If you're celebrating with family and friends this Christmas day, but feel like hanging yourself with a popcorn garland if you have to hear Bing Crosby croon "White Christmas" or Paul McCartney robotically chirp about what a "Wonderful Christmastime" it is one more time, here's a bunch of songs that can round out the looping, sleighbell-spiked playlist of XM satellite Holiday Favourites.
1. Reigning Sound, If Christmas Can't Bring You Home All the cheer surrounding the holidays also puts all the sadness and misery in relief. Reigning Sound's Greg Cartwright gets at this melancholy with this amazing, and affectingly sad, Christmas song about a man alone on Christmas, wishing that an old flame would visit. It's kind of like the plots of all those songs and movies and books about people racing home for the holidays, except sung from the pained POV of someone waiting in a "lonely, lit up world" for a loved one to show up.
2. The Kinks, Father Christmas This 1977 single from the Davis brothers spins a yarn about a department store Santa Claus (in England, Santa Claus is known as "Father Christmas," because that's a much more prim and boring name) who gets attacked by a group of poor kids demanding money instead of toys. It's maybe a bit bleak and cheeky to become a holiday standard, but all the class warfare stuff is safely embedded inside a nifty, upbeat, Kinks-style rocker.
3. The Gruesomes, Santa Claus Like the Kinks song above, this Sonics cover by the sort-of legendary (or at least notable) Montreal garage outfit brings the neediness (and greediness) of the holiday season to the fore. Gruesomes singer Bobby Beaton snarls about wanting "a brand new car, swanky guitar / a cute little honey, and lots of money."
4. King Diamond, No Presents For Christmas Considering how openly into Satan he is, Danish heavy metal castrato King Diamond's probably the last guy you'd expect to have a Christmas single. But he's also probably the first guy you'd expect to have a Christmas single about how he's helping Santa deliver presents, and then just stealing them all. This ranks right up there with AC/DC's Mistress For Christmas as one of the best heavy metal Christmas singles.
5. The Wedding Present, No Christmas This single by the English jangle-rockers isn't even really about Christmas, except in that grander emotional sense of Christmas as a warm-fuzzy romantic idea, which makes it a nice complement to the Reigning Sound song. Like pretty much every Wedding Present song, this one has David Gedge, croak-howling about remorse and reconciliation, this time reaching out to someone he's spurned, and marshaling that Christmas-y spirit of goodwill to offer a sincere apology. Because as much as Christmas is, on paper at least, about merriment and cheer, it's also the ultimate sad sack holiday.