They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but after you’ve heard ‘simply having a wonderful Christmas time’ interminably echoing through every store you dare enter, you just want to pull your hair out. The ultimate panacea for overplayed holiday tunes is a batch of unusual gems and surprising renditions of the songs we’ve known for years. Sit back, stream your yule log, and enjoy this selection of ten Britpop Christmas and holiday tunes.
1. Blur – The Wassailing Song
Blur’s rousing rendition of a medieval English Christmas carol was recorded during the initial Modern Life Is Rubbish sessions. The band members alternate vocals on the verses and sing the refrain together. As such, this is the only song in Blur’s entire discography on which drummer Dave Rowntree sings. A limited edition single containing this song was given away by Santa himself at their Christmas gig in 1992.
2. Oasis – Merry Xmas Everybody
Oasis gave their own twist to Slade’s classic ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ for the 2002 charity compilation, 1 LOVE. This is actually the second Slade cover the Gallagher brothers recorded. ‘Cum On Feel the Noize’ had previously been covered by Oasis in 1996 as a b-side to ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger,’ but that doesn’t really have the holiday spirit!
3. Pulp – I Believe In Father Christmas (live)
Pulp performed a one-time cover version of this Greg Lake (Emerson, Lake & Palmer; King Crimson) tune at a gig at London’s Powerhaus on December 23, 1992, several months after the release of their third album, Separations. The resulting recording is only available on bootlegs. Follow along with the lyrics at PulpWiki. NB: Please do not read the lyrics whilst listening to the recordings.
4. Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler – Home For The Holidays
Emmy The Great paired with her beau, Ash’s Tim Wheeler, for a Christmas album called This Is Christmas in 2011. The album is predominately original pieces the two wrote together. Check out ‘Zombie Christmas,’ ‘Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing),’ ‘Marshmallow World,’ and ‘Snowflakes.’
5. Ash – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
Or, if you’d prefer Ash performing a modern Christmas classic, here they are with an excellent cover of Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.’ This was a 2004 release for War Child.
6. Elastica – Father Christmas
Nothing says holidays like an Adam Ant cover. This Peel Session recording was broadcast on December 9, 1994. Qua qua da diddley qua qua.
7. Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews – Baby, It’s Cold Outside
The legendary Tom Jones teamed up with Cerys Matthews of Catatonia for this all-Welsh rendition of the Frank Loesser standard. The resulting single was released in 1999. And, really, Jones comes off as such a dirty old man that temperature should not deter Matthews from trying to get away from him!
8. Kula Shaker – Christmas Time (Is Here Again)
Kula Shaker takes on an atmospheric version of the Beatles’ signature Christmas tune. Crispian Mills and co. released two Christmas singles in 2010, this one and ‘Snowflake,’ which you can also listen to on YouTube.
9. Radiohead – Winter Wonderland
Radiohead wound up their December 18, 2002 Inside Out Night webcast with this seasonal classic. This, perhaps, seems a little more sentimental than the Radiohead we’re more used to, and, surprisingly it’s the closest we get to traditional caroling territory on our list.
10. St. Etienne and Tim Burgess – I Was Born on Christmas Day
And, as every good list should wind down (with an introduction from Mark Lamarr, that is), here is St. Etienne appearing on The Word in 1993 with Tim Burgess of the Charlatans to perform their hit, ‘I Was Born On Christmas Day.’ This was the lead track off their Xmas 93 single, which also included the song, ‘My Christmas Prayer,’ a cover of the 1959 Billy Fury song. The single also featured two instrumentals, ‘Snowplough‘ and ‘Peterloo.’
We wish the happiest of holidays to all our readers!