“Is it time for Christmas movies yet?” a friend recently asked me via text. “My complicated love for Christmas takes over just after Thanksgiving. … Secretly, I’m furious for loving it.” And this got me thinking. Now that I’ve passed the point in my life where it’s cool to hate holidays, I’m actually kind of looking forward to some of the jams. There’s no use in pretending anymore, but that’s still no excuse for dusting off the same tired old chestnuts and miring oneself in the same-old Xmas music nonsense. Track down these super-cool holiday covers (and not-covers) instead. It is absolutely not too early.
Weezer: “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”
Rivers Cuomo and company actually released an entire album of Christmas covers aptly titled Christmas with Weezer in 2008. Most folks know all the songs, too, but with that trademark nerd-core Weezer style, they breathe new life into songs that we're all going to hate in about three weeks. This particular ditty wins out for its short and sweet length, but also because Cuomo really sounds like he means it. That's cool because he always seemed like a creeper, but maybe having kids and stuff was good for him.
MU330: “Angels We Have Heard on High”
Put your (wrong) feelings about third-wave ska aside for a second and pump the dulcet awesomeness of this Midwest gem-of-a-band's rendition of the classic. MU330 also put out an album of wintry hits we know and love-ish, and the poppy nature of their versions mixed with the scientific fact that horns basically always make songs sound better can only mean one thing—this shit sounds tight as hell.
Bad Religion: “Joy to the World”
The most garrulous of punk bands ditches the thesaurus and front man Greg Graffin's propensity for seriousness in favor of Christmas-y delights through their pop-punk filter. Bands usually only stick around for eons when they're this good, and there's a bonus in the form of being able to keep one's punk rock street cred … if such a thing exists.
FEAR: “Fuck Christmas”
FEAR never really minced words when it came to hating on shit, and if ever there were an anti-anthem to the drag of the season, this is it. Now, we grant you that this most crusty of arguably well-known punk bands has erred so beyond PC basically always. But sometimes it feels great to give in to the darkness that slowly closes around you as if it's zeroing in to a single pin of light. "Don't despair just because it's Christmas," front man Lee Ving croons before screaming, "Fuck Christmas!" again and again, and we're all like, "Oh man, this dude hates Christmas."
Bing Crosby & David Bowie: “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy”
We had to make it up to Bing for implying his jams are tired, and anyway, if ever there were inter-generational proof that Christmas music can work for everyone, it's in this coming together of musical titans from 1977's Bing Crosby's Christmas Special. Not bad, you guys, and RIP to both of y'all.
Metallica: “Carol of the Bells”
If there's one holiday jam a-beggin' to be given the metal treatment, it's this bad boy right here. It's a tad over-produced, as is Metallica's wont, but compared to the douchey metalcore version from August Burns Red, the world's biggest "metal" band wins out.
Run-DMC: “Christmas in Hollis”
Classic from the funky horn line and early-days-of-hip-hop bass to the iconic video and silly lyrics, Run-DMC proves that whimsy has its place in the world of hip-hop.
The Waitresses: “Christmas Wrapping”
Out of the artsy post-punk world of the 1980s that also brought us incredible bands like The B-52s (if you don't own Cosmic Thing what are you even doing?) and Talking Heads comes this wordy little pop number that does a damn fine job encapsulating the low-key feelings some of us get this time of year while remaining hopeful that the goings-on might just be OK. The Waitresses hailed from Akron, Ohio, which is also famous for a little band called Devo and probably nothing else worth mentioning.
Jasper: “Dumped For Christmas”
My buddy Jasper got dumped at Christmastime some years ago, so he penned this magnum opus that included such thoughtful lyrical highlights as "Socks, sweater, dumped on my ass/Merry fucking Christmas." Nailed it, bro. Anyway, you'll never find this song, but shut up—this isn't about you.