by Christopher Ryan
Christmas revelers have been listening to holiday music for decades. Bing. The Rat Pack. Elvis. Motown. Philly Soul. The Ramones. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Mariah. The list is endless.
And many out there may know the songs below, but, for me, James Gunn just added another fun collection of rare gems (and one perennial must-hear) that is worth shouting about.
“I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmas Is Here) – Old 97’s This song is woven into the plot in the Disney+ Marvel Special Presentation and works well as part of that light-hearted action comedy, but I suspect this song might become a classic. Full of hilarious misinformation about Christmas traditions, the song is fun and should become a bar sing-along right now.
“Dead By X-Mas” – Hanoi Rocks I’ll admit I cannot tell whether this band was a serious venture or a genius comedic sendup of glitter/hair bands, but the song is as madcap as the one used as the theme for director James Gunn’s Peacemaker series on HBO Max. The lyrics are deliciously goofy, and every hook and riff is text book hair metal. The jaunty chorus of “I’ll be dead by Christmas ho-hoho-o-ho” kind of says it all.
“Christmas Treat” – Julian Casablancas is a song you might know more from the Jimmy Fallen era of SNL. Catchy and ridiculously danceable, I am amazed it hasn’t become a bigger holiday staple. We get another chance to fix that here.
“Just Like Christmas” – Low What a cool tune. The music has a muted wall of sound feel but the vocals sit on top, crisp and clear and mesmerizing. A great car song for traveling to relatives’ or holiday parties, this is a gem.
“Christmastime“ – The Smashing Pumpkins As soon as you hear this, it clicks that, yeah, The Pumpkins had the perfect sound for a Christmas song. They deliver here. A beautiful track.
“Fairytale of New York (featuring Kristy McColl)- The Pogues Reportedly a huge holiday hit in Europe, The Pogues didn’t quite get the acclaim they deserved over here (beyond legendary cult status). The lyrics depict a couple singing in an NYPD drunk tank, trading insults, until the cops eventually join the singing to ring in the holiday. Only The Pogues could make this work. And they do. Classic.
“Christmas Wrappings” – The Waitresses The only indisputable holiday hit on the album, this Christmas classic serves as a bridge for the entire soundtrack, bringing the pop crowd over for a listen – and everyone will be better for it. A great way to introduce Top Ten fans to all these other great songs.
“Is This Christmas?” (Radio edit)- The Wombats Another song that should be on everyone’s holiday playlist. Great party shout along song. There’s even a middle part for the really drunk partiers to go “dododododo” before exploding into the chorus again. Down the shots, here we go!
“I Want an Alien for Christmas” – Fountains of Wayne For those who have everything, this song explains the perfect item for your Christmas wish list. Smile-inducing and goofy, this can be perfect as you shop for presents or as a catch-your-breath song after the rowdier party tunes on this album.
“Here It Is Christmastime” – Kevin Bacon & Old 97’s A great slow song, a dance-with-your-date-before-an-argument-starts gem, a get-all-them-feels-about-the-holiday tune, Kevin Bacon and Old 97’s bring this collection to an admirable close, one that kinda makes you wanna press play all over again.
Gunn gave us a fun holiday special to watch, and like everyone’s favorite uncle, backed it up with a second gift in this collection. Give it a try, and by the third listen, you’ll feel like these songs have always been part of your holiday tradition.