As we enter the midst of another Christmas season, one thing continues to annoy me each and every year; Christmas music is terrible. I'm sorry, but I absolutely hate the traditional rotation of songs that get trotted out and played on an endless loop. Apparently, society believes I'm supposed to suck down these aggravating songs simply because they were written with the season in mind. Well, no, I don't buy into that for a second. Christmas music is not something I ever want to hear, and I do my best to hear as little of the standards as possible.
But, lest I give myself a reputation for being a Grinch, let me say that I do have my own rotation of non-traditional Christmas songs that make the season a little bit more enjoyable. Here are six of my favorites:
Alicia Witt - I'm Not Ready For Christmas
The fire-haired actress/singer hits on my feelings for the holidays, namely that I'm never ready to embrace the season the way that television and movies tell me I'm supposed to. This song is a bouncy little number that runs through the frustrations of being the least cheerfully festive person in your social circle, complete with a few choice words. And most of all, it makes the point that I've been making for years; The Grinch was right. If he could hear the Whos from on top of a mountain, they were terrible neighbors who had no respect for noise ordinances.
Theocracy - All I Want For Christmas
While the power metal band has been hit and miss for me with their regular albums, their Christmas outings are always fantastic. The second of their original tunes is a standard around my house come December now, with a thrashing package of riffs, and a story about all the hardships the Christmas characters faced once the economy tanked and the holiday was abandoned. The image of The Grinch as a Wal-Mart greeter is perversely cheerful, and the song itself has all the sugary hooks that make power metal great.
Theocracy - Wynter Fever
What would you call a ten minute, multi-scene, progressive power metal song about the love affair between Santa's son and Frosty's daughter? If you said genius, you're right. This song takes you on quite the journey, culminating in the glorious image of Festus Clause holding his girlfriend, who is now a carrot in a glass of water, all the while the melody builds to a swelling crescendo. It's epically beautiful, even though it's also insane.
Weird Al - The Night Santa Went Crazy
Speaking of insane, how about we enter the mind of Weird Al, who in this song tells the tale of a murderous Santa taking out the frustrations of the job on all the poor souls who happen to be around him. The inventive ways Santa disposes of them is hilarious, as is the ending note, that at least the movie rights will bring a lot of money. Truly in the spirit of the holiday.
Blues Traveler - Christmas
The most traditional song on the list, by far. If you don't listen carefully, you might think this is just a beautifully soft-rocking Christmas track, with lovely melodies and overlapping counterpoint melodies. But the reason this song sticks with me, in addition to being from a band that was incredibly important to my youth, is the opening salvo; "Comes a time for Christmas and I really have to ask, if this if feeling merry how much longer must it last?" I've asked the same thing many times.
Gunther & The Sunshine Girls - Ding Dong (Christmas Song)
But perhaps the most fun Christmas song of them all comes from the most unexpected of placed. Gunther's one hit, "Ding Dong Song" was a staple of my college dorm, and his Christmas track is even better. Every year, I put this on and it brings a smile to my face. The sarcastic techno beat, the complete lack of effort to the vocals, it all works as a great joke. And then the Sunshine Girls come in and deliver an exceptional Christmas chorus, which elevates the song into a real treat, and makes it work on more than one level. It's patently ridiculous, but it's oh so fun.
And that is what makes my Christmas more enjoyable.