Ever since Rage Against The Machine finally raged successfully against a machine – albeit a machine as irrelevant as X Factor’s automatic stranglehold on the Christmas Number One – there’s been a bullish and defiant attitude to the indie rock Christmas single. More credible acts have been donning the tinsel scarf and mince pie-eating grin and getting their Slade on, and this year seems to be the year of the amusingly offbeat collaboration. Here’s the 2015 indie Christmas selection box…
PHOENIX AND BILL MURRAY
‘Alone On Christmas Day’
Sofia Coppola’s Netflix Christmas special A Very Murray Christmas – a comedy about Bill Murray trying to get a spectacular festive party together when New York is in seasonal lockdown – is a who’s who of whoever they could cobble together. Miley Cyrus, Jenny Lewis, Michael Cera, Chris Rock, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Jason Schwartzman all feature, and French rockers Phoenix (whose Thomas Mars is married to Coppola) have recorded a song called ‘Alone On Christmas Day’ with Murray for the film. The track has yet to be premiered but chances are it won’t exactly be ‘Rocking Around The Christmas Tree’.
YOKO ONO AND THE FLAMING LIPS
‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’
Last year, Yoko and The Flaming Lips teamed up to re-record ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ for an Amazon Prime compilation ‘All Is Bright’. It sounded like the lights coming up at the end of an office party only for everyone to realise they’re somehow on Saturn. And this year they’re putting it out as a single, backed with their collaboration on ‘Atlas Eats Christmas’, which is the sound of Santa stuck in the K-hole.
KYLIE MINOGUE AND IGGY POP
Kylie’s forthcoming Xmas album is a veritable Very Murray Christmas of guest stars. James Corden joins her on ‘Only You’, Chris Martin has written ‘Everyday’s Like Christmas’ for her and Frank Sinatra makes an appearance on ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’, despite being well dead. But perhaps the biggest eye-opener will be her cover of The Waitresses’ ‘Christmas Wrapping’ which features a guest spot from, oh yes, Iggy Pop. Insurance ads dried up, Ig? Sadly, ‘Christmas Wrapping’ isn’t available to listen to online yet, so you’ll have to make do with the abomination below.
‘Christmas Without A Prayer’
“As the tradition has been in Sparks, every 41 years marks the time to share an ode to Christmas,” claim the art rock legends and so, 41 years after ‘Thank God It’s Not Christmas’ appeared on ‘Kimono My House’, here’s their second festive ode, a teaser video for which suggests a twinkly trad fancy, but will probably turn into an ironic synthpop mini-opera about religious hypocrisy a couple more seconds in.
Written on Norah Jones’ piano in New York and premiered at a 2011 show curated by Lou Reed, The Courteeners’ Christmas single should sound like it’s a million miles from northern Britain, but Liam Fray can’t help injecting it with a dose of Rochdale sourness. “Winter wonderland,” he muses, lost in a fluffy scene of snowy strings and earnest balladeer piano, “it looks beautiful on a postcard/It’s bloody annoying after a day”.
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Since 2006, The Killers have released a Christmas single every year to support the (RED) charity, verging from the sublime (‘¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!’, ‘’Christmas In LA’) to the CBeebies-worthy (‘The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball’, ‘Joel, The Lump Of Coal’). This year’s song is yet to be revealed, but the band have been teasing it on Twitter. “I had this crazy dream that involved candy canes and Richard Dreyfuss. Is that weird?” they wrote, suggesting either another star-studded but surreal video or a song called ‘Santa Jaws Is Coming To Town’.
‘Half The World Away’
John Lewis turned it into a twinkly, coy-girl vom-fest (as usual), but Oasis’ Royle Family theme will undoubtedly be the biggest indie Xmas hit of 2015. Sorry.