5 First Noel – Bad Religion
Now, for all you punk rock scrooges too apathetic and angry to deign to listen to a Christmas carol fear not! Bad Religion has come to the rescue with their power punk cover of First Noel. No, that wasn’t a typo. Yes, Bad Religion covers First Noel. Yes, that is completely hypocritical, but nobody cares because it is freaking awesome. Their famous three-part-punk-harmonies (self-coined “oozin’ aahs”) are in no shortage, but it is strange to hear them all belting out “NOEL, NOEEEEEEL”. Definitely amusing, First Noel as done by Bad Religion is a song you can laugh to, while feeling perfectly punk about your Christmas spirit.
4 Last Christmas – The XX
One of the stupidest Christmas songs to exist ever, perhaps second to Santa Baby, was made into an amazing experimental rock experience by amazingly talented band The xx. The words are second to the overwhelming sounds that The xx are so famous for combining. The vocal prowess is in full force, and The xx make Last Christmas into something much more honest than the original even comes close to being.
3 Carol of the Bells – Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Another famous rendition of a classic, the ever famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir takes on Carol of the Bells, a carol based on a Ukrainian folk chant. It has since evolved into one of the most well-known, and difficult to master, Christmas Carols. Leave it to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to do an astounding job. While the words are hard to make out, the sheer power of the choir’s combined voices, the mastery of harmony, and the delicate balance of joy and sorrow make this version of Carol of the Bells the most astonishing one. The words you do make out “songs of good cheer, merry Christmas, sweet silver bells” combined with all of the aforementioned talents, transforms Carol of the Bells from a piece of fantastic music to a moment of Christmas magic. There is an air of miraculous mystery, evoked by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in this version of Carol of the Bells that is unparalleled, and guaranteed to make the hairs on your arm stand up in sheer awe.
2 Silent Night – The Kills
Not a band you’d expect to cover a song about the birth of Jesus Christ, The Kills’ take on one of the most famous Christmas Carols and do a fabulous job with it. AlisonMosshart’s voice possesses an unexpected power for a Christmas carol. Jamie Hince’s impeccable guitar playing highlights Mosshart’s unique voice, and provides the melody, which we all know so well. The Kills rendition of the song makes a few lyrical changes, appealing to their actual demographic, and there is something decidedly creepy and lonesome about their version of Silent Night. . Whether or not you ‘believe’, this song still evokes a sense of bittersweet joy. As in the original there is still that sense of peace in the silent nights you spend with those you love.
1 White Christmas – Frank Sinatra
The epitome of the perfect, picturesque Christmas song, Frank Sinatra’s White Christmas is precisely what you want to be playing on Christmas Eve. Not only is Sinatra’s voice unparalleled for its beauty, but also the song itself is appealing to almost everyone who celebrates Christmas – whether they ascribe to any branch of Christianity or not. White Christmas serves as a bridge between generations. It is the Christmas song everyone can agree on, and everyone knows most of the words to. We all may butcher it, and Sinatra may be rolling in his grave at our off key crooning, but at least we’ve all come together in the true holiday spirit of love and joy. If there is any song to instantly put you in the mood for hot chocolate, snowflakes, and Santa, it’s White Christmas, as sung by the one and only Ol’ Blue Eyes.
The delicate beauty of the Christmas song is hard to find, and there are few who can do it without coming off as kitschy… or as if they’ve sold out entirely. Honorable mention goes to Rancid for writing their own Christmas carolXMas Eve (She Got Up and Left Me), which all you punk rockers should give a listen to. No matter what musical subculture you ascribe to, or what, if any, religion you follow, you cannot help but love these five Christmas covers. They are done with grace, ingenuity, and that precise, starry-eyed joy that Christmas should evoke in all us kids from one to ninety two.