Strange Yule

Ho Ho Ho. ‘It’s Christmas’ as Noddy Holder of Slade is prone to shrieking like a demented banshee around this time of year. There won’t be any of him in this first Christmas list though. I’m only going to focus on unusual, weird or downright strange Christmas songs. Chances are you won’t hear any of these ditties while you frantically beat a path through a department store floor to that last ‘essential’ gift.

I’m not against the usual crop of Christmas songs – I even like some of them quite a lot.  However, even the best of songs can be ruined by ubiquity – the otherwise outstanding Fairytale of New York is a case in point – it’s great, but by the time January comes I’m heartily sick of it. So if your ears need a rest from all that Christmas muzak that’s being ladled into them, but you still want to get into a festive(ish) mood, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking for Wham and East 17, you’re not.

There must be a million Christmas No. 1 mis-fires out there – let everyone know if you can think of any that fit the bill.

1. Sufjan Stevens – Did I Make You Cry On Christmas (Well, You Deserved It)
The undisputed king of indie Christmas songs with intriguing titles steps forward with this gem from his Christmas album from a few years ago. The album features such worthy entries as Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! and  That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!  In the end though, this one wins out for having the nicest melody (if not the nicest sentiment).

. Y La Bamba – Senor Santa
A Spanish take on ‘Mr Sandman’ about Santa. Yup that’ll fit the bill. It’s not an instant classic to be sure, but this tune has, shall we say a unique charm and the backing track is erm… interesting.

3. The Ethiopians – Ding Dong Bell

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of Christmas Reggae right? There’s something about the skanking vibes of the Ethiopians that just scream out ‘winter forest scene with ginger biscuits and mulled wine’. Being the righteous blokes that they are they even manage to sneak in some sage yuletide advice “Go have your fun, but don’t overrun, cause remember that there is, plenty more to come”.

4. The Bloody Beetroots – Little Stars
This is a strange one, and was made even stranger when I first heard it, sometime in August. It really doesn’t seem like a Christmas song until quite a while into it. A really bizarre mishmash of ideas (I think it might reference a Coldplay song in there somewhere) – that somehow comes together to form a cute festive ditty. Then it ends abruptly.

5. Calexico – Green Grows the Holly
Calexico are named after a Mexico/California border town in the US.  Predictably they combine both southern US and  Mexican influences in their music. As such they are about the last band on earth that you would expect to have penned a Christmas song, with the possible exception of Throbbing Gristle (I’m fairly sure they don’t have one).

6. The Staple Singers – Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas

This is essentially a rant against the commercialisation of Christmas. Unfortunately for  the Staple Singers, they chose to deliver this worthy argument over a thumping gospel funk track that is pretty joyful sounding. If this is what Christmas without ‘the merry’ sounds like, well… count me in.

7. Yogi Yorgesson – I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas
Okay, this one’s just weird. Why is he replacing Js with Ys? I have no idea. Hey it’s Christmas!

If you’d like to listen to all the tunes consecutively – you know, like an old mixtape – check out the  youtube playlist.


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