Guide to Christmas rocking
There’s more to a festive song than shmaltz, mistletoe and whine, writes JAN CRONJÉ
FROM punk rock to highoctane funk, there is more to popular Christmas music than the jingles that are filling shopping centres this month. For fans of rock music, here is a selection of some of the best Christmas rock ’n’ roll songs (yes they do exist).
Kicking off our list are the Las Vegas rockers who played in South Africa in 2009. Don’t shoot me Santa is a song about a Santa “with a bullet in his gun” coming to take revenge on a murderer at Christmas time. The highlight is a soulful give and take between Santa and the man in his sights. It’s daft and catchy.
“Don’t shoot me Santa Claus, I’ve been a clean living boy, I promise you.”
road trip music.
1980s rap superstars Run DMC released Christmas in Hollis in 1987 as a single, working with legendary producer Rick Rubin. It combines traditional Christmas songs like
and Joy to the World with funk-driven horn interludes and down-to-earth lyrics.
“Christmastime in Hollis Queens, Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens.”
Either when you are in Hollis or when a friend asks you to name your favourite Christmas rap tune.
Dylan’s first (and so far only) Christmas album Christmas in the Heart was released in 2009 with all profits going to charity.
His gravelly voice mixed (surprisingly) well with traditional Christmas songs, giving them kind of tender gravitas often lacking in lighter versions. Dylan singing a polka version of Must be Santa is reason enough to listen to it.
“Who’s got a beard that’s long and white? Santa’s got a beard that’s long and white”.
When your Dylan-obsessed friend comes for Christmas lunch. A copy of this album is the mark of a true Dylan connoisseur. is a song about boys robbing a department store Santa, demanding money instead of toys. It’s a rare example of Christmas social commentary. Like Don’t Shoot me Santa, by the Killers, it manages to sound upbeat despite its bleak message.
It starts as a sweet melody of bells, then a distorted guitar and thumping drums tear in. Released in 1977, Father Christmas
“Father Christmas, give us some money, don’t mess around with those silly toys.”
When watching a thoughtful documentary about the state of Britain in the late 1970s.
It’s a punk Christmas sing-along gem by the band that brought you Keep Britain Untidy and Elvis is Dead. Your reviewer saw the band in a Berlin nightclub a couple of years ago, and three days later the ringing in his ears had started to die down. Find it on their 1980s album The Best of Peter & The Test Tube Babies.
“There’s no future in this lonely life so I’d better have a beer.”
It’s the kind of music that might appeal to you at 3am on Christmas Eve after seven glasses of mulled wine, when you suddenly remember how good it felt to mosh.
The glam shock-rocker puts a dark spin on this well-known Christmas song. When he drawls his way through lyrics such as “he’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice”, they’ll never sound sweet to you again. Find it on the 2008 compilation album We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year.
where you live.”
young kids are around.
A wistful rock song featuring a string section and Christmas bells by Nineties super group the Smashing Pumpkins, Christmastime was written for a Special Olympics compilation album. It’s easy listening, essentially an updated rock version of a Christmas carol.
“Christmastime has come, there’ll be toys for everyone.”
In your Christmas chill-out room after all family members have departed.
The second punk Christmas song on this list is a stripped-down moody reflection on how the Christmas spirit is killed by quarrelling with loved ones. It was released on the group’s 1989 album Brain Drain.
“Cause Christmas ain’t the time for breaking each other’s hearts.”
Play it for your family before the festivities start – as a warning.
The British band that brought glam rock, big hair, power chords, falsetto and Van Halen-like solos back to prominence a decade ago released this Christmas single in December 2003. It reached number two in the charts. You’ll be singing along to the chorus once you’ve had enough eggnog.
“Well the weather is cruel and the season of Yule warms the heart, but it still hurts.”
● Did we miss any great Christmas rock songs? Tweet suggestions to @TheWeekendArgus or post your suggestions on the newspaper’s Facebook page.
8. Smashing Pumpkins: Christmastime, 1997 10. The Darkness: Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End), 2003
4. Bob Dylan: Must be Santa, 2009
7. Alice Cooper: Santa Claws Is Coming To Town, 2008
9. The Ramones: Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight), 1989
6. Peter & the Test Tube Babies: I’m Getting Pissed for Christmas, 1980.
1. The Killers: Santa, 2007
Don’t Shoot Me
5. The Kinks: Father Christmas, 1977
2. Run DMC: Christmas in Hollis, 1987
3. James Brown: Soulful Christmas, 1968