In 2007, I decided I wanted to put together a compilation of “alternative” Christmas songs, as an antidote to the same usual songs that we all hear in shops and on telly every December. I crowdsourced suggestions for the tracks from my then-LiveJournal followers, and posted the results – a twenty-odd track mix that was deliberately timed so as to fit on a CD – as a downloadable file for everyone else to try out. It proved quite popular, so much so that it’s outlasted my LJ, following me over to this blog. Each year I repost it, and some years I tweak it slightly.
I think it’s quite nicely reflective of how I feel about Christmas and Christmas songs: in that while on the one hand I’m a cynical Generation Y-er who does get somewhat fed up of Wizzard and Slade pretty quickly, I actually generally like Christmas and most of its trappings a lot, and there are loads of festive classics that I genuinely, unironically, love. So yes, it does have the Long Blondes lamenting a failed love affair, Rilo Kiley telling a tale of a destitute family living in their car, and Loudon Wainwright III singing about the Iraq War; but it also contains the Darkness’ ridiculously cheesy and optimistic attempt to create a modern-day Christmas classic (I think they very nearly succeeded), Half Man Half Biscuit pointing out that “It’s clichéd to be cynical at Christmas”, and a cut from Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You. And it contains not one, but two versions of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, because that is the greatest Christmas song ever.
(Indeed, having the Carey song in there is my one concession to including “songs you always bloody hear at Christmas”, but I doubt it’s one anyone sensible would disagree with. If I allowed myself to go a bit further in that direction, I’d probably include Jona Lewie, The Waitresses and The Pogues. But I’d rather have a few lesser-heard indie covers in there instead.)
And now, here’s the new stuff:
Each year I’ve done this in the past, I’ve provided it directly as a downloadable link. I’ve felt increasingly uncomfortable about doing this in recent years, however – partly because it’s been attracting more and more listeners, and partly because (although a fair few of the songs are from one-off, out-of-print compilations) it’s simply far easier to legally download music than it used to be, so I don’t really think I should just be giving away an hour and a half of other people’s work for free.
So the 2013-onwards version, rather than being a RAR-file download, is instead a streaming playlist at Mixcloud. You can still listen to the whole thing, but now in a way that means it’s being legally streamed and the artists in question will actually get royalties for it. As a lot of the tracks come from the 2000 XFM compilation It’s A Cool Cool Christmas, meanwhile, I’m also adding my usual exhortation that if you listen to the album, you sling a few quid in the direction of its original charity partner The Big Issue Foundation. Because it’s Christmas, and nobody should have to be involuntarily homeless at Christmas.
To make up for it only being streamable, I’ve added a few tracks (some new, and some that had been dropped in previous years) to make it a bit longer (since there’s no point trying to constrain it to a CD length). So it now contains 27 tracks, and is just short of 90 minutes long. Here’s the full tracklisting:
1. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmas Time Is Here (2:44)
2. Alicia Witt – I’m Not Ready For Christmas (3:46)
3. Murray Gold & Neil Hannon – Song For Ten (3:29)
4. Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You (4:01)
5. Fountains of Wayne – I Want an Alien For Christmas (2:19)
6. Loudon Wainwright III – Christmas Morning (3:49)
7. Low – Just Like Christmas (3:08)
8. The Ronettes – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (2:41)
9. The Ventures – Sleigh Ride (2:22)
10. Grandaddy – Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland (2:59)
11. Bright Eyes – Blue Christmas (2:19)
12. Eels – Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas (2:48)
13. The Vandals – Oi To The World (2:15)
14. The Beach Boys – Little Saint Nick (2:10)
15. Zombina & The Skeletones – A Chainsaw For Christmas (3:11)
16. The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight) (2:06)
17. The Kinks – Father Christmas (3:43)
18. Rilo Kiley – Xmas Cake (5:24)
18. Jonathan Coulton – Chiron Beta Prime (2:51)
20. Spitting Image – Santa Claus Is On The Dole (3:48)
21. The Long Blondes – Christmas is Cancelled (4:29)
22. Half Man Half Biscuit – It’s Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas (3:48)
23. She & Him – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (3:42)
24. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Christmas Eve (1:51)
25. The Darkness – Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) (3:39)
26. Badly Drawn Boy – Donna and Blitzen (4:19)
27. My Chemical Romance – All I Want For Christmas Is You (3:45)
If you missed the embedded player at the top of the page… well, it’s at the top of the page. But you can also listen directly on the Mixcloud page here. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!
(And if you really are desparate to get the album as MP3s that you can put on your phone or other device, then if you follow me on Twitter or know me on Facebook, get in touch and I might be able to furnish you with last year’s 80-minute version.)