Whether it’s carollers merrily humming away in parks or that maniacally jolly jingle on high rotation in your local Coles, the Christmas themed song is almost universally a terrible one. This is objective fact and anyone who says otherwise is mentally unhinged and should be avoided at all costs.
That being said, while Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells make me want to stab my eardrums out with sharpened candy canes, there are a few diamonds out there if you manage to wrangle the aux chord from your whisky-breathed uncle at Christmas lunch.
1. “Fairytale Of New York” – The Pogues Feat. Kirsty MacColl
This one starts off as a slow ballad with Shane McGowan crooning the story of a man being thrown in the drunk tank on Christmas eve. Then, in a fashion only possible for the Irish, it transforms into an incredibly catchy ditty, full of flutes, violins and crude drunken lyrics like: You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy faggot / Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it's our last. What’s not to love?
2. “2000 miles” – The Pretenders
This is for the more sentimental types. The Pogues and Run The Jewels might not be the most family-friendly seasonal tunes, but this is one that will have even your mother-in-law nodding her head in rhythmic approval. A (slightly depressing) fun fact: this one was written in memory of their guitarist who had passed away the previous year, making it a bit deeper than the “I miss you, it’s Christmas” lyrics are letting on.
3. “Christmas in Harlem” – Kanye West Feat. Teyana Taylor, Cyhi the Prynce, Pusha T, Big Sean, Jim Jones, Cam'ron, Vado, Musiq Soulchild
This track is as smooth as you think you are after you’ve knocked back a few at your work Christmas party and decide it's finally time to get your groove on with the hottie from HR. Kanye and Ko. bring the goods with a song that is equal parts ghetto and yuletide joy. Being a rap song it has plenty of naughty words, so make sure to blast it just as everyone sits down to cut the ham.
Kanye West didn't share this one on YouTube because he hates Christmas (probably).
4. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” – John Lennon
While McCartney was the master of optimistic pop melody, Lennon has always been the soul of the song writing duo. It's both a Christmas song and a scathing critique of the Vietnam war, so play it to piss off your racist grandad or as way to curry favour with your self-righteous inner-city friends.
5. “A christmas f**king miracle” – Run the Jewels
Ya boys from Brooklyn/Atlanta got your back with this bass-heavy banger. It has almost nothing to do with Christmas as far as I can tell from the lyrics, which is totally fine. The video features Killer Mike dressed as Scrooge, El-P recreating embarrassing family Christmas photos and a mysterious guitarist belting out a solo in the middle of a snow-covered street. Who cares if they don’t sing about fucking pine trees or eggnog or whatever Christmas-y nonsense people pretend to like in December?