this version of 'Blue Christmas'...

Parodies and Comedy

Oh, the fun!

O Little Town of Bethlehem via 'House of the Rising Sun'.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in the style of Elvis Costello (Radio, Radio, if you were wondering).

There's also a prolific sub-genre of xmas songs done Beatles-style. For example,' White Christmas' via 'Ticket to Ride'.


And then there are the genuine xmas originals.  Mostly songs about reflection, the passing of time, loss and family.  It's just that time of year.

If you want super smokey...

Swampy blues...

Shoegaze. BTW, this song has a great line...
"This year's been black and blue,
but we're alright,
and this Christmas could be white for me and you"
(which sounds a lot better in the original Scottish).

#metoo @ xmas.  Heartbreaking if you think too hard about the lyrics.

And possibly the best Xmas song of all time. Tthis cover is better than the original, of course)

Listen to Bahamas - 'Christmas Must Be Tonight'

Russell has put together a Christmas playlist on Spotify:

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