This list was damn near impossible to compile. The criteria: original holiday songs recorded after 1990. There aren't many tunes that qualify, and of the ones that do, few of them are worth listening to. Like fake marshmallow froth atop a cup of instant cocoa, here's the crème de la crème of the less-than-lame holiday songs.
5. Savatage, "Dead Winter Dead": Hails from the 1995 metal album of the same name, which also spawned the overplayed hit "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)." The latter is now performed by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a side project of Savatage vocalist Jon Oliva. "Dead Winter Dead" rocks harder than "Christmas Eve," and its gloomy lyrics are great for Scrooges.
]4. Killola, "Santa Give Me Something I Can Use": This jingle is suitable for adult boys and girls who prefer naughtiness to niceties. Indie pop/punk band Killola makes a musical wishlist of gifts including "dollar bills," "lots of pills," and "free booze," all of which are more useful than new socks or an argyle sweater. Available for download here, and, in the spirit of giving, the band's entire 2008 album I Am the Messer can be downloaded for free on its MySpace page.
3. Adam Sandler, "The Chanukah Song": You didn't think this list was only about Christmas, did you? It would not be complete without Sandler's ode to the Festival of Lights. The song cleverly reveals Jewish celebrity trivia, but its crowning achievement is the immortal lyric that rhymes "Chanukah" with "marijuanica." Classic.
2. Raveonettes, "Come On Santa": With the Ravonettes' recent Wishing You a Rave Christmas EP buzzing cheerily in your earbuds, you can scrap Phil Spector's treatment of "Happy Xmas (War is Over)." The Danish duo produce a modern, fuzzy wall of sound that renders obsolete the John Lennon/Yoko Ono single and its annoying choir of kids. Sharin Foo and Suni Rose Wagner are as lovely as a couple of sugarplum fairies, so visions of them dancing in one's head is an added bonus.
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1. Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, "Winter Song": From new compilation album The Hotel Café Presents Winter Songs, this duet is a quiet jewel. The voices of Bareilles and Michaelson harmonize simply and purely with the acoustic accompaniment. Hopefully radio stations won't play this one to death.
Stocking Stuffer: Muse, "Fury"
Ok, ok, so this isn't a holiday-themed song. But Muse recently offered a live video of it on its Web Site, and this YouTube version calls it "Muse's Christmas Gift". That's a close enough connection, right? The song is not on any of the band's studio albums, so the live recordings are like little presents...tied up in heavy, gnarled little bows. - Linda Leseman