15. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” – Read by Brent Barry and Vladamir Radmonovich
Taken from one of my most prized musical possessions, 2003’s Holidays With The Sonics (which also features Nick Collison, Rashard Lewis, Luke Ridnour, Ray Allen and coach Nate McMillan singing live with the Zion Preparatory Choir), this reading of the Dr. Suess classic is made extra special by the fact that Vladi reads English only slightly better than he plays defense.
14. “The Hanakuh Song” – Adam Sandler
One of Sandler’s best songs from his incredible stint on Saturday Night Live.
“You don’t need deck the halls or jingle bell rock
Cause you can spin the dreidl with Captain Kirk and Mr. spock–both Jewish!”
13. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” – Belle & Sebastian
A tender, irony-free version of one of my favorite traditional Christmas songs.
12. “Daddy’s Drinkin’ Up Our Christmas” – John Guliak
The Loughan Brothers’ John Guliak performs this Commander Cody tale on It’s a Team Mint Xmas Vol. 2, a 2004 compilation from Canada’s best Indie label. Not much color needed here. The title is pretty self explanatory.
11. “So This is Christmas” – The Polyphonic Spree
The Spree’s massive, orchestral nature makes them an easy choice for this John Lennon tune, which features that big, lovely chorus. Taken from 2004 compilation Maybe This Christmas Tree, which also features holiday goodness from The Raveonettes and Pedro the Lion.
10. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” – Asylum Street Spankers
The uniquely odd, yet old fashioned, Austin, Texas group Asylum Street Spankers do a pretty straight version of the great theme song from the 1966 Christmas special How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
9. “Do They Know its Christmas” – Mint Aid (Mint Records All Stars)
The aforementioned Mint Records pulls their talented roster together to perform The Buttless Chaps’ recasting of the 1984 Bob Geldof classic. Precious.
8. “Headcrushing’ Yuletide Sing-along” – Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors
Taken from my favorite Christmas album of all time, this medley is just traditional enough to sound like tasteful, straight-ahead holiday cheer when played as background music at your December gathering. Just hope your guests don’t listen closely enough to hear that it’s actually a drunken mess of Mojo originals and subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) reworkings of holiday classics. If you’re having decent people over, be sure to shut it off before “We Three Kings” (“…of Orient are, drinking whiskey in a nude bar) or the album closing “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which alludes to immoral acts with Blitzen.
7. “Father Christmas” – The Kinks
The best original Christmas rock song.
6. “Alan Parson’s in a Winter Wonderland” – Grandaddy
What if you built a snowman and he turned in to studio whiz Alan Parsons,” asks Grandaddy on Jeepster Records’ 2000 compilation It’s a Cool, Cool Christmas.
“He sings a love song
The production’s right on
Alan Parsons in a winter wonderland.”
5. “Baby Please Come Home” – Darlene Love
The standout track on Phil Specter’s exceptional 1963 release A Christmas Gift for You, which featured many of the day’s biggest Motown stars performing secular holiday songs through his patented “Wall of Sound” production.
4. “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues
I’ve never been to New York City over the holidays, but am pretty sure this British/Irish cult band has perfectly encapsulated the spirit of it circa 1980. Two immigrants share a drunken reverie in city lock-up while Sinatra croons to the Macy’s crowd outside.
“You’re a bum
You’re a punk
You’re an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed”
3. “Christmas in Hollis” – Run DMC
Perhaps the most recent addition to the canon of classic holiday pop songs, Run DMC’s 1990 original transcends genre and should be considered alongside recordings by Crosby, Cole and Specter in this category.
“Rhymes so loud and proud you hear it
Its Christmas time and we got the spirit”
2. “364” – Murder City Devils
A perfectly gut-wrenching look at what Santa does when it’s not Christmas – drink himself in and out of depression.
“St. Nicholas, St. Nicholas, at the North Pole
364 days spent all alone
Take off your boots, pour a drink
Try not to cry, try not to think.”
1. “Santa Stole My Baby” – The Mistreaters
A little-known track by Milwaukee garage rockers who would later record for legendary Bellingham label Estrus Records, this perfect slice of dirty holiday rock was taken from the Surprise Package series on Flying Bomb records. Because everyone needs to fly their devil horns on December 25.
Matt’s Favorite Christmas Albums
4. Charlie Brown Christmas OST – Vince Guaraldi
3. Songs for Christmas – Sufjan Stevens
2. A Christmas Gift for You – Phil Specter & Friends
1. Horny Holidays – Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors