"Baby Jesus, born to rock..."
Amidst the time of year when we're bombarded with cliché holiday tunes and trite Christmas-carol covers, Rocks Off will now take time to appreciate a few original nontraditional takes on festive songs. Whether they're dismal adaptations of holiday malaise, tales of comic relief, or simply uncharacteristic of the artist, we value anything that successfully breaks up the monotony of "Jingle Bells."
10. Frightened Rabbit, "It's Christmas So We'll Stop": Front man Scott Hutchison delivers rare optimism on this 2008 track, displaying a promising hope for the holiday season. "Forget the names I called you on Christmas Eve/ In fact forget the entire year... I'll protect you, I promise I will/ And the rest of our lives will be just like Christmas."
9. Sufjan Stevens, "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever": A subdued recount of a less-than-perfect Christmas, Stevens sings "Our father yells, throwing the gifts in the wood stove... Silent night / Holy night... Nothing feels right." Leave it to Sufjan to temper holiday cheer with lyrics so depressing.
8. Kanye West, "Christmas in Harlem": Released just earlier this week, this holiday track features "Cam, Vado, Jimmy, Pusha, Big Sean, Cyhi, Teyana Taylor and Musiq" (according to Kanye's Twitter). With a whopping ten verses, Kanye and co. cover myriad yuletide topics, including trips to the mall and some adult-themed analogies of egg nog and hot chocolate.
7. Ryan Adams, "Hey Parker, it's Christmas": Inspired by his then-girlfriend, actress Parker Posey, Adams delivers quite the juxtaposition on this 2003 B-side. "Ring-a-ding-ding, sleigh bells ring," he sings, against an otherwise gloomy piano-driven melody.
6. Flaming Lips, "Christmas at the Zoo": This Clouds Taste Metallic track is categorical Flaming Lips: Equal parts weird and likable. "There wasn't any snow on Christmas Eve / I knew what I should do / I thought I'd free the animals all locked up at the zoo," Wayne Coyne sings, as he's joined by a festive sleigh bell accompaniment.
5. The Vandals/No Doubt, "Oi to the World": The Vandals' goofy punk anthem is the title track of the band's 1996 tongue-in-cheek holiday album. It was covered by No Doubt on 2003 compilation album, Everything in Time, as well as A Very Special Christmas 3.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
4. Ramones, "Merry Xmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)": The disparity between Joey Ramone's gangly demeanor and this holiday tune is awfully entertaining, as he professes the simple wish of anyone who has ever entered the holiday season amidst a dysfunctional relationship: "I don't want to fight tonight."
3. Badly Drawn Boy, "Donna and Blitzen": This holiday song appears on the soundtrack to the 2002 film About a Boy, a charming adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel.
2. Eels, "Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas": Jingle bells open this speedy sanguine track, pierced by reverbed guitars and the comical proclamation of "Baby Jesus, born to rock."
1. Smashing Pumpkins, "Christmastime": Perhaps the most conventional of our unconventional holiday songs, the mere presence of Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan's trademark nasally croon alone makes this A Very Special Christmas 3 track nontraditional.