While James Packer’s new love interest is spreading festive cheer with guests at Melbourne’s Crown Resorts on New Year’s Eve, after Christmas in Aspen with her billionaire boyfriend, not everyone’s a fan of the American warbler Mariah Carey.
Trying to find the happy medium between Billy Mac from Love Actually and Michael Buble for the office playlist, Business Insider put together these alternatives to save your sanity and still keep you in a festive mood.
Merry Christmas to all.
How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly
The Australian national bard’s bittersweet song of yearning, family, love and misadventure has an anthemic quality, as well as a sense of cicadas in the summer heat. Get the guitar out on Christmas arvo and sing along.
White Wine In The Sun by Tim Minchin
As usual the Australian comic and musician doesn’t hold back, with sharp observations about “the Westernisation of a dead Palestinian press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer”, plus a serious dig at organised religion, but in between it’s a sweetly gentle song about family and how he really likes Christmas.
Intonent Hodie by The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra
The Sydney-based Australian Brandenburg Orchestra produces an stunning annual Christmas concert called Noel! Noel! – the album of the same name is worth having in the Christmas collection – and this short, sweet 12th century Cantia is a tribute to St Nicholas, patron saint of Russia and children.
Angels We Have Heard On High by Sufjan Stevens
The Detroit-born folkster spent 5 years creating his massive 2006 album Songs for Christmas, an electric mixed bag of 42 carols and original tunes from traditional songs to originals such as a brilliant O Come O Come Emmanuel, a sweet ditty about calling grandma called ‘Put The Lights On The Tree’ and this piece of loveliness.
In Dulci Jubilo by Mike Oldfield
English musician Mike Oldfield is the guy who set Richard Branson on the path to untold riches with his instrumental album Tubular Bells. It’s 40 years since he released this prog rock version of the JS Bach Christmas carol, which, back in its day, hit No. 4 on the UK singles charts.
The Wassailing Song by The Grizzly Folk
Wassailing was a medieval tradition of door-to-door singing for Christmas cheer – a sort of free pub crawl. British popsters Blur did a version of this song about 20 years ago, but this one is worth watching simply for the compilation of British winter festivals featured in the clip.
2000 Miles by KT Tunstall
As KT Tunstall says: “Here’s a song good enough to not be a Christmas song”. Originally by The Pretenders – Chrissie Hynde gives good heartache, longing and joy – it’s simply a beautiful song, full stop.
Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis by Tom Waits
Worth it for Tom’s husky rendition of Silent Night in the lead up to this amusing, melancholic, brilliant down-and-out love story. It’s the American How to Make Gravy.
The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth by Bing Crosby & David Bowie
How’s this for a strange pairing? Listen for the lead up jokes, like Bing asking if the Thin White Duke likes old music and he says yeah, John Lennon…
A great little duet that shows you can rework a classic with style.
Fairytale of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
Lilting, brutal, funny, melancholic- “Happy christmas your arse I pray god it´s our last” – this otherwise rollicking and fine duet of addiction, lost hope and opportunity has the ability to make you both smile and tear up. And miss the late MacColl’s fine voice.
WARNING: Some NSFW lyrics that may cause offence.
It Must Be Santa by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s 34th studio album, Christmas in the Heart, was released in 2009 to feed homeless Americans. It Must be Santa has all the qualities of a drinking hall ditty with its call-and-response approach, and nothing says season’s greetings quite like Dylan’s growl.
Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses
You have to be old enough to remember the start of the 80s and this US post-punk band (best known for ‘I Know What Boys Like’). It’s the anthem for anyone who’s feeling a bit over it. A jaunty ode to unreliable dates and the possibility of skipping Christmas that sweeps you up in its joy.
Carol Of The Bells by The Bird And The Bee
This Californian indie pop duo give a shimmering, Cocteau Twins-like feel to an old four-note Ukrainian folk chant that’s been adapted countless times over the last 90 years.
Su la cetra amorosa by Tarquinio Merula
Merula was a 17th century early Baroque Italian composer of dubious morality when it came to his students. Yet this jaunty madrigal skips with a joy that’s an antidote to the sombre, cheesy carol crooners. The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra performs a fine version on its A Brandenburg Christmas album.
Driving home for Christmas by Saint Etienne
Older readers may recognise this song was originally by husky-voiced Chris Rea. This sweet makeover by this English pop trio, features on the cheekily titled A Glimpse of Stocking, a Christmas album released three years ago for fans only. Thankfully, the digital version is now for sale (or hear it on MySpace).
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Johnny Cash
Look, if we’re going to go there, the Man in Black is the guy I want to follow, especially with the “best Christmas present I ever had – June Carter Cash” in a duet. From the good ol’ days of TV Christmas specials. And for the religiously inclined, that’s Rev Billy Graham on the lounge chair.
Christmas In Hollis by RUN-DMC
The ’80s quality of the video from these Queens hip hoppers is pleasure enough, but they just know about how to rap it right.
Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto by Snoop Dogg
The artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg captures the Snoopgeist with his rapping medley of classic Christmas lines mingled with his funked up references to life in the ghetto.
Everyone sing along now: “On the first day of Christmas my homeboys gave to me…”
Clean for Christmas by James Brown
Now is there a more noble goal than the one the Godfather of Soul set himself in this song?
Christmas Song by Tinavie
With its Cafe del Mar-chilled beats, simple melody and Kate Bush-esque vocals, this Russian band’s song doesn’t have much to do with the season except for its regular plugs for December 25. Chillax and enjoy.
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