Everybody loves a good Christmas song. There’s nothing better for getting into the festive spirit than an old fashioned sing-along. The following list gives a rundown (in no particular order) of 5 songs which will fill listeners with Christmas cheer – and, best of all, every one can be found under the broad umbrella of alternative music.
No Use for a Name – Fairytale of New York
Scene veterans No Use For A Name are well known for their infectious blend of punk rock with a pop sensibility. Having been around for 20 years they’re well established and are still touring to this day. This song, a cover of The Pogues‘ original, can be found on the 1999 album More Betterness! and is an excellent example of how to do a punk rock cover version.
Tilt vocalist Cinder Block lends her vocal talent to the track, creating a raw sound and lyrical interplay with NUFAN front-man Tony Sly. Tight instrumentation and an overall fun-as-hell feeling makes this track a must this Christmas.
Acceptance – Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
Yes, it’s this song. Covered over and over again by innumerable artists. Does it really deserve a place in the top 5? Well, one great reason for its inclusion is the band performing it. Criminally underrated, Acceptance split up back in 2006.
The persistent acoustic backing riff, coupled with the souring vocals of Jason Vena and use of a choir make this not only a great cover, but also a fine homage to one of the greatest Christmas songs ever written. The track can be found on the 2003 compilation ‘Santa Cause: It’s A Punk Rock Christmas’.
Copeland – Do You Hear What I Hear?
Not one of the most well known Christmas tunes, but it really is one of the best; particularly this superb rendition by Copeland. From the poignant use of electronic voice effects to the elegant backing vocals and sampled drum beat – the song soars into the ethereal.
A touching track, it’s perfect for capturing the snug and cosy feeling that the Christmas season so often brings. The track is included on the 2004 compilation ‘Maybe This Christmas Tree’.
Bright Eyes – White Christmas
This one is a little more sombre, but nonetheless earns its place in the top 5. Bright Eyes front man Conor Oberst takes a back seat for this song as singer/songwriter Maria Taylor carries the tune from start to finish.
Not too much needs to be said on this one – clocking in at about a minute and a half, it’s a fine tribute to Nat King Cole’s family favourite. The vocals are angelic, the instrumentation is subtle and it’s just a great Christmas song through and through. The track is featured on Bright Eyes‘ 2002 effort, ‘A Christmas Album’.
Sufjan Stevens – That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!
Sufjan Stevens’ blend of folk and indie rock, hand in hand with the honesty found within his vocals and lyrics, make him one of the most notable artists of the last decade. This track, included on ‘Ding! Dong! Christmas Songs – Vol. III’ as part of the 2006 Christmas box-set, is a stunning song.
The gentle use of the banjo and acoustic guitar, along with a fantastic vocal refrain create an astounding soundscape which (despite the song’s pessimistic title) come together to form a wonderful soundtrack to the festive season.
Whilst this list is a broad cross-section of the alternative scene, there’s plenty more where they came from. Whether its emo, indie, folk or punk, there’s always a way for fans to enjoy the music of the season, their own way.