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Rock Christmas Songs

Rock

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 snow.

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 (1995)

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)

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 soundtracks.


Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas (1988)

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 de vivre.


The Smashing Pumpkins - Christmastime (1997)

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 (1988)

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 favourite artists.


The Crystals - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1963)

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 (2000)

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 year.


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 (1994)

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 (1998)

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 Day (1993)

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 25th.


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 time.


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) (1987)

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 message.


The Manic Street Preachers - Ghost of Christmas (2007)

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.


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