Now, let's take a look at more recent Christmas rock songs. The genre never really died. But it's gotten a bit more cynical and crabby in recent years. Also, note how many of these came out in the 80s. All the cheesy benefit albums pretty much ensured that. So, first, let's have...
My least Favorite Christmas Rock Song of the 80s:
Various Artists: "Do They Know it's Christmas?" No, they probably don't, nor do they likely give a shit, as we're singing aboutAfrican countries that aren't Christian for the most part. This song is just so self-important, pious, and self-importantly urgent that I want to punch myself in the face whenever I hear it.
Okay, now that that's over...
Christmas Rock Songs of the Late 70s, 80s, 90s, and this Stupid Decade
Run DMC: "Christmas in Hollis". Most of the tracks on A Very Special Christmas are really uninspired. Let's skip U2's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" for example. Run DMC had the crazy idea to actually write a Christmas song for the album and the result was the extremely entertaining "Christmas in Hollis" Queens, where Mom is making chicken and collard greens.
The Sonics "Don't Believe in Christmas": The Sonics are one of the greatest bands to ever come out of the Pacific Midwest anyway, and this song is a treat for anyone who is getting tired of Christmas ads, programming, and other hokum. Well, or anyone who also didn't get anything last year.
Roy Wood and Wizzard: "I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday" Roy Wood was one of those musical prodigies in elaborate makeup who were somewhat common in the 70s. Wizzard actually looked like they wished it could be Halloween everyday. Anyway, I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday is a great song that recalls Phil Spector's best work. Wood wrote a number of really good songs, but this one is now getting its due via a number of remakes. Let the bells ring out for Christmas.
The Waitresses: "Christmas Wrapping". A lot of people really love this 80s new wave Christmas song. I'm not one of them. I just can't get into the flat, lousy vocals. Bah humbug.
The Ramones: "Merry Christmas Baby (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)". The secret to the Ramones is that if you play Beach Boys songs twice as fast they sound like Ramones songs. Most people miss the retro rock'n'roll aspect of the band and focus on the "punk" thing. Here's an original rock song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Phil Spector's Christmas album. I wish they'd play Merry Christmas Baby (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight) on the radio every year.
David Bowie and Bing Crosby: "Little Drummer Boy". When David Bowie shows up at Bing Crosby's house, he's lucky he doesn't get shot. This video is extremely awkward and kitschy, and naturally I love it.
Mariah Carey: "All I Want for Christmas is You". You know that I have a thing for divas, and I root for Mariah Carey, even though her music generally isn't my thing. Here's an exception. This is a great song and video that I enjoy hearing every year in malls and grocery stores. Best of all, Mariah Carey doesn't ululate in this song nearly as much as her other material.
Wham! "Last Christmas". Probably my favorite Christmas song from the 80s, this one is good enough that I sing it every year when it comes on the radio. For those scoring at home, my favorite 80s Christmas song is Last Christmas, my favorite 90s Christmas song is "All I Want for Christmas", and my favorite from this decade, so far, is by the Killers. Oh and here's a really weird Karaoke version that inexplicably combines Last Christmas and jellyfish.
The Pogues and Kristy MacColl: "Fairytale of New York". A really close second for best Christmas song of the 80s, this Pogues tale of failed dreams and Christmas in the drunk tank is probably the only Christmas song with the lyrics "You scumbag, you maggot You cheap lousy faggot Happy christmas your arse I pray God its our last" that can still choke you up.
Madonna: "Santa Baby". Speaking of divas, we've also established that I love Madonna. So it almost feels blasphemous to say that I can't stand this remake of Santa Baby. It's a painfully obvious choice for Madonna and the execution is totally unimaginative.
Fear: "Fuck Christmas". You can do uninspired the other way too. A punk band singing "Fuck Christmas" isn't exactly shocking. I'm going to skip most of the punk Christmas songs which all work on the same misconception that punks + bitching about Christmas = funny.
The Vandals: "Oi to the World". Again, a punk band doing anti-Christmas songs isn't really that clever, but a punk band doing an entire Christmas album of originals like: "Christmas Time for my Penis", "A Gun for Christmas", and "My First Christmas as a Woman"? Well, that's wit!
Eric Idle: "Fuck Christmas". Leave it to Eric Idle to show Fear how to do exactly the same joke and make it clever and funny. Okay, fine, fuck Christmas.
Weird Al Yankovic: "Christmas at Ground Zero". I apparently offended a couple at a Christmas party (who, incidentally, are assholes anyway) by playing this song. They didn't get that the song isn't about 9/11, it's about nuclear war, which is much more seasonal. Ah, fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. It's not really Christmas until I hear Christmas at Ground Zero.
Jingle Cats: "White Christmas". Claire loves this goofy song of cats edited to sound like they're singing Christmas songs. It's an issue in our marriage that we're currently working through.
The Killers: "Don't Shoot Me Santa". Leave it to the Killers to combine Spaghetti Westerns, Christmas songs, 80s romanticism, and pathos into a multi-part song that still manages to be the best Christmas chestnut in years.
Merry Christmas Everybody!