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Volume 7, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Some songs not fit for Christmas carolers 

Stay Sick

Jason Gagnon

So we're getting pretty close to Christmas, and I'm sure you have all been swarmed with the usual holiday song list of oldies (some are also goodies), modern classics ("Christmas in Hollis" by Run-DMC comes to mind), current bands revamping old standards (none of which are really outstanding) and of course the yuk-yuk cheesy humor tracks like the hillbilly favorite "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" (please listen to Manic Hispanic's "Santa Got Run Over by My Chevy" instead). Well, those aren't the kind of tunes I like to listen to during the season that brings oh so many depressing feelings and memories to a lot of the world. Do you feel the same way? Wicked. Then please check out the following Xmas songs that tend to showcase the less marketable side of the holiday which glorifies commercialism over the birth of some kid lots of folks have devoted their lives to. 

"Fairytale of New York" - The Pogues featuring Kristy MacColl

Let's start this out with what I consider to be the greatest Christmas song ever written. The Pogues "A Fairytale of New York" is a lovely duet between the legendary Shane MacGowan and the late Irish songstress Kristy MacColl. But don't let the lush string arrangements and beautiful piano fool you into thinking this is a merry ballad. MacGowan begins the song with the words "It was Christmas Eve, babe / In the drunk tank" through his beaten and whiskey-fueled voice. It's the story of love gone wrong with MacColl's character lashing out at the man who stole her heart and dreams and Shane lamenting over his romantic mistakes. This is the Pogues at their best and an example of what a truly moving and powerful Christmas song should sound like.

"Don't Believe in Christmas" - The Sonics 

Moving on momentarily from romance to the heartbreak that comes upon discovering nothing under your tree (not even a lump of coal in your stocking) is the Sonics with "Don't Believe in Christmas." One of the coolest bands of the 1960s and arguably the greatest America garage rock band deliver a jumping tune about getting hosed on Christmas morning despite being good all year, listening to your parents and basically acting like a square in hopes of material reward. If you're a parent and can't afford to give the kiddies something, just let them listen to this song as they plot a Menendez redux.

"Oy Santa" - The Yobs

OK, so you might want to blame Santa Claus for your lack of gift giving. It's only natural because the guy doesn't exist and it will keep your cheap self out of the doghouse. Well, the Yobs (actually British power pop heroes the Boys) have got you covered with the definitely more adult-appropriate "Oy Santa." This very vulgar, bitter and absolutely punk rock anthem is equal parts venom and humor making it an essential to the list since the songs can't all be depressing. In fact, you should just go out and buy both Yobs Christmas albums that include such cheerful tracks as "Christmas in Jail."

"Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)" - The Ramones

All right, let's get back to the heartbreak with these last two selections. First up is a contribution from the greatest rock 'n' roll band of all time, the Ramones. "Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)" came later in their career but is still killer. The title says it all, and when Joey Ramone croons, "Christmas is the time when we break each other's hearts," it should be easily relatable to anyone who gets into fights with family, friends or whoever during what's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Hail the Ramones. 

"Homeless for Christmas" - Black Halos

To close things out we've got a song from just a few years ago from the best thing to come out of Canada since the Hanson Brothers, the Black Halos. To start off, this band can do no wrong in my eyes and should be adored by every fan of rock 'n' roll. Now their last release before reforming earlier this year was a holiday-themed split with their friends in Tuuli, and the highlight is the Halos' "Homeless for Christmas." Yes, it's another tragic tale of heartbreak, but the band's volatile mixture of pop, glam and snot-nosed punk a la the Dead Boys puts it a few steps above the rest. 

So go forth and rock with these atypical Christmas tunes and just remember that the holidays will be over soon enough, and then we can all get back to normal. 

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