What to play when you’re sick of ‘Jingle Bells’
By Duncan Fingarson, Columnist
Christmas songs are a holiday staple. Love ’em or hate ’em, we’ve pretty much all heard them. They play at the mall, on the radio, and on CDs at family gatherings. There is a wealth of songs, however, that get basically no air time at the holidays despite being about the holidays. Here are five of my personal favourites, from a variety of sources. Without further ado, and in no particular order, I present:
“Christmas at Ground Zero,” by Weird Al
Originally released back in the ’80s, this song has nothing to do with the more recent “ground zero” attributed to the World Trade Center attack. Instead it’s about imminent nuclear war, which was a much more pressing concern at the time. The song is a bouncy, cheery track about setting up for Christmas while being simultaneously nuked.
“Fishmen,” by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
This song isn’t technically about Christmas, but it is set to the tune of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” and that’s good enough in my books. Released as part of a series of Lovecraft-themed Christmas song parodies, “Fishmen” is my favourite of the lot, although some of the others are pretty good as well. Put a little cosmic horror in your Christmas.
“Fairytale of New York,” by the Pogues
This one gets quite a lot of play in New York, or so I’m told, but I’ve never heard it here. It’s got a bit of a folk feel too it, and features some unconventional lyrics. It’s not supposed to be offensive to anyone, but fair warning: The lyrics in question involve Irish slang for a lazy person. That aside, the juxtaposition of mixed styles and the fact that the song is a duet make it an interesting, and good, choice.
“Christmas Time in Hell,” by Trey Parker
This song, coming to us courtesy of South Park, probably IS intended to be offensive, but it’s South Park, so nobody should be surprised by that. The song follows Satan and the damned as they prepare for the season down in Hell, and is both incredibly funny and incredibly catchy.
“Carol of the Bells,” by various artists
Who loves metal? This guy. “Carol of the Bells” lends itself astoundingly well to symphonic heavy metal, with a few traditional instruments thrown in for good measure. Orion’s Reign, Little V, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra have all done versions of this Christmas classic, and all of them are good. Pick your favourite and rock out.
Honourable mention: The honourable mention goes to Bob and Doug McKenzie of the “Great White North,” for their uniquely Canadian take on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite make the list, because there is no way to make “The Twelve Days of Christmas” not be annoying as hell.