|photo by flickr user Merelymel13|
Each song on here is absolutely, positively guaranteed not to suck [Editor's note: not a guarantee]. And if you want even more non-suckage, check out last year's Holiday Music That Doesn't Suck playlist.
UPDATE: Check out all the Wired For Music holiday playlists!
UPDATE 2: Click here to download this year's playlist.
- "Fat Daddy (is Santa Claus)" - Fat Daddy
A classic from the John Waters Christmas album, this track by famed Baltimore DJ Paul "Fat Daddy" Johnson is an unjustly forgotten classic of the season.
- "Back Door Santa" - Clarence Carter
Sampled by Run DMC in "Christmas In Hollis" (featured in last year's playlist), this soulful tune by Clarence Carter is described by Wikipedia thusly: "The lyrics are sexually suggestive, not having much to do with Christmas as a holiday." You be the judge.
- "Christmas Is Going To The Dogs" - Eels
This one didn't make the cut last year, but that's only because the Eels have 2 (two!) great Christmas songs. This one is about dogs, so you know it's good.
- "Christmas Time Is Here" - The Blue Hawaiians
Don't let the name fool you, these guys are from L.A. But, they also do one of the best versions I've ever heard of Vince Guaraldi's surprisingly mournful holiday tune.
- "Another Christmas Song" - Stephen Colbert
I hesitated about including a "novelty" song in this list, but Colbert does this song so well, it transcends novelty for me to become one of the catchiest and cleverest holiday numbers I've ever heard. The final "copyright Stephen Colbert" gets me every time.
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews
There are a lot of great versions of this song, but none of the other ones features the amazing sound of Welsh singer Cerys Matthews (formerly of the band Catatonia, of which I'd never heard before). Her voice is so distracting, you can almost miss the fact that Tom Jones really loves playing the filthy old man in this one.
- "I Want An Alien For Christmas" - Fountains Of Wayne
This is what I want for Christmas. For Chanukah I want a rocket ship.
- "Hanukkah oh Hanukkah" - Erran Baron Cohen (featuring Y-Love & Jules Brookes)
This is the coolest version of this song I've ever heard. In fact, it's the only version of this song I've ever heard that doesn't sound exactly like the original. And if his name didn't give it away, I can confirm for you that this is by Borat's brother.
- "Little Drummer Boy" - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
You've no doubt heard Shawn Lee's music featured in various movies and TV shows, but here he brings us something very special. I think this version is as listenable as the Bowie/Crosby version.
- "Merry Christmas Baby" - Hanson
Yes, it's by Hanson. Yes, that is a shameful thing for all of us. Yes, it's awesome nonetheless.
- "Here Comes Santa Claus" - Bob Dylan
Ol' Robert Allen Zimmerman sounds so damn happy on this track, you can easily overlook the fact that it also sounds as though his larynx is trying to escape through his mouth. I still think this qualifies as "not sucking," if only because of that wonderful mix of enthusiasm and irony that few artists outside of Dylan can really muster.
- "Jingle Bells" - Gary Mann
From Mann's brilliantly titled album "Blues For Baby Jesus." Go click on that link and look at the second album cover, and tell me this voice should be coming out of that guy. It shouldn't, and that's why this is wonderful.
- "Christmas Song" - Mogwai
Not to be confused with their longer and significantly darker song "Christmas Steps" (itself a re-recording of their song "Xmas Steps"), this is a very pretty song from Scotland's favorite instrumental alt-rock bands. Perfect for watching the fire burn down after a long day of holiday chores.
- "Please Come Home For Christmas" - Charles Brown
Legendary bluesman Charles Brown really brings the holiday cheer here. Sample lyric: "my baby's gone, I got no friends." So if this season has you reaching you for the bottle of yuletide cheer, don't worry - things could be worse!
- "Pretty Paper" - Willie Nelson
Willie gave this song to Roy Orbison who did a very different version of it back in the early sixties. Willie's version is much more stripped-down and emotional.
- "Auld Lang Syne" - Lou Rawls
Modern science may never be able to fully explain the lyrics of this winter mainstay, but what does that matter when we hear those words coming to us in the beautiful voice of Lou Rawls?