When it gets to Christmas time, we are sure many of you feel the same way we do. We get nauseous hearing the same old songs over and over again. Songs like, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “White Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” etc. You get the idea.
Don’t get me wrong, many of them are great songs. I mean these songs get played to death because people love them. However, if you can’t listen to, “Silent Night,” one more time this season keep reading. Below we will examine five highly underrated and/or non-traditional tracks to enjoy while you slurp up your eggnog, rip open your presents and decorate your tree.
“Lonely Christmas” by Sloppy Seconds (1992)
There isn’t a more scathingly, sardonic Punk band than Sloppy Seconds. Just listen to their misunderstood, underground hit, “I Don’t Wanna Be A Homosexual,” and you will surely agree. In this song, Sloppy Seconds break down depression, seasonal affective disorder, and the holiday’s effects on mental health. Of course, unless you listen carefully, you might miss the message because of those infectiously crunchy hooks and riffs. Without a doubt, the track is as killer of a Christmas Punk anthem as The Ramone’s classic, “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).” It’s a wonder it isn’t brought up more in the conversation of great X-Mas songs.
“Player’s Ball” by Outkast (1993)
You might be confused about this one at first, and believe me, we are sure there are heated debates like the ones you hear about Die Hard. However, the fact is the inception of the song started when Outkast was signed by LaFace Records, and they were asked to deliver a song for the label’s holiday album. The label was hoping for something similar to the Kurtis Blow classic, “Christmas Rappin’.” Big Boi, Andre 3000, and their production group, Organized Noize, had other plans. They felt a traditional Christmas song would ruin their image, and wanted something truer to who they were as a group. They would go on to create “Player’s Ball,” a song about the larger-than-life, yearly gathering of Pimps. Nevertheless, the song had jingle bell samples and lyrics that tied the theme into the holiday season with lyrics such as, “It’s beginnin’ to look a lot like what? Follow my every step take notes…” … “You thought I’d break my neck to help y’all deck the halls oh. Now I got ‘nother means of celebratin’. I’m gettin’ biz to that ho-jo,” and “Ain’t no chimneys in the ghetto so I won’t be hangin’ my socks,” it was enough to get it on the holiday album, and became a surprise hit single. If you’re a Hip-Hop head, this one is a must for the holidays.
“Santa Claus Never Comes To The Ghetto” by Yellowman (1998)
This legend of Dancehall and Reggae reinvented himself in the 90s, focusing on more socially conscious material. A representation of this period of his career is, “Santa Claus Never Comes To The Ghetto,” from his album, A Very, Very, Yellow Christmas. The song is a play on another classic by R&B superstar James Brown, “Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto.” In JB’s song, he implores Santa to take action, and help out the disadvantaged children in the ghetto. It was one of the most influential Christmas songs ever created, and it served as a political human rights statement, while at the same time, being a catchy hit holiday song. Yellowman accomplishes the same message while bringing a more aggressive, and modern thematic approach to the concept. The track’s general takeaway is Yellowman asking, why Santa never comes to the ghetto, and why he continues to share his gifts with the haves while ignoring the have-nots? As seen in lyrics such as, “Him a go, go to Hollywood and Silver Spring. Ghetto children never get Thanksgiving. Him a visit the queen and a visit the king. And poor people, never get anything. What about the children inna Brooklyn? What about the children who suffering? From Santa Claus, you nah hear nothing.” Yellowman delivers this message in a time-honored, toasting delivery, as only he can, over a pleasing, quintessential Dancehall beat. It’s a wonder this song — hell, the whole album — isn’t revered in both the genre and holiday music, in general.
“Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis” by Tom Waits (1978)
I’ll admit this one is a reach. It doesn’t go hard on the Christmas themes, but you didn’t come here for the typical holiday suggestions, right? If you look at it as a concept, you can see where we are coming from. It’s the contents of a Christmas card written by a former sex worker to a man named Charlie. In the letter, she explains where her life currently is, and what she hopes for in the future. It’s a grim, introspective, bluesy Folk ballad as only Tom Waits can tell it. Tom sings the lyrics in his usual crooning gruff of a delivery backed only by an electric grand piano.
“Run Rudolph Run” by Lemmy Kilmister, Billy Gibbons, Dave Grohl (2008)
This is the only cover on the list. The song was originally popularized by Chuck Berry, and written by a duo that included the original writer of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Johnny Marks. The tune comes from an album called, We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year. The album sports a who’s who cast of Heavy Metal, and Hard Rock artists. It boasts such names as Alice Cooper, Vinny Appice, Bruce Kulick, Tommy Shaw, and Ronnie James Dio, amongst others. On the album, they rework countless X-Mas classics into rockin’ brutal anthems, and “Run Rudolph Run” is the crown jewel of the album. Billy brings a more driving, heavy tone than the original, while Dave pounds away on the skins. Lemmy was Lemmy on vocals, which bring together the fresh sound heard on the track. Could you ask for anything more than this trio together on an album? Chuck Berry’s version is great — don’t get me wrong — but if you’re looking for something harder, yet familiar this holiday season, you have found the right ditty.
Interested in checking out the tracks listed above? Check out the link below:
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