for better or for worse, here are some of our favorite holiday songs

So, Sarah suggested that we should do a joint post of holiday songs, and this strange collection was the result. Enjoy, if you dare.

Opal Foxx Quartet
Atlanta, Georgia
“Somebody’s House Always Burns at Christmas” from the album The Love That Won’t Shut Up

From the depths of Cabbagetown in the late 80s & early 90s, underground legends were born beneath the smokestacks. Opal Foxx Quartet featuring singer/poet Benjamin crossed boundaries and brought together folks of all stripes. I was fortunate to be a young ‘hanger-on’ of the scene, friend of Benjamin’s, and catch so many performances by OFQ, and later breakdown, but no less important to the fabric of Atlanta’s growing independent sound, Smoke. Tragic, raw, beautiful-ugly, and ‘real’ are just a few words that come to mind. The importance of their presence during a very formative time in the city’s history can’t be overstated…. – Jon

Peanuts/Bad Brains
“It’s a Bad Brains Christmas, Charlie Brown”

As Schroeder’s hands near the keys at the Peanuts gang’s Christmas pageant, we all know exactly what to expect, right? Another classic from The Vince Guaraldi Trio. What we don’t expect is 4 black former jazz musicians from DC playing one of hardcore punk’s seminal singles. Bad Brains’ “Pay to Cum” synced to the Charlie Brown holiday special is one of my absolute favorite Christmas traditions. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s jarring and hilarious every time. – Tom

Sufjan Stevens
Brooklyn, NY
“Get Behind Me, Santa!” from Songs For Christmas Volume V.- Peace

Sufjan Stevens has dozens and dozens of holiday songs, both covers and originals, which range from flat out beautiful to, well, really goofy, but more often than not they work. This original falls in the middle of the beautiful/goofy scale and is super catchy. If I have to listen to Christmas songs, the best case scenario is Sufjan’s two holiday compilations on repeat. If you want a little more variety in your carols, I highly recommend checking them out. – Tom

No Use For A Name
San Jose, CA
“Fairytale of New York” from the album More Betterness

Yeah, I might get some flack for this one, but I prefer this melodic pop punk version to the Pogues original. RIP Tony Sly. – Tom

Nerf Herder
Santa Barbara, CA
“I’ve Got A Boner For Christmas”

Nerf Herder rarely takes anything too seriously, and their shot at a holiday song holds true to that tradition as well. Crude? Yes. Lewd? Most definitely. Funny as all get out? But of course! Grab the mistletoe and kiss that special someone while listening to this pop-punk jam! – Petee

No Doubt
Anaheim, CA
“Oi to the World!”

Original performed on The Vandals little known about Christmas album, Oi To The World, this cover by No Doubt is pretty excellent in its own right. While the original album is definitely a bit more in the traditional Oi punk vein, a little ska can definitely be good for the soul during the holiday season. – Petee

Foxtails Brigade
San Francisco, CA
“I’m Not Really In The Christmas Mood This Year”

While most people find that the holiday season is usually one for getting together and celebrating with friends and family, there are certainly those of us who tend to lean towards the Scrooge and Grinch side of the spectrum. For those who want to do a little bit of lamenting as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, Foxtails Brigade’s indie-folk tune provides the perfect soundtrack. – Petee

Joni Mitchell
Los Angeles/British Columbia

I have two traditions every year before Christmas; I read Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” and I listen to Joni Mitchell’s “River” (and hey, a blog named after a Joni Mitchell album deserves the occasional dose of JM, right?). Some might find this ritual sad as hell, but there’s such beauty in the sadness and a stirring reminder that the holidays can be a tough time for many people. Let’s spread some cheer. – Kayne

The Polyphonic Spree
Dallas, TX
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”

This 2005 cover of John Lennon’s 1971 classic is by a band I miss and love. And it reminds me why Lennon’s work stands the test of time. It’s a song that seems ripe for re-thinking and re-telling every few years; perhaps never more so than as we head into 2017. – Kayne

“One More Sleep ‘Till Christmas”

For those of us that are obnoxious with Christmas spirit there’s the greatest Christmas movie ever: A Muppet Christmas Carol. Even today on Christmas Eve, I make a point to listen to this song at least once (ignoring the fact I’ve likely watched the movie at least once a day, like the most boring advent calendar). It’s a song that brings back all the good feelings of being a child on the night before Christmas. – Sarah

“The Secret of Christmas”

If you’re a bit nostalgic for some quintessential 90s country, there’s this original by SHeDAISY. This song is a nice reminder that Christmas doesn’t always about the gifts, but rather family and/or friends. Included on the same album are other great originals and a mash-up of two of my favorite traditional Christmas songs Hark the Herald and Carol of the Bells. – Sarah

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
“What You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

Not a Christmas song, but still relevant to the holiday. Since deep down I’m a hopeless romantic (despite my cynical exterior), I’ve always loved the idea of this song. Or maybe it’s just because I’d be completely happy if Joseph Gordon-Levitt were asking me? Either way, the answer is exactly where I want to be – sitting at home in my jammies. – Sarah

The Tractors
“Santa Claus is Comin’ (In a Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train)”

The Have Yourself a Tractors Christmas is quite possibly my favorite Christmas album. The whole album is Christmas originals, and there are more traditional songs, but the fun ones are where it’s at. Taking the base of their 1994 hit Baby Likes to Rock It, they made it even better by Christmas-fying it. If you want a bluesy, country twinged, rocking Christmas song (or album), this is for you. – Sarah

Lemmy Kilmister/Billy Gibbons/Dave Grohl
Los Angeles
“Run Run Rudolph”

This is the super group that should have been. Lemmy lends his voice, Billy his guitar, and little drummer boy Dave rounds out a killer rendition of Chuck Berry’s Xmas standard. The animation for this particular video is pretty awesome as well. I think Santa riding a motorcycle is how Lemmy would have envisioned it. — Joshua

Ahmad Jamal
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I personally really enjoy jazzy Xmas tunes, but not the standards you hear in Target. Ahmad Jamal is one of the finest jazz pianist of all time. Next to Thelonious Monk, he wrote some of the most original jazz piano pieces ever constructed. Beyond his compositional skills, this live rendition of Snowfall is a testimony to his improvisational genius. — Joshua

Murder By Death
Bloomington, Ind./Louisville, Ky.
“Oh, To Be An Animal” from Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon

Just this week, Adam from MBD shared this eerie song on the band’s Facebook page and said that he wrote it while on a visit back for Christmas. “House is alive with music & lights. / Oh, to be a mirror inside, to catch the sights. / Oh oh, oh oh, / It’s the loneliest of times.” – bill

Chuck Berry
“Run Run Rudolph”

When I saw that Joshua was submitting an, ahem, different version of this song, I had to counter with this 1958 classic. – bill

David Bowie & Bing Crosby
“The Little Drummer Boy”/”Peace on Earth”

OK, I’ll admit that I saw this when it originally aired in 1977. The 73-year old Crosby died in October of that year, after his Christmas special had been taped but many weeks before it aired. The back story goes that Bowie agreed to do the special because his mom was a fan of Bing Crosby, that he arrived on set in a full-length mink coat, and that he actually hated “The Little Drummer Boy”, which prompted the writing of the stirring lyrics that he sings here. – bill

Live Aid Finale
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Seriously, how the fuck did Bob Geldof pull this off? – bill