Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime(from the single Wonderful Christmas Time, 1979 Parlophone / Columbia) An unconventional Christmas song, and an unconventional song from the great SirPaul McCartney. It`s not like the Beatles great to use a lot of synths, but this song is catchy and oddly beautiful none the less. I saved this one for last because Christmas is fun, just like this song. Also because Sir Paul is brilliant. I hope everyone has a lovely Holiday season.
Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)(from the album Brain Drain, 1989 Sire) There are certain bands that remind me or the best parts of my life. Simpler times; hanging out with friends, playing punk music, getting drunk at the park. One of these bands is the Ramones. Christmas is a time to reflect and be happy. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky and C.J. make me happy. These New York punk-rock legends only want one thing for Christmas, and that is for us to be happy. The Ramones want to wish you a Happy Holidays…three chords at a time. Although all the original members have passed on, the impact they left on music, and on my life, is undeniable.
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas? (from the single Do They Know It’s Christmas, 1984 Phonogram/Columbia) Some of the biggest acts in the United Kingdom got together in 1984 to raise money for famine relief in Africa. Contributors from bands like U2, BoomtownRats, WHAM!, DuranDuran, The Police, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet, and Culture Club contributed to the song, which managed to bring in over ten million dollars during it’s first year of release. This song started a wave of celebrity collaborations and events to aid causes and charities all over the world. It may not be a traditional Christmas song, and may not be the most amazing song ever recorded, but it had heart, and all the right intentions. It’s crazy to think that this song is thirty years old. The cause is still going strong today with @BandAid30 .
Lemmy, Billy F. Gibbons and Dave Grohl – Run, Run Rudolph (from the compilation We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year, 2008 Armoury Records – First recorded by the legendary Chuck Berry in 1958, Run, Run Rudolph has been recorded by many musicians over the years. The others are okay, but you cannot compete with Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead), especially when he is joined by underrated guitar legend Billy F. Gibbons (ZZ Top), and all-round good dude Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters). This is Christmas, Sunset Strip meets Mississippi Delta style; with snarl and attitude. The only regretful thing about this collaboration is that they didn’t make a whole album of Holiday songs. If you had an opportunity to record a Christmas song with a select group ofmusicians, who would you choose, and what song would you do? I choose White Christmas with Joshua Homme (QOTSA) and Tom Waits. Just imagine…
Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (from Bowie’s B-side single Fantastic Voyage, 1982 RCA) What happens when you take an entertainment legend, an amazing pop vocalist and let them sing a carol together? You get this beauty of a Christmas song. Bowie is my favorite male performer and Little Drummer Boy is at the top of my Holiday song list. This is a beautiful rendition, recorded by two gentlemen who could sing anything and make it sound lovely. It was a great touch to put together an actor/singer with Bing Crosby’s influence and a current artist the caliber of the Thin White Duke (Bowie). As far as contemporary Christmas songs go, this may be the best.
As a bonus, here is a Funny or Die tribute with John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell.
Dio & Tony Iommi – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen(from the compilation We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year, 2008 ArmouryRecords) Perhaps the the last couple of legends that come to mind when you think of Christmas songs, Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi bring us the finest in Yuletide metal. These former Black Sabbath and Heaven and Hell mates made heavy music what it is today, so of course they have every right to do what they like regarding Christmas. I have had the honor and pleasure of seeing these amazing men in concert. The late, great Dio had one of the best voices in music. God rest, ye merry Gentleman. One of a kind.
Wham! – Last Christmas (from the album Music From the Edge of Heaven, 1984 Columbia Epic) Often imitated, but never duplicated, this song will get stuck in your head the moment you hear it. George Michael may not be perfect, but he is a hell of a song writer. In all honesty, the first time I watched the video was today just prior to writing this. Is it just me, or is it like a four minute Wrigley chewing gum commercial with Mr. Michael’s hairdo the main star? Christmas means different things to different folks, but to Wham!, it means ski trips, cozy sweaters, and romance. There is a lesson to be learned here; don’t give your heart to just anyone this Christmas. Please, give it to someone special.
August Burns Red – Carol of the Bells (from the album August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin’ Hill A Holiday Album, 2012 Solid State) These good Christian boys are one of technical metal’s finest bands. The entire Holiday album the released in 2012 is actually quite spectacular. The all-traditional track listing is done up all heavy, but enjoyably so. It may not be your thing, but these guys are undeniably talented. Carol of the Bells is one of my favorite Christmas songs, so I chose their version to share with you. The fancy light show in the video is just a bonus.
GWAR – Stripper Christmas Summer Weekend (from the album Bloody Pit of Horror, 2010 Metal Blade) There are many different Christmas traditions around the world. For example, in the Ukraine, trees are decorated with spider webs because according to legend a “magic spider” will spin webs of gold and silver for the less fortunate. People in the Czech Republic are taught not to eat anything on Christmas eve until a large feast is prepared in hopes to see the “golden pig” appear. In Iceland, there are thirteen troll-like Santa characters that come down from the mountain during the holidays to bring children gifts or rotten potatoes, depending on the child’s behavior. If you are in the band GWAR, you celebrate Christmas in the summer, over a whole weekend, with strippers. It may not be conventional, but who is going to argue with those guys. I have also included a video of GWAR doing some caroling. Ho Ho Ho.
Eazy E – Merry Muthaphuckkin’ Xmas (from the EP 5150: Home 4 Tha Sick, 1992 Ruthless/PriorityRecords– Not exactly your typical Christmas carol, but perhaps the greatest Holiday story ever told? The late, great Eazy E (N.W.A.) and a cast of friends let us know what they want from Santa, and what he’s gonna get in return. This is not for the kids, as it features some pretty nasty lyrics, but how else can Eazy tell us about Christmas in Compton? It was a silent night, it was a Holy night…