What’s the best alternative Christmas song?

If your festive playlist is in need of shaking up, here are some rare Christmas songs of yore – reggae, RnB, rock, and random.

You can never have enough new Christmas tunes on your festive playlists, right? As DJs clog up the radio with Christmas songs that are the same every single year, refresh the soundtrack to your holiday festivities with these alternatives to Mariah and Wham.

3T – Endless Christmas

3T are Michael Jackson’s nephews Taj, Taryll and TJ. One result of their uncle’s mentoring was this 1997 Christmas ballad. It has no discernible chorus but it sounds quite pretty.

Tom Petty – Christmas All Over Again

Released to benefit the 1992 Special Olympics, the late, great Tom Petty wishes us a merry Christmas in this joyful romp. I love his Christmas wishlist at the end – who doesn’t want a xylophone?

Scouting for Girls – Christmas in the Air (Tonight)

Some say all of Scouting For Girls’ songs sound the same. But is that true of their Christmas song? Maybe.

They’ve also kept their habit of splitting sentences in two to confuse the ear completely – see “the high street’s closed/To all traffic,” and doggedly chasing a rhyme as in “they’re drinking in The Swan/I don’t know where time’s gone.” But the thing is so damn catchy.

Bossfight – Carol of the Cartels

Drop your sherry and let chaos reign. Get ready for a fast and furious dubstep version of “Carol of the Bells” with epic time signature changes. A headbanger from start to finish.

Toots & The Maytals – Happy Christmas (The Christmas Song)

Festive cheer from the late great Toots Hibbert and reggae group the Maytals. The beat makes for a comforting backdrop to preparing the last little prep in the Christmas kitchen, with added subtle chimes of bells.

Bing Crosby and David Bowie – The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth

The oddest Christmas duet? The opening skit is slightly painful, but once Bowie relaxes into it and the singing starts, a strange sort of Christmas magic occurs.

Eddie Cantor – The Only Thing I Want For Christmas

Nothing smart to say about this one – a gorgeous combination of swooping romantic strings and warbling vocals to make you feel cosy inside.

The Youngsters – Christmas in Jail

Don’t drink and drive, kids. Otherwise you’ll end up spending Christmas behind bars, instead of hosting festive quizzes, remotely of course.

Reverend Horton Heat – Run Run Rudolph

Rocking cover of the Chuck Berry festive classic, from the rockabilly band’s stomping 2005 Christmas album.

Christopher Lee – A Heavy Metal Christmas

The late actor had a great love of heavy metal music. Any one of the Lord of Rings actor’s covers of Christmas songs makes a terrific accompaniment to the wrapping of presents.

Phoenix – Alone on Christmas Day. Feat Bill Murray

A sweet and tuneful cover of a lesser-known Beach Boys song, with bonus Bill Murray babbling away in the background.

Julian Casablancas – I Wish It Was Christmas Today

This song began life as a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Jimmy Fallon and Tracey Morgan in 2000. Julian Casablancas saw the potential and ran with it, taking the catchy tune and making it his own.

Cheeky Girls – Have a Cheeky Christmas

Happy, scantily-clad nonsense from 2003. Proving that all you need for a catchy Christmas record is to chant the word Christmas. Altogether now: “1, 2! Santa Claus is coming – 3, 4! Feeling up my stockings…”

Hot Pantz – I’d to Give You One (4 Christmas)

More mild filth here. Expect to be singing the chorus until New Years Eve. Released in 2004, the single peaked at number 64 on the UK official singles chart, failing to make the top 40.

Louis Armstrong – Christmas Night in Harlem

Armstrong’s unique gravelly voice begs to be put on the Christmas stereo. The song rounds up with some joyous scatting.

Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas

Mashing up “If I were a Rich Man” with “12 days of Christmas” over a jerky R&B beat. Fluttery vocals lead to a chorus stuffed full of shimmering chimes.

The song diverts to a pleasingly chaotic breakdown with a peal of “ho ho hos,” all accompanied by a festive video. Just like Bey sings, it’s so lovely.

There’ll be no dead air round the Christmas dinner table with that little lot to play with.

Do you have a favourite, if slightly strange, Christmas Song? Or even one of your own? Let us know if we’ve missed anything. Season’s Greetings to all!

RouteNote is the place for unsigned artists to get their music heard. You can upload your music to all the major streaming services for free and keep 85% of revenue. Gift the world your music this Christmas! Find out more here.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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