Christmas music kicks ass. I mean that, which surprises me; I can be kind of a Scrooge. When the stores drag out their stanky cinnamon-scented pinecones in October, I seethe. (Seriously. Stop.) Carolers make me twitchy. But I've always liked novelty music. Christmas songs, silly or serious, are novelties—and the Internet is crawling with them. Every year, it's a feast, and it's a lot of fun. But I don't know if I'll be truly content until Gwar and Mama June do a duet called "Roast Beast." Please, Santa?
Santa Claws & the Naughty But Nice Orchestra, "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" (Hell's Bells of Christmas: The Holiday Tribute to AC/DC, CMH, 2007)
So, how'd you rate at your annual performance review? Naughty? Nice? Meets expectations? Well, if you're lookin' at a loot-less holiday, this instrumental tribute/cover tune offers a bright side. Go into business for yourself, you rascal. Get paid for doin' what you do best. Then buy yourself what you really want. Bonus track: They do "Mistress for Christmas," too, 'cause they heard you like Xmas songs, so they made an Xmas version of an Xmas song for you.
Atom & His Package, "What We Do on Christmas" (Making Love, No Idea, 1999)
Adam Goren is Jewish (Package TBD), so what's he doin' here? It's like this: Gentiles always be askin' what Goren does during Christmas when everybody else in the world celebrates. Goren says Jewish people are so busy running the media and counting money during the year, and Christmas—when everybody else in the world is preoccupied—is when they map out world-domination tactics for the coming year. The real answer, however, comes in the song's final verse: "You think we're sitting around polishing our horns?/ Making soup with the blood of the Christian-born?/ You think I'm being rude?/ We go to the movies and eat Chinese food." Now you know.
Thee Snowglobe-lins, "Christmas Dog" It's a Team Mint Xmas Vol. 2!, Mint, 2004)
Jaunty and kinda spacey, this could've been a classic cartoon theme song. Except for the seasonal thing, and the fact that most moms won't let their kids watch a show about a dog drunk on "egg-uh-nog" and high on China White while playing Santa. Hello? Adult Swim?
Bubbles & the Shitrockers, "Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself" (single, ReverbNation.com, 2007)
Fellow Trailer Park Boys fans, this one's for you. Uninitiated? Go directly to Netflix for all eight seasons of this Canadian series (plus three films, two concerts, a holiday prequel and an hour-long special). Foul-mouthed, kitty-loving, Rush-adoring, dope-smoking, guitar-slinging, legally blind, strangely wise Bubbles (played by Mike Smith, former guitarist of '90s alt-rockers Sandbox) is one of TV's greatest characters. In this twangy, single-verse holiday chestnut, Bubbles breaks it down: "Christmas is the time/ to have your friends and family near/ smoking dope, eating turkey/ and drinkin' beer/ It's not about ... / how much money you spent/ or wrasslin' over toys/ at the crazy fuckin' mall .../ So I say/ Dear Santa Claus, go fuck yourself."
The Jigsaw Seen, "Open Up the Box Pandora" (Gifted, Vibro-phonic, 2012)
An undercover holiday song (really, you'd never know) that borrows Johnny Marr's gauzy, shimmering guitar sound to score creepy-cool lyrics about gift-giving. Also, the tone can be read as ominous, lustful or encouraging—which can completely change the story. That leads to serious yearlong replay value.
Bruce Haack, "I Like Christmas" (Badd Santa: A Stones Throw Records Xmas, Stones Throw, 2007)
Late electronic-music pioneer Bruce Haack initially released this on the kids' Xmas compilation Zoot Zoot Zoot Here Comes Santa in His New Space Suit (Ra-jo International, 1981). It's corny like that Mormon Sunday-school tune about popcorn; its joyously repetitive chorus conjures both old-school funkers Zapp and outsider music legend Wesley Willis. Plus, Haack made music for headphones, so "Christmas" is layered and trippy. And super weird: There's a brief interpolation of "Silent Night," a strange solo on what sounds like stoned steel drums, and someone singing "Christ mass" instead of "Christmas."
Heatscores, "Scrooge" (Double Crown Records Presents Seasonal Favorites, Vol. 1, Double Crown, 2007)
The audience for a mashup of The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol and any 1980s Lucio Fulci spag-splatter film is probably thin. "Scrooge" starts like a movie trailer, with music straight from the school of Goblin (go-to soundtrackers of many Italian horror films), and this voiceover: "Acid rain ... drug addiction ... international terrorism ... freeway killers. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Don't miss Charles Dickens' immortal classic Scrooge. Your life might just depend on it." Then it's two minutes of surf rock and spooky laughter and no Christmas cheer. Until the final minute, when a sobbing ghoul sings the chorus of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." If the descriptiondidn't resonate with you before, considerit as the score for your holiday familydinner. Suddenly, it's not so esoteric.
The Mojo Gurus, "Santa Won't You Please Bring Me Some Beer" (single, MojoGurus.com, 2013)
These Tampa Bay blues rockers are basically late-'80s Tampa Bay hair band Roxx Gang, who signed to Virgin Records just in time to get teabagged by grunge. In Mojo Gurus, they dim the flash, turn down (a little) and keep the guitar solos, but make forays into blues, country, R&B and flamenco. "Lager or ale is the gift that never fails!" proclaim the Gurus in their 2013 holiday single. Truer words ...
NRBQ, "Jingle Bells (live)" and "Christmas Wish" (Christmas Wish—Deluxe Edition, CLANG!, 2007)
Proudly versatile, NRBQ often invites audience members to put requests in their Magic Box. Later, they'll draw a song and play it. Even if it's one they don't know. "Jingle Bells," though. It's boring, easy. Except this is Q! They give ol' J.B. a manic, tootling trumpet treatment and a Mardi Gras vibe. There may even be a kazoo in there. But there's another thing they do exceedingly well. To understand, watch the YouTube video for NRBQ's "Christmas Wish," and listen to it with your eyes closed. Your heart will grow three sizes.