If you live somewhere that gets any manner of radio reception, you have been exposed to the "Christmas 24/7" station. Turn it on and, yep, there's "Sleigh Ride."
As fun as carols are, the ubiquity of Christmas songs almost spoils the fun. My old neighborhood in NYC (Astoria, Queens) had a PA system installed the length of Steinway St., blaring constant Christmas tunes. That's fun the first week it's up. After that it's more "Man, loud fire engines do not drive by often enough."
This is a shame. Compounding this is that there are plenty of good bands out there that could be played on the radio that are not. And 24-hour Christmas stations mean there's one less place on the dial for good music.
So, last year, I created a mix CD of songs by modern bands doing holiday songs... some humorous, some traditional. And I will say, it was a nice departure from the radio. The list was:
1) The Dandy Warhols - The Little Drummer Boy
2) Save Ferris - Christmas Wrapping
3) No Doubt - Oi to the World
4) Pearl Jam - Let Me Sleep
5) Bob & Doug McKenzie - 12 Days of Christmas
6) Blink 182 - I Won't Be Home For Christmas
7) Barenaked Ladies w/ Sarah McLachlan - God rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
8) Justin Timberlake - Dick in a Box
9) Adam Sandler - The Hanukkah Song
10) South Park - O Holy Night
11) Everclear - Hating You For Christmas
I have to say, that was a fine disc. So fine, that I am proud to present the 2008 edition of Jay's Holiday Mix. While this year's has some humor, it's a little more serious, but the music might be better. Go track these down and put the rock back in Christmas:
1) The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song - This is just a brilliant little ditty, very catchy and wintry.
2) Liz Phair - Winter Wonderland - Presumably, this was recorded while she was still in her immediate post-Oberlin minimalistic stage. Nice and simple... not overdone like most versions you hear this time of year.
3) Fall Out Boy - Yule Shoot Your Eye Out - I almost left this off. Unfortunately the song is not about a mom telling her son why she won't buy him a BB gun. Alas. But it grew on me. If you have an emover hairdo, this song will be your holiday anthem.
4) They Might Be Giants - Feast of Lights - Your Jewish grandmother sings you a Hanukkah ditty. Of course it includes guilt.
5) Guster - Donde Esta Santa Claus - Includes the line "On Pedro! Ole!" This is a fun song.
6) Squirrel Nut Zippers - Santa Claus is Smoking Reefer - Last year, I asked for suggestions on what to include and said if anyone knew of a song called "All I Want for Christmas is to get in Your Pants," I wanted that. This is pretty damn close, yet no one suggested it. Alas.
7) My Morning Jacket - Xmas Times Is Here Again - Just a beautiful harmonic piece. I couldn't find a Fleet Foxes Christmas song, so this will suffice.
8) The White Stripes - Candy Cane Children - Includes a lyric about a gun and Jack White asking "Why don't you unwrap me, girl?" How did we celebrate this holiday before The White Stripes?
9) The Killers - Don't Shoot Me Santa - They might as well have called this "Santa's Got a Gun."
10) Kylie Minogue - Santa Baby - I'm sure the Brits knew about this long ago, but I just found it and think it's a deserving inclusion.
11) South Park - Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel - Features, among other things, Cartman yelling "Jew" a lot and everyone knows I support this.
12) R.E.M. - Christmas Time is Here - An instrumental, but well done.
13) Death Cab for Cutie - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - This song makes me want another Postal Service album stat.
14) Coldplay - 2000 Miles - It's Coldplay's world. We just live in it. Had to include them. And it's a good song, to boot.
Anyhow... hopefully you have those or know where you can get them. The holiday season is officially here... and it takes good tunes to get through it. Enjoy!