Music Notes: Slight Christmas

Written by Jason P. Woodbury Category: Arts Issue: December 2017
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MUSIC NOTES: Slight Christmas: Five Offbeat Holiday Songs

Photo courtesy Adobe Stock
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock

Binaries are too easy. Supposedly, you’re a Stones guy or a Beatles gal. You’re team Coke or you’re team Pepsi. You either love Christmas music or you detest it. But in today’s heated social and political climate, we need to accentuate our commonalities more than ever. There’s plenty of room in the middle between extremes. Maybe you don’t actually hate Christmas music, you’re just sick of the “fa-la-la-la-las” and “Jingle Bells.” Let us help with five offbeat Yuletide cuts you won’t hear 15 times a day on KEZ all season long so you can find some cheery common ground.  

“Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” by Neko Case
Working her way through this Tom Waits classic, powerhouse folk-rock singer Neko Case drives home the melancholy and misery that often accompanies the holiday season. Pairs well with eggnog – extra rum.

“I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Julian Casablancas
Originally performed by Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan on Saturday Night Live in 2000, this jaunty earworm has become a Christmas standard. The Strokes singer Julian Casablancas recorded his own version in 2009, formulating the ideal synth-pop soundtrack to your office’s next holiday party.

“Last Christmas” by Jimmy Eat World
Mesa’s own alternative rockers Jimmy Eat World super-size the angsty charm of this 1986 Wham! hit, but let’s face it: The original’s pretty darn emo on its own. It’s a wistful heartbreaker perfect for winter drives through the desert.

“There’s a Star Above the Manger Tonight” by Red Red Meat
Chicago band Red Red Meat was known for deconstructing blues and rock music, but in breaking down this How the Grinch Stole Christmas ditty, it revealed the triple-sized heart at the song’s core.

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” by X
Legendary Los Angeles punks X supercharge their take on this 1934 classic. When Exene Cervenka sings about Santa headed your way, you get the sense you really don’t wanna be on his naughty list.