If you love the holiday season but want to die every time you hear that accelerating chord progression in Mariah Carey's famous Christmas track, then I’ve got the playlist for you! This playlist has everything: pop-punk self-loathing and angst, a folk song about sending nudes written by a drag queen, highlight tracks from albums you never knew your favorite artists created, and Kanye West.
Every year I love rocking out to (read: making my friends suffer through) non-traditional Christmas songs. Carry on to discover some of my favorites, alongside other songs that definitely exist. Maybe you’ll find a track or two to add to your annual holiday rotation!
The Christmas Song by Weezer
Weezer's "The Christmas Song" is a tale of unrequited love whose melancholy impact is only intensified by the juxtaposed joyousness of Christmastime.
Ludacrismas by Ludacris
With a beat that is doing the absolute most, Ludacris' eponymous Christmas "classic" provides an honest look at the dark side of the holiday season.
Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight) by the Ramones
In this classic American punk rock Christmas song, the Ramones call upon Christmas' merriment and good times to ameliorate their relationship struggles.
Merry Xmas by Fetty Wap ft. Monty
Your Christmas tree isn't the only thing getting lit this year. Fetty Wap has been taking over the radio with hit after hit, and now he's entering new territory in this track by rhyming "baby" with "baby" over ten times.
I Won't Be Home For Christmas by Blink-182
A classic pop-punk, angst-filled, anti-Christmas Christmas song in which the protagonist is arrested for assault on workers dressed as elves on Christmas Eve.
Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto by James Brown
James Brown’s funk-infused approach to crafting Christmas classics shines through his whole holiday album A Soulful Christmas. This track gained a great deal of traction as hip-hop, R&B, and rap artists continue to reference it in their forays into festive fusion.
Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto by Snoop Dogg
This reimagining of the James Brown song of the same name comes from Death Row Records' 1996 album, Christmas on Death Row. Snoop Doggy Dogg is joined by Daz Dillinger, Nate Dogg, Tray Deee, and Bad Azz on this track to spread Christmas cheer to all lovers of G-funk.
Christmas Was Better In The 80s by the Futureheads
British post-punk revival group, The Futureheads, presents a killer combination of angst and nostalgia in "Christmas Was Better in the 80s."
Christmas Time by the Smashing Pumpkins
"Christmastime" is quintessential Smashing Pumpkins with eerie vocals and somewhat ominous lyrics backed with traditional yuletide musicality.
A Christmas Fucking Miracle by Run The Jewels
This gritty rap track features subtle holiday bells and piano motifs in its instrumental while the lyrics present a narrative that grapples with the duo’s disillusionment with music industry. Critiques of superficiality and greed are common throughout many non-traditional approaches to Christmas music.
Nothing For Christmas by New Found Glory
A heartwarming, jingle bell-laden pop-punk tune in which human connection is valued over material gifts.
Christmas At 22 by the Wonder Years
The Wonder Years' raw, acoustic "Christmas at 22" authentically reflects on the dissonance many young adults feel when returning home for the holidays from college.
Christmas in Hollis by Run-DMC
Featuring a jolly and groovy beat, Run-D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis" is a playful, upbeat and a boppin' way to spread some nontraditional Christmas cheer.
Christmas In Harlem by Kanye West
An updated version of Run-D.M.C's hip-hop Christmas standard. "Christmas in Harlem" features an awesome, smooth hook from Teyana Taylor and has several different versions featuring verses from Big Sean, Cam'ron, and CyHi Da Prynce.
Don't Shoot Me Santa by the Killers
The Killers tell the tale of a naughty-lister who has been offing neighborhood bullies negotiating with Santa Claus who sets his sites on assassinating the song's narrator.
Christmas Wrapping by Save Ferris
If The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping" has become too mainstream for you, Save Ferris has a hilarious cover that looks at Christmas from the Jewish perspective.
Santa Stole My Girlfriend by the Maine
This post-modern Santa is really getting around: kissing mothers, stealing girlfriends. I wonder what Mrs. Claus has to say about this.
The Season's Upon Us by the Dropkick Murphys
Dropkick Murphys have cornered the Celtic punk market and in "The Season's Upon Us" they poke fun at the family tension that has been known to reach its boiling point during the holiday season.
Xmas Has Been X'ed by NOFX
NOFX presents a playful critique of Christianity as it posits a world in which it has been established that Jesus Christ was merely a metaphor in popular religious texts and the holidays celebrating his existence have become null and void.
Oi! To The World by the Vandals
This ska-punk Christmas anthem was popularized by this cover by No Doubt.
Christmas Lights by Coldplay
Coldplay's "Christmas Lights" is yet another emotional reflection on a relationship that has fallen on hard times during what ought to be the happiest time of the year.
Deck Da Club by Ying Yang Twins
See also: "Carol of da Bellz." I wish I were joking.
December Is For Cynics by the Matches
Another tongue-in-cheek punk rock take on the holiday season! Can’t go wrong with a song that advocates hibernation through the winter season.
It Doesn't Often Snow At Christmas by Pet Shop Boys
This typically quirky song from the Pet Shop Boys gets to the point from its first lyric: "Christmas is not all it's cracked up to be."
Yule Shoot Your Eye Out by Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy's "Yule Shoot Your Eye Out" is both a model for the genre of nontraditional Christmas songs and my personal favorite on the list. That wordplay in the title? Freakin' classic.
Father Christmas by the Kinks
Angry, hilarious, ironic, and full of antithetical enthusiasm for the Christmas season. The Kinks deliver anything one could ever ask for in the ideal alternative Christmas jam.
Dick In A Box by the Lonely Island
This SNL digital feature from the Lonely Island is a commonly forgotten Christmas song. ‘Tis the season to bust out this hilarious anthem to the art of gift giving.
Forget December by Something Corporate
There is no shortage of punk-pop Christmas tracks that reflect on the loneliness and drudgery of the holidays. “Forget December” is a true testament to the emotional exhaustion of Cuffing Season™.
Christmas Song by Spose
This song is truly the saddest track on this list—a cautionary tale about the dangers of drunk driving and a plea to love those around you before it’s too late.
Donde Esta Santa Claus by ACADEMY ft. Terrye
I wouldn’t go so far as to actually suggest listening to this song, but it does exist and it qualifies as an alternative riff on the classic genre of Christmas tunes.
All I Want For Christmas Is Nudes by Trixie Mattel
Drag queen and folk musician Trixie Mattel brings her incredible sense of humor to this spin on “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” An absolute seasonal jam that, in this day and age, should become a standard.
Another Christmas Song by Stephen Colbert
The entire Stephen Colbert Christmas album is a phenomenally well-produced masterpiece. This track specifically highlights the corporatization of holiday music and the ridiculousness of the entire genre.
Mistletoe by Justin Bieber
This song, while painfully corny, never fails to bring a smile to my face. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama by Chance the Rapper & Jeremih
Chance the Rapper and Jeremih collaborated on a nine-track Christmas mixtape Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama that features its titular track to close out the project. The opening piano riff is reminiscent of the Vince Guaraldi trio’s jazz interpretations featured in the Charlie Brown Christmas special.