Christmas Songs That Don’t Suck, 2011

A predictably stupid discussion of this xkcd cartoon in a place I can’t link to reminded me that I haven’t posted the list of Christmas songs that don’t suck yet this year. This has expanded somewhat since last year, thanks to some recommendations from readers, so it’s worth posting again to see if there’s anything else I ought to add.

These are the 49 songs in my “Good Christmas” playlist that are rated 4 or 5 stars on iTunes. The full playlist is 129 songs, but most of those are three-star “it’s ok in December, but I wouldn’t want to hear it the rest of the year” songs. These ones, I won’t necessarily skip when I’m shuffle-playing the 4-and-5-star playlist in July.

  • “Valley Winter Song,” Fountains Of Wayne
  • “Fairytale Of New York,” The Pogues
  • “only you can bring me cheer,” alison krauss
  • “christmas comes but once a year,” amos milburn w. charles brown
  • “yeah, i know, it’s christmastime,” andrew dost
  • “donna and blitzen,” badly drawn boy
  • “Got Something for You,” Best Coast, Wavves
  • “You’ll Never Find My Christmas,” Bishop Allen
  • “in the bleak midwinter,” the blind boys of alabama w. chrissie hynde & richard thompson
  • “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas (Previously Unreleased),” Blink-182
  • “Christmas,” Blues Traveler
  • “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” Bruce Springsteen & the Max Weinberg 7
  • “Merry Christmas, Baby {featuring Sam Moore},” Bruce Springsteen & the Max Weinberg 7
  • “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” Bruce Springsteen & the Max Weinberg 7
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas (Ohmega Watts Remix),” Charles Brown
  • “Merry Christmas Emily,” Cracker
  • “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” Darlene Love
  • “Christmas Song,” Dave Matthews Band
  • “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” Death Cab for Cutie
  • “Christmas Light,” Deegan DeWitt & The Sparrows
  • “I Saw Three Ships,” Don Dixon
  • “Christmas Is Going to the Dogs,” Eels
  • “everything’s gonna be cool this christmas,” eels
  • “White Winter Hymnal,” Fleet Foxes
  • “I Want An Alien For Christmas,” Fountains Of Wayne
  • “The Man In The Santa Suit,” Fountains Of Wayne
  • “Tiny Tree Christmas,” Guster
  • “Time Of The Season,” Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
  • “Get Down for the Holidays,” Jenny O.
  • “Xmas,” Jesse Malin
  • “Wintertime Blues,” John Hiatt
  • “A Great Big Sled,” The Killers
  • “¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!,” The Killers
  • “Joseph, Better You Than Me,” The Killers
  • “Father Christmas,” The Kinks
  • “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm (Psapp’s Lady Remix),” Les Brown And His Band Of Renown
  • “Party Hard,” Little Isidore
  • “Just Like Christmas,” Low
  • “Perfect Gift,” Natalie Hemby
  • “Another Winter In a Summer Town,” No Kids
  • “merry christmas baby,” otis redding
  • “2000 miles,” the pretenders
  • “spotlight on christmas,” rufus wainwright
  • “Wintersong,” Sarah McLachlan
  • “Silent Night,” Sixpence None The Richer
  • “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch,” Thurl Ravenscroft
  • “White Wine In the Sun (Live),” Tim Minchin
  • “All I Want,” The Weepies
  • “Christmas Windows,” Youth Group

Yes, this is short on “traditional” songs of the sort highlighted in the xkcd cartoon. That’s because the other eleven months of the year, songs in that mode are elevator music to me, and they’re pretty much elevator music in December, too.

If you know of other songs in the same basic mode as these that aren’t on this list, let me know, and I’ll try to check them out (the odds improve if I can listen to them for free somewhere…). And if you don’t recognize any of these, well, consider them recommended if you like the songs you do recognize.

Comments

  1. #2 Joss Ives
    December 14, 2011

    I listen to the “Merry Christmas” album by Les Issambres all year.

  2. #3 Dale Sheldon-Hess
    December 14, 2011

    Nothing off Barenaked For the Holidays?

    Based on what you’ve got listed, I think about half of it might be something you’d like. Worth checking out, if only to hear their rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, featuring Sarah McLachlan.

  3. #4 Kate Nepveu
    December 14, 2011

    John Wesley Harding’s “Our Lady of the Highways” came up on shuffle today, and while it’s not holiday it struck me as very seasonal, about long roadtrips in bad weather.

  4. #5 Electric Landlady
    December 15, 2011

    I am doing a musical Advent calendar this year and it is possible – given that I like plenty of the songs on your list – that you might like some bits of it. I’m mainly using Grooveshark and YouTube so listening is free.

    Covered in Folk also has a whole raft of good songs available free.

  5. #6 Steven
    December 15, 2011

    The whole Lynyrd Skynyrd “Christmas Time Again” is pretty good, but Mama’s Song is the least traditional of them I think.

  6. #7 Thony C.
    December 15, 2011

    Christmas songs that don’t suck is an oxymoron

  7. #8 Eric Lund
    December 15, 2011

    “Getting Ready for Christmas Day” by Paul Simon (from So Beautiful or So What, the album he released earlier this year).

    “Christmas at Sea” from Sting’s winter/holiday album is also worth checking out–he set a Robert Burns poem against a Gaelic sea shanty. I’m not sure if this is up your alley, but I liked the result.

  8. #9 Jan-Willem Bobbink
    December 16, 2011

    Don’t not forget ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ :)