"Top Five" Non-Traditional Holiday Songs

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Let’s face it, holiday songs tend to be as cliché and cheesy as families wearing matching Christmas sweaters. Listening to Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas” 785 times in a month can be as nauseating as a three-day eggnog bender. But you don’t have to settle for the same 20-30 songs you’re likely to hear while doing your holiday shopping. When you’ve had enough, here’s a list of five songs with a holiday theme that won’t push you to the brink of insanity.

“Everyday Should be a Holiday” – Dandy Warhols
This song admittedly has nothing to do with the holiday season as we think of it in America. Rather, the word holiday is the more European definition of a vacation or a break from the norm. However, it’s a fun, upbeat tune that will make you forget you’ve circled the lot at the mall for two hours looking for a place to park. Plus, for those who spend their holiday break in and out of bars and parties, there is an enhanced meaning in the lyrics “If I was getting paid/For getting drunk and getting laid/I’d grab a phone/Just to call you and say/Quit your job ‘cause I got it made.”

“The First Song” – Band of Horses
This song’s beautifully sad instrumentation not only conjures images of a sparse, cold and lonely Christmas, it echoes pain and sadness in the lyrics. The song seems to be about the loss of a loved one and the loneliness of having nowhere to go. But the guitar work is so ornate and dramatic that not knowing the lyrics, which are a bit vague, would make any casual listener’s heart melt. The ending of the song leaves no doubt about the pain being felt throughout as it closes with the rhetorical question “Roy?/Do I know anyone?/No, I don’t know anyone.”

“What we do on Christmas” – Atom and His Package
It’s no secret Christmas dominates the holiday landscape in America, and sometimes as a nation, as politically correct as we try to be, we forget there are other religions celebrating important holidays. This is a really funny song from the Jewish perspective that jokes about the idea that Jewish people use Christmas to plot against Christians. The song culminates with the digression “Wouldn’t you like to know what we do on Christmas?/You think we’re sitting around polishing our horns? Making soup with the blood of the Christian born?/You think I’m being rude?/We go to the movies and eat Chinese food.”

“Happy Christmas (The War is Over)” – John Lennon
What can be said about this song? It’s beautiful, poignant and really captures the true spirit of the holiday season, so long as you’re into peace, love and unity. There’s nothing commercial or fake about it; it’s simply a plea to use the holiday spirit in everyday life and extend generosity and giving beyond the holiday season.  The chorus of children and sleigh bells throughout the song really tug at the heartstrings, but the theme as a whole is an extension of a man who continually fought for peace. Ironically, he once claimed the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.”

“Christmas in Hollis” – Run-D.M.C.
Not only is this one of the best Christmas songs ever, it might just be the only hip-hop Christmas song out there. The blast of the horns and incessant beat make this a really fun song for a casual Christmas party, but the song is great anytime. How can you not get in the holiday spirit with lines like “It’s Christmas time in Hollis Queens/Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens/Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese/And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees?”

Compiled by Jason Yurgartis.