Have a very merry and refreshing Christmas with these festive tunes
It’s that time of year again when things start getting awfully festive. You might be sick of the usual Christmas songs having had to listen to them blaring out of speakers in high street shops since October, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in the spirit for the holiday with some tunes. These alternative Christmas songs, be they original works or covers of classics, are bound to give you the urge to wrap some presents, hang some mistletoe and deck the halls. Put these on your Crimbo playlists and have a very merry and refreshing Christmas, without an “it’s Chriiiiistmaaaas!” in sight.
Bored of ‘Jingle Bells’ and the same god awful Christmas songs every time you walk into a shop or turn on the radio? Find salvation with our pick of 30 Yuletide tracks to sooth ears. First up, it’s Cee-Lo Green and The Muppets. Listen here
Paul McCartney has recorded a special festive recording of ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)’. It’s no Nat King Cole but it’s worth a gander. Listen here
The Killers’ seventh annual Christmas song was recorded during down-time on their recent UK tour. The track features singer/songwriter Ryan Pardey reprising his role as the song’s bad Santa. Listen here
The angelic vocals and shimmering chimes of Summer Camp with ‘Christmas Wrapping’ certainly makes the annual commercial fest slightly more bearable. Listen here
Stepping up the party is this drunken-karaoke-stomper that shakes it up like a fistful of holly in the face. Minus points for The Strokes’ head honcho, however, for not wearing a Santa hat on the single sleeve. Listen here
A shimmery treat taken from Steven’s must-hear Christmas album. Hushed vocals and plinking strings transform the carol classic into an unexpectedly sublime masterpiece. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist
As alternative Noel-time anthems go, this is arguably the star atop the tree. Taken from the Minnesota band’s Christmas album, it was released as a gift to fans in 1999. Listen here
Poly, the DayGlo heroine of playfully serious punk, made an unexpected festive return with this twisted true tale of a serial killer dressed as Santa Claus. Remixer Kahn bludgeoned the reggae-pop original into a glitchy, 8-bit spangled whomper. Listen here
Forget the Mud version you’ve heard at a thousand dismal office parties, this twinkling rendition from the Greenwich indie poppers breathes beautiful new life into the track. Listen here
For anyone aged over 30, Christmas really was better in the 80s. But don’t be sad. Jump around to this cheesy-riffed Yuletide bouncer replete with ‘hallelujah!’ choral vocals instead. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist
If you’re so misanthropic that the slightest prospect of Christmas cheer turns your stomach like a rancid mince pie, then beware this yuletide love-in. Sunny harmonies, slushy lyrics and sleigh bells abound. Listen here
With a Chrimbo song this delightful, there’ll surely be no lack of woolly-jumpered boys n’ girls queuing beneath the mistletoe to offer sloppy-snogged thanks. Listen here
A crooning paean to missing loved ones. Aw. Listen here
Undisputed genius Mark E Smith sneers his way through the classic carol. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist.
Extra points for one of them wearing a Santa hat in the video. More still for them choosing a Fleetwood Mac-related song to cover (it’s a Lindsey Buckingham song from 1981). An absolute must-hear. Listen here
Befitting the law of indie which states that fun and joy comes but once a year (that’ll be Glastonbury) The Killers recorded a world-weary Xmas song. Listen here
One of the most beautiful wintertime songs you could ever hear. A tearjerker wrapped up in Christmassy chimes and delicate piano chords, topped off by frontman James Allan’s soulful Glaswegian vocals. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist.
Multiple levels here: a child discovers Santa isn’t real and that adult life is about hard work. A thudding electro fix topped by evocative Scandinavian vocals. Listen here
Double points awarded! Not only was this a Christmas single for Pearl Jam, but the chorus actually references Christmas time as Eddie Vedder growls “When I was kid, oh how magic it seemed.” Still, cheer up, guys. Listen here
From his much-loved album ‘Songs For Christmas’, an LP as crucial in December as mulled wine and Argos, comes this super-tender highlight. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist.
REM, Joey Ramone, and of course Mariah have taken on the Phil Spector classic, but it’s Death Cab’s lethargic take that really hits home. Listen here
A high energy party-stomper of a track with a sense of humour too. “It’s Christmas time again, it’s time to be nice to the people you can’t stand.” Arf. Listen here
Not strictly a Christmas song – in fact the the droning lyrics don’t reference Santa, holly or Argos once (“Now that I’m so sad and not quite right, I could dance all night”). But in due to the wintry title and the heartfelt sounds that make it a magical listen. Listen here
If anyone’s going to get curmudgeonly it might as well be the archest pop practitioners. This grinchy ode to wishing it all away sees them playing spoilsport in the most joyous way possible. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist.
The East 17 anthem wasn’t a Christmas track per se, but has been co-opted by the festive crowd, and electro shoegazer Maps does the impossible in making a great song greater. Listen here
Billy Corgan at his most twee: “We watch the children playing… Presents are wrapped up, Christmastime has come.” So no ‘Starla’-esque howling guitar riffs then, just the Pumpkins all loved up after too much mulled wine. Your mum’ll love it. Listen here
Mike Skinner and co celebrate the season of Jesus with this heavy-on-the-sleighbells number. “It’s the season to be lonely… Break ups are way more frequent at this time of year, but I don’t want it to be me.” Not that cheery then. Listen here
An alternative Christmas classic, from the angelic vocals to the echoing, jangly guitar strumming. Magical. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist.
The South Carolina band summon the Christmas spirit with this George Michael Yuletide fail-safe that sounds more like Green Day. No bad thing. Listen here
Yuletide tear-jerker with a surreal video that stares forlornly into a pint glass. Sorrowful, but tender. Listen here
Crunching punk riffs and a peace offering of a chorus, from The Ramones’ 1989 album ‘Brain Drain’, the last to feature bassist Dee Dee.
Just call The Killers kings of Christmas already. On this one of their many festive numbers, they’ve gone with an unexpected cowboy twist. Why? Who knows. If you’ve ever wanted to see this lot at a seasonal ho-down with some dancing robots (yeah, we don’t get it either), then look no further. Listen/watch the video here
When all the holiday stress finally gets to us, we can always find comfort in The Waitresses’ classic holiday song. This cover’s pretty close to the original – down to that lovely little sax solo midway through – but it’s a good’un. Listen here
The first four minutes of this sound sound like a modern-day T.Rex gone Chrimbo. The last four minutes (which transition in after a short jingle bell break) sound all nutso and alien. In a good way. Listen here
Cutesy duo Summer Camp have meshed together Macca’s ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ with Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, making the ultimate indie Xmas tune. Listen to the songs as a Spotify Playlist.