By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Low, "Little Drummer Boy"
Further evidence that Mormon is another word for drug-free stoner. (Scholtes)
The New Christy Minstrels,
"Tell It on the Mountain"
White gospel was never so giddy, so infectious, so white. (Scholtes)
The Pogues, "Fairytale of New York"
Not just Shane MacGowan's "Blue Christmas" but his It's a Wonderful Life, this sweeping ballad of dreams and co-dependency in Irish America is so graceful and disarming, it could make Maggie Thatcher choke up. Sung as a duet by the late Kirsty MacColl and the nearly late MacGowan (currently doing his best Bob Stinson impression), the song tells the classic story of drunk meets junkie, drunk loses junkie, drunk talks junkie into believing his bullshit again. Raise your glass to the strings, which MacGowan arranged. Here's to him seeing another Christmas. (Scholtes)
Run-D.M.C., "Christmas in Hollis"
It's a rapper's delight: Chicken and collard greens on the table, a Yule log in the fireplace, and a million dollars of stolen cash in Run's pocket. (If anyone asks where the money came from, tell 'em Santa put it there!) In this Christmas classic, which uses samples from "Jingle Bells" and the original "Back Door Santa," Run-D.M.C. describe Kris Kringle as a random Queens resident who's chillin' with his dog in the public park, lugging around a big bag. It's only a matter of time before the kids start asking, "Mommy, is Santa homeless?" (Maerz)
The Tryfles, "Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)"
In this stroke of high-concept genius, the now forgotten garage rockers somehow came up with the idea to meld two standards, the old Van Morrison war horse "Gloria" and the even older Mozart Christmas pageant classic "Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)." The effect is both funny and strangely uplifting: As the male vocalist shouts out the letters "G-L-O-R-I-A," the female singer overlays the heavenly refrain, "Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ri-a, in egg-shells-this-day-ay-ay-o." I discovered the song after an impulse purchase of A Midnight Christmas Mess, a 1984 anthology of novelty holiday songs put out by Midnight Records. There are other memorable numbers on the album (which skews heavily toward obscure East Coast garage rock). But none are so, um, glorious as the Tryfles' contribution. (Mike Mosedale)
The Vandals, "Oi to the World"
Just in time for Jesus' birthday, Dave Quackenbush asks the tough rhetorical questions: What if God gave a shout-out to both the Southeast Asian kids and the skinheads? Must we all kill one another with nunchakus and Indiana Jones swords? Why can't all multicultural punks just get along? Somewhere in a synagogue far away, God's answering, Oi vey. (Maerz)