Five best unusual Christmas songs
Dig out your mittens and pull out your debit card, Christmas will soon be upon us. What better way to inject ourselves with some of that festive cheer than to look at some of the less conventional Christmas music spawned over the years?
Warning: most of these lack that bright eyed, dimple-cheeked quality of standard Christmas material.
- Xmas at K-Mart – Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band
This tasty little number landed Root Boy and his entourage a £250,000 deal with Warner Brothers. There’s a Beefheartian character to Root Boy’s harsher, spoken word style as he bemoans the rampant commercialism and general pain in the a*** that Christmas shopping often is, though he isn’t above sneaking in the almost-joking suggestion that we buy his album as the ideal Christmas gift. This song is rattly, twangy and rough, with enough grumpy old man syndrome to keep the whole thing hilarious.
- The Little Drum Machine Boy – Beck
You read that right. Beck did a Christmas Song. More specifically, he wrote a rap from the perspective of a young Jewish boy aspiring to be a hip-hop artist, to a beat modelled after The Little Drummer Boy. Beck’s drawling vocals wafting lazily over scratchy soundscapes to a clap snare beat may not be to everyone’s taste, but where else are you going to hear the lyrics “Now get this sh*t lit like a menorah // It’s funk so illegal I might need a lawyer?”
- We Wish You a Protein Christmas – The Fall
This is probably the bleakest addition to this list. Manchester-based post-punk band The Fall have had a long and storied career since they formed in 1976, a career that has seen over 66 musicians come and go under the leadership of frontman Mark E. Smith. Smith is known for his sardonic and misanthropic lyrics and this festive contribution is no exception. A deliciously hate-fuelled punk take on The Carol of the Bells frames Smith’s musings on a time of the year that can seem saccharine and shallow. One for those who are looking for permission to feel angry at Christmas.
- Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa – De La Soul
De La Soul came rocketing out of the gates of the 90s, with two critically acclaimed hip-hop albums under the trio’s belt by 1991. De La Soul Is Dead came as the second of these two powerhouse releases and a little known track nestled within tells the tale of a young woman in Brooklyn striding into Macys and shooting her father, who worked as a department store Santa, after years of suffering his physical and sexual abuse, all in front of a horde of screaming children. Merry Christmas!
- A Spaceman Came Travelling – Chris De Burgh
Although already pretty well known, this absolute classic about an alien being present at the Nativity is too good to leave out. The Angel Gabriel reframed as a nomadic extraterrestrial bringing a prophecy of peace and goodwill to mankind before soaring away in a spaceship is not how we often recall the story of Jesus’ birth. That said, the alien’s chorus has become one of those perennial melodies everybody remembers. It’s easy to be a cynical at Christmas, but consider sticking this on and letting all that goodwill you’ve been resisting wash over you.