For no particular reason at all we decided that you only need
about 22 songs to keep your rock & roll heart on an even keel
over the Christmas season. No other time of the year lets you
exhibit your inner party animal so isn't it sweet that rock bands
around the world have marked the occasion so we can headbang in the
You can read about our fave Christmas rock songs below which
appear in no particular order. And if you are so inclined please
let us know what other greats we've left out.
Top Rock Christmas Songs List
The Flaming Lips - Christmas At The Zoo
These modern psychedelia exponents certainly have Christmas in
their hearts having filmed an entire movie called 'Christmas On
Mars' over a 7 year period that eventually was released in 2008.
And their seasonal art doesn't end on celluloid as exemplified by
their covers of 'Little Drummer Boy', 'White Christmas' and this
typically whacked out original called 'Christmas At The Zoo'. The
song appeared on the band's otherwise non jingle-belling 7th
album 'Clouds Taste Metallic' from 1995.
Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
1973 was some Christmas for classics as Slade' 'Merry Xmas
Everybody' and Wizzard's 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday'
battled out for the number one slot. Unfortunately for Roy Wood's
Wizzard, Slade won the day but that hasn't stopped this stomper
from working its way into the fabric of perennial Christmas
Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas
He may not do much for us outside of December but we like nothing
better than hitting the highways and byways each Christmas with
this Chris Rea song ringing in our ears.
Elton John - Step Into Christmas (1973)
Another seminal release from that magic Christmas of 1973 (see
also Slade and Wizzard). Elton John's single was backed by 'Ho! Ho!
Ho! (Who'd Be a Turkey at Christmas)' on the flipside but where
that has been quickly forgotten 'Step Into Christmas' remains as
popular today as it did on its release. John and his lyricist
Bernie Taupin wanted 'Step Into Christmas' to have a wall of sound
feel a la Phil Spector and to an extent they were successful. What
sets 'Step Into Christmas' apart, however, is its unsurpassed joie
The Smashing Pumpkins - Christmastime
Who'd have guessed that the Smashing Pumpkins were such softies at
heart? Well, we've got to thank the makers of 'A Very Special
Christmas' (an ongoing Christmas series that supports the Special
Olympics) for coaxing this beautiful Christmas song from Billy
Corgan and his mates. Resplendent in all manner of Christmas sounds
it also revealed a joyful Corgan in full wide-eyed childlike mode.
A forgotten gem.
Darker My Love - Snow Is Fallen (2010)
A blissful snowstorm of guitars from this L.A. Act bent on turning
their riffs in the direction of our end of year celebrations. Watch
this become a favourite as the years turn by.
The Pretenders - 2000 Miles (1983)
Coldplay's 2007 cover probably refocused attention on the original
'2000 Miles' by the Pretenders. It is one of those Christmas songs
that has been bubbling under for years until it finally makes it as
a perennial December favourite. Nice addition too with wholesome
lyrics and a sweet jangling centrepiece.
Daniel Johnston - Christmas In The Looney Bin
Taken from a full-length Christmas cassette release called 'Merry
Christmas' from cult artist Daniel Johnston. Incredibly lo-fi as
you'd expect but as affecting as ever from one of Kurt Cobain's
The Crystals - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Crystals were one of the prized girl groups signed to Phil
Spector's Philles Records in the 60's. They, along with several
others like the Ronnettes and Darlene Love, contributed to
Spector's Christmas album which remains one of the most
illuminating seasonal collections ever. 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed
Reindeer' does the hero Santa helper justice and in the process
became the definitive version of this much loved standard.
Run DMC - Christmas In Hollis (1987)
Run DMC give it lots of brass, a stop-start beat, plenty of word
volleys with the result that 'Christmas In Hollis' becomes a
Christmas tune out of sync with everything that came before it. You
should remember it's appearance in the Bruce Willis action movie
set at Christmas called Die Hard?
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Santa Claus
Is Coming To Town (1975)
Although the boss never recorded a studio version of this
traditional standard he tends to give it a live workout each
Christmas he takes to the stage. And the 'My Hometown' single off
his legendary 'Born In The USA' album included a 1975 concert
recording of the song that still gets lots of airing each December.
Typically Springsteen gives his all and his band add to the general
gaiety, all of which adds up to a hugely enjoyable affair.
The Webb Brothers - Every Day Is Christmas
Jimmy Webb's 2 sons shone for a short time, creating a wonderful
album in 'Maroon'. This song appeared around the same time and was
snapped up by one of the best alternative Christmas albums ever
called 'It's A Cool, Cool Christmas'. This has a retro heart which
is something that works particularly well at this time of
U2 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (1987)
While Darlene Love's original is still what we all call on each
Christmas, U2 still managed to give this classic their own
energetic reworking. With the Edge supplying gorgeous harmonies and
Bono in particularly festive spirit 'Christmas (Baby Please Come
Home)' was one of the standouts from the brilliant inaugural, and
still the best, 'A Very Special Christmas' compilation series. U2
haters, it's time to take a holiday.
The Dandy Warhols - Little Drummer Boy
You'll spot this version of the classic 'Little Drummer Boy'
dotted around our site but can you blame us given what Portland
band the Dandy Warhols managed to achieve. 'Little Drummer Boy',
the normally shy and retiring sort is given substances and against
his better nature decides to consume them. In the aftermath a rock
monster emerges with all the original constituent parts in their
right place but fuelled with the spirit of every rock star that
preferred their TV's in the swimming pool rather than on the corner
cabinet. Yep, it's crazy but also utterly magical.
Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas
Originally written as a b-side to the 'Cancer For The Cure' single
this Eels song made it onto the Jeepster Records compilation 'It's
A Cool, Cool Christmas', giving it a new lease of life. Mark E
Everett is in unusual tip top form providing a rollicking good-time
anthem for the season.
St. Etienne & Tim Burgess - I Was Born On Christmas
In 1993 the dreamiest indie pairing was undoubtedly Sarah
Cracknell from St. Etienne and Tim Burgess from the Charlatans.
Their Christmas collaboration may not have performed as well as
they had hoped back in the early 90's but it has achieved
impressive traction in the intervening years. Not difficult to see
why because 'I Was Born On Christmas Day' goes at it full pelt with
a driving beat and intermittent bells. The song was written for St.
Etienne member Bob Stanley would was actually born on December
Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody (1973)
Christmas tunes don't get much more recognisable than this one
from Slade. It was released in 1973 and immediately went to number
one. Such was 'Merry Christmas Everybody's popularity that it
stayed at the top until mid January 1974. Noddy Holder's
shredded vocals give the song a unique sound but it does make for a
nice change to hear Noel Gallagher's much quieter version (recorded
for the TV's 'The Royal Family' Christmas special) from time to
Calexico - Gift X-Change (2000)
Another modern entry from the XFM curated charity compilation
'It's A Cool, Cool Christmas'. This time it is the loose and
freewheelin' Calexico who went all hushed and demure for their
original tune 'Gift X-Change'.
The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight)
Probably one of the last groups you'd expect to come up with a
Christmas song, especially one that exposes their softer sides.
This is post-punk with simple chord structures and an even simpler
The Manic Street Preachers - Ghost of Christmas
The Welsh trio gave this Christmas song away free on their website
in December 2007 as a thank you to their fans. And it was obvious
they understood how to construct a decent Christmas tune as it
included all the calling cards of the season, e.g. catchy sax solo,
intermittent church bells and a decent singalong chorus.
The Raveonettes - The Christmas Song (2004)
This Danish duo have never really move beyond indie circles
despite writing a smooth and cool sets of songs. This one is
perfect Christmas fodder and was included in the 3rd episode in the
'Maybe This Christmas' compilation series. There are plenty of
pretty tinseled lyrics to go with the frothy vocals.
Chuck Berry - Run Run Rudolph (1958)
A true rock and roll Christmas song from Chuck Berry that has
appeared on countless movies like 'Cast Away' and 'Home Alone'. The
production may seem a little sparse compared to the oft softly
padded Christmas repertoire but that doesn't for one minute take
from 'Run Run Rudolph's undeniable spirit.