Christmas is arguably the most universally-popular and celebrated holiday of all, possibly because it means different things to different people, giving it a wide range of appeal.
For Christians, it’s the time of year they celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Others enjoy the traditional, festive side of the holiday with all the tinsel and wrappings and time with family. For others, Christmas is about the magical excitement of Santa Claus bringing gifts. You may even celebrate with a combination of all three.
For those who celebrate, there’s something for everyone — even those wonderful pop-culture fringe weirdos whose sense of humour runs to the creepy and macabre. You know the type: the ones who skip Miracle on 34th Street and reach for The Nightmare Before Christmas and Die Hard instead (it so totally counts as a Christmas movie).
If your response to typical Christmas music like Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You is “No thanks!” here’s a list of the Top Five irreverent Christmas songs for your listening pleasure. (Caution, these songs are not for children or the easily offended.)
1) A new, but not to be missed, Christmas song is, I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here) sung by the band Old 97’s in The Guardians of the Galaxy’s Holiday Special, released on Disney+ on Nov. 25, 2022. With lyrics like “He’s compelled his creepy elves to do his every wish, one sought to be a dentist, now he’s sleeping with the fish,” it’s delightfully deranged.
2) An original Indigenous Christmas song by Shoshoni Elder Oldhands, Stuck in the Smoke Hole of our Tipi pokes fun at the idea of a jolly fat Santa trying to deliver gifts to a tipi. I’m not really sure if it’s alright that I enjoy this one so much, but I do. On the surface, it’s a humorous look at how an Indigenous tribe might react to encountering Santa if they’re unfamiliar with the tradition. On a deeper level, it could be a commentary about how settler ideologies and traditions were imposed on Indigenous Peoples, but that’s just my take on it and I in no way speak for the songwriter. I just felt it deserved inclusion on this list of alternative Christmas songs.
3) Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. Written by Randy Brooks, the novelty Christmas song, a classic to many, was originally performed by Elmo Shropshire and Patsy Trigg in 1979. While harm to the elderly isn’t my personal cup of tea, some people really get a kick out of it — no pun intended.
4) While more dark than whimsical or zany, somehow the rather disturbing White Winter Hymnal by Robin Peckhold, which doesn’t even mention the holidays or winter, tends to have a spike in plays on online platforms on Christmas Eve each year. Despite chilling lyrics about snow turning as red as “strawberries in the summertime,” the melody seems to put listeners under a spell. While the internet has speculated the song could be about decapitation, the writer has said “It’s kind of vaguely not about anything.”
5) This list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from Weird Al. The Night Santa Went Crazy will check all the boxes for those who love horror-flick-and-holiday-crossover vibes, as Santa loses his mind and makes “reindeer sausage” among other mayhem.