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An Abundance of Rock Christmas Songs

Bono’s finest cover is here somewhere
























I was planning on writing about rock Christmas songs, but as Mr. Google walked me through a few lists, I instantly became overwhelmed. I had no idea there were so many freaking Christmas songs. If I tried to compile any kind of definitive list, I’d still be writing next Christmas.

There have been Christmas albums of every genre: jazz, world music, rap, hip-hop, even multiple punk and metal albums. Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, and Kenny G. made huge fortunes off of their Christmas albums. The rock Christmas album I remember best is A Very Special Christmas, which celebrated its 25th anniversary a couple of years ago. Everyone was playing it on Christmas 1987, even my mother-in-law. It spawned several later albums as well. But there have been tons of other rock compilation albums, all the way back to the 1963 Phil Spector’s Christmas Album, which had the tragic distinction of being released on the day JFK was assassinated. And there appear to be Christmas rock singles almost beyond counting.

There are three categories of Christmas songs: traditional standards, original holiday songs, and original songs in which there is a mention of Christmas but they are really about something else. So here, in roughly chronological order, is an absolutely not-definitive list of rock Christmas songs, both well- and lesser-known:

Bobby Helms: Jingle Bell Rock (also covered by Halls and Oates)

Elvis Presley: Blue Christmas

Chuck Berry: Run Rudolph Run

Brenda Lee: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

The Ronettes: Frosty the Snowman

The Supremes: Twinkle Twinkle Little Me

Beach Boys: Little Saint Nick

Stevie Wonder: Someday at Christmas (also done by Mary J. Blige)

Otis Redding: Merry Christmas Baby (also done by Bruce Springsteen)

Bob Seger & The Last Heard: Sock It to Me Santa

James Brown: Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto

The Beatles: Christmas Time is Here Again

John Lennon: Happy Xmas (The War is Over)

Elton John: Step Into Christmas

The Kinks: Father Christmas

Bruce Springsteen: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Jethro Tull: Ring Out, Solstice Bells

Paul McCartney: Wonderful Christmastime

David Bowie (WITH BING CROSBY!!): Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

Pretenders: 2000 Miles

Queen: Thank God It’s Christmas

Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas (later covered by Far)

Prince: Another Lonely Christmas

Spinal Tap: Christmas with the Devil

Ramones: Merry Christmas

Run D.M.C.: Christmas in Hollis

U2: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (which was a cover of Darlene Love (from that ill-fated Phil Spector album I mentioned, and later performed by Death Cab for Cutie)

Eurythmics: Winter Wonderland

Stevie Nicks: Silent Night

Bon Jovi: Back Door Santa

Madonna: Santa Baby

John Mellencamp: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Henry Rollins: Twas the Night Before Christmas

Tom Petty: Christmas All Over Again

Pearl Jam: Let Me Sleep (It’s Christmas Time)

Mariah Carey: All I Want for Christmas is You (later covered by My Chemical Romance)

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Deck the Halls

Flaming Lips: Christmas at the Zoo

The Vandals: Oi to the World

Beck: The Little Drum Machine Boy

Sting: I Saw Three Ships

Smashing Pumpkins: Christmas Time

Insane Clown Posse: Santa’s a Fat Bitch

Eels: Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas

Cyndi Lauper: Early Christmas Morning

Dave Matthews Band: Christmas Song

Pat Benetar: Christmas in America

Blink-182: I Won’t Be Home for Christmas

Coldplay: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

White Stripes: White Christmas

Linkin Park: My December

Radiohead: Winter Wonderland

Long Blondes: Christmas is Cancelled

Ravenonettes: Come On Santa

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: All I Want for Christmas

Twisted Sister: Deck the Halls

Killers: Don’t Shoot Me Santa

Hollywood Undead: Christmas in Hollywood

Alice Cooper: Santa Claws is Coming to Town

Guns N Roses: White Christmas

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Lost Christmas Eve

Weezer: Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Lady Gaga: Christmas Tree

Train: Shake Up Christmas

Julian Casablancas: I Wish It Was Christmas Today

Kanye: Christmas in Harlem

Scott Weiland: O Holy Night

Patti Smith: We Three Kings

She and Him: The Christmas Waltz

(Editor adds: Bright Eyes: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas)

And what are my personal favorite Christmas songs? Without any question, The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping and The Pogues, Fairytale of New York.

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