Thanks to holiday-themed compilations like A Very Special Christmas and Little Steven's Christmas A Go-Go, we often hear our favorite modern artists putting their spin on holiday classics. But for those who are tired of forcing Mariah Carey's eight-octave "All I Want For Christmas" on their family-friendly-by-necessity playlists, we're here to give you a few more options.
The following songs are courtesy of artists who seem the least likely to tackle Christmas carols, featuring that colorful, borderline bizarre, je ne sais quoi that we appreciate to help ward off the occasional lackluster of the standard holiday mix-tape.
10. The Dandy Warhols, "Little Drummer Boy": The Portland-based rockers seem like the last band who'd cover a Christmas carol, but it seems they might tote more holiday cheer than we'd expect; last year, the Dandys performed a 4-night stint of Italian-themed Christmas shows for their Northwest fans.
9. Julian Casablancas, "I Wish It Was Christmas Today": Last year, the Strokes front man released this comical cover of the hilarious SNL skit starring Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan and Chris Kattan. Casablancas even performed the song with Fallon and the Roots on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - but, unlucky for us, he bypassed the festive Christmas sweater and stuck with his trademark leather.
8. Weezer, Christmas With Weezer: Possibly the most bizarre part of Weezer's Christmas-carol covers album is that the songs don't sound bizarre at all--in fact, they're pretty good covers, as far as holiday-themed tunes go. The band's 2008 exclusive holiday record includes their takes on such seasonal classics as "The First Noel" and "O Holy Night." Translation: Corny, but still better than Weezer's last two records.
7. Soul Coughing, "Suzy Snowflake": Appearing on the band's B-Sides, Rarities and Live Cuts compilation, this bouncy childlike song was written by Sid Tepper and Roy Bennett and made famous by "Come On-a My House" singer Rosemary Clooney in 1951.
6. Porky Pig, "Blue Christmas": You didn't think we'd leave out Porky Pig, did you? This song actually has rather mysterious roots; it's reported the original recording took place during an open mic performance by Denny Brownlee, whose parody gained such laughs that it was released and he was dubbed "Porky Pig." When Warner Brothers complained of possible copyright infringement, Brownlee changed his name to the suiting "Seymour Swine." It's since become a holiday favorite, Porky Pig's stylistic stuttering and all.
5. John Denver & the Muppets, "The 12 Days of Christmas," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," etc.: In 1979, folk mainstay John Denver joined Jim Henson's Muppets for a Christmas television special, singing such holiday classics as "Deck the Halls" and "Little Saint Nick" with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and friends. The soundtrack was subsequently released, for those keen to hear the Muppets' renditions of holiday staples.
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4. They Might Be Giants, "O Tannenbaum": Originally released as a 1993 holiday-themed 7", TMBG re-released this surprisingly imposing version of "O Tannenbaum" on their 2001 Holidayland compilation. The band, often known for their idiosyncratic inclination, downplays their characteristic quirk on this track and delivers a swaying, AM-radio throwback take on a well-known Christmas carol.
3. The Decemberists, "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)": A cover of John Denver's madcap holiday song, this rare and hopelessly depressing track appears on the 2007 holiday compilation Alternative Rock Xmas.
2. Ween, "Silent Night": The droll duo continues to march to the beat of their own drummer on this holiday cover, recorded for the 1994 Elektra compilation, A Merry Little Christmas. Adapting a curious accent of sorts along the way, they add that trademark Ween quirk to a yuletide classic. "Christ the Savior is born," Gene sings, but not without adding, "...I think... I'm not sure, actually."
1. Steve Martin & Paul Simon, "Silver Bells": Rumor has it this recording was originally intended for a 1980 Saturday Night Live sketch. Piano man Billy Joel claimed in an interview 20 years later that he in fact played piano on the spoof track, and that it had been recorded under the influence of some holiday libations and never intended for SNL. Nevertheless, the carol begins innocently enough, but becomes side-splittingly funny when Steve Martin describes Christmas as a "time for parties at the office with egg nog and vodka and telling your boss what you really think of him while he gets a perfect Xerox of your wife's rear end."