Have Yourself an Indie Christmas – Part 1

That’s right people, it’s December, there’s no escaping it, Christmas is coming. So either hop on board the Noël express or get out of the way because coming straight at you are my top 12 (For the 12 days of Christmas obviously. Not because I miscounted and couldn’t bear to axe any of the songs or anything) ‘indie’ Christmas songs.

I set out with the intent to compile a list of truly ‘underground’ yuletide anthems but I kind of meandered away from that and basically ended up just making a list of my favourite Christmas songs… However I maintain that it’s not completely ‘mainstream’ due to the very deliberate lack of Slade, Wizzard and Band Aid. I believe that there will be a good smattering of tunes that you have not heard before so if you despise the songs by the aforementioned bands as much as I do then I have gifted you with some new festive tunes to indulge in. I hope it puts you in the festive mood dear readers. (Credit to Zoe and Lily for most of the good entries)

Disclaimer: The words ‘Christmas’, ‘Yuletide’, and ‘Festive’ will be used to near unbearable amount in this article.

12. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Slow Club

A stellar cover of Darlene Love’s 1963 hit taken from the boy girl duo’s 2009 EP ‘Christmas, Thanks for Nothing’. The rest of the EP is a bit mopey as I’ve found with a lot of these Indie band’s holiday albums but this song really spells out the pure unadulterated joy that Christmas affords us to feel when it comes around each year.

11. Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight) – Ramones

The Ramones tell us in typical punk rock Ramone fashion that although everyone is basically awful to each other almost all of the time we can all pull it together for that one day on the 25th and say that we love each other ‘Cause Christmas ain’t the time for breaking each other’s hearts’. Albeit it seems the Ramones couldn’t follow their own rules as the album the song is taken from Brain Drain was to be bassist Dee Dee Ramone’s last.

10. I Believe In Father Christmas – Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Due to its nice sounding Christmassy melody, the bleak and bittersweet meaning of the song is more often than not completely overlooked. With music by Greg Lake and lyrics by ‘Prog rock hero’ Peter Sinclair the musician states the song is a protest of the commercialisation of Christmas whereas the lyricist claims the words are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief. But who cares about deeper meaning, if you stop paying attention after the seemingly hopeful opening line ‘They said there’ll be snow at Christmas’ it makes for a lovely, warming listen.

9. The Christmas Waltz – She & Him

You may well hate She & Him for their cloying hipster appeal (Give them a chance honestly). But no matter what you think of them you cannot possibly resist their 2011 yuletide covers album ‘A Very She & Him Christmas’. The marvellous production and arrangement from M ward coupled with the dulcet tones of indie scene darling Zooey Deschanel make for the perfect mix of merrily cheesy and yet credible at the same time. This is a Christmas album pulled off with a sense of style and panache, but the appropriate amount of festive fun too.

8. Driving Home For Christmas – Lucy Rose

I must say that I’m not really too keen on the original Driving Home for Christmas but Joni Mitchell/Neil Young inspired future singer-songwriter superstar Lucy Rose does a wonderful interpretation. The John Lewis advertising department’s mouths are probably salivating as we speak at the thought of this in one of their Christmas ads. (Just saying; ‘Somewhere only we know’ isn’t even a Christmas song…) If you like this she has also done a first-rate ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ for Radio 1’s live lounge.

7. Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby & David Bowie

So it must be admitted that most of you will know this for the hilariously surreal video taken from Bing Crosby’s 1977 television Christmas special. As if Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing together isn’t weird enough already we all get to enjoy some incredibly lack lustre scripted dialogue about ‘Christmas time in the Bowie household’ and how Bing thinks modern music is ‘marvellous, some of it really fine’. But what really makes this piece of TV gold is Crosby’s absolute refusal to acknowledge or even make eye contact with Bowie throughout the entirety of the song. The Thin White Duke’s desperate attempts to catch Bing’s eye culminate in a glorious look of frustration and open contempt at 3:32.

Come back tomorrow for Davy’s top 6 on Cultured Vultures!

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