Christmas is one of the best holidays for DIY projects. Everything from crafted reindeer to tin-foil wrapping paper to make-shift last minute gifts get brought out during this time of year. So why shouldn’t the bands of today that are praised for starting out DIY also join in? Indie bands write some of the best Christmas songs because they typically twist the meaning of the holiday spirit in ways other groups haven’t thought of. Also, they are always guaranteed to do something really weird with an arrangement of a cover song, so any time an indie Christmas record or compilation comes out I always get excited to see how a traditional song gets transformed. Here are my top ten picks for best Indie Rock Christmas songs:
10. “Blue Christmas” by Bright Eyes–Though this song will never be topped after both Elvis and Porky Pig sang it, Bright Eyes does a solid job and keeps it pleasantly simple.
9. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Death Cab For Cutie–For as ballad-worthy as this song is, Death Cab keeps it interesting instrumentally, rather than vocally, which is a decision I feel is only appropriate for holiday songs.
8. “Wonderful Christmastime” by The Shins–The Shins rock a mean tambourine on this track, as well as a multitude of other percussion instruments, that just boost the energy in such a traditional Christmas song.
7. “Oh You (Christmas Blues)” by LCD Soundsystem–LCD Soundsystem was just a cool band to begin with, and then they made an “indietronic” Christmas song that sounds like no other Christmas song in existence.
6. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by She & Him–I’m not a big Zooey Deschanel fan, but I love the movie Elf, and was pleasantly surprised to hear how different this version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is compared to the one she sings in the film.
5. “Alcoholiday” by Better Off Dead–Better Off Dead is a local bar-hopping band based in New York who wrote this folk/blues-inspired song for a Christmas charity album, A King Family Christmas, several years ago and I absolutely fell in love with it when I first heard it live.
4. “Christmas All Summer Long” by Deer Tick–This is another folky/blues rock jam, but it really makes me want to drink a whole quart of eggnog and do the twist. It’s just that up-beat, unlike all of the break-up stories most modern Christmas songs tell.
3. “Sleigh Ride” by fun.–fun. rarely impresses me as an indie-gone mainstream group, but this song is perfect for driving around shopping for last minute presents. It’s just so poppy, catchy, and, well, fun!
2. “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” by The Killers–Apart from the fact that we celebrate a holiday which involves a man breaking and entering every house in the world, this song makes Santa even more creepy. That, and it has a great music video to accompany it.
1. “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” by Tegan and Sara–This is my favorite indie Christmas song simply because Tegan and Sara are the only group I know who could successfully pull off a cover of song done originally by Alvin and the Chipmunks and make it work so well without being too cheesy or over worked.