Better Christmas Music
Three days to go!
As a retail worker, I appreciate the sympathy of customers who comment on how sick I must be of Christmas music. You’re right, and you’d be surprised at how much I appreciate your empathy on a day-to-day basis.
But as a shameless lover of Christmas, dammit I want to enjoy some Christmas music too, I just can’t listen to Boney M or Elvis anymore, and I didn’t want to listen to Coldplay in the first place. The biggest let down was when I couldn’t stand the Fairy Tale of New York any more, I loved that song for it’s bitter outlook and oddly joyous anger, love and hate balanced in equal measure, and now I’m bored of it.
So as a geek and shameless metal fan, I go in search of better ways to musically revel in the season. Here are some favourites:
Chiron Beta Prime – Jonathan Coulton
Though you may be familiar with his work as performed by GLADoS at the end of the Portal games, Jonathan Coulton is actually a tremendously geeky and highly talented singer/songwriter who has released quite an extensive back catalogue under the Creative Commons licence, meaning that if you want to go out busking or put together a youtube video with some of his other works, you can so long as you don’t seize credit for yourself, it’s not cool, and both of you deserve better than that.
Whilst perusing some of Coulton’s more popular works like Code Monkey or RE: Your Brains, why not celebrate the season with the people of the Chiron Beta Prime asteroid mining facility? In this cheery vision of Christmas Future, humanity is justifiably under the complete control of intelligent machines who do what they feel is best for us, and make sure we’re kept busy, even during the holiday season. Creative Commons is about as Christmas-y as you can get with intellectual property!
Oh Tannenbaum – Psychostick [Rammstein Style]
Comedy metal band Pyschostick are massive nerds. If you need evidence, you need look no further than their love song for Bruce Campbell, or action ballad for Megaman, but these guys are also musically brilliant. While the humour may be dumb at times, take the time to listen and learn, they have a mastery of styles and at times some cunning word play, cut on each album with side-skits and outtakes.
Since their Christmas-themed EP the Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Hate Tour they’ve released a smattering of other seasonal metal anthems, most of which cannot be included because of the shameful language used. But we absolutely can show you their version of that classic German jingle O Tannenbaum in the style of Neue Deutsch Harte monsters Rammstein complete with a pastiche of the Sonne video.
Dark Morris – Steeleye Span
Ring in the season in style!
Sadly I couldn’t find any kind of official video for the folk-rock band’s thunderous Dark Morris, and that is a huge shame, because the song – and the entire album it can be found on – is based on Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith, and features the author himself as a producer, consult, vocal performer (not singer) and huge fan of the band. It begins with a haunting overture detailing the passage of Great A’Tuin through the stars under the weight of four elephants and a disc-shaped planet, and the tracks cover the nature of the witches of the disc, the Nac Mac Feegles, and of course the eponymous Wintersmith, father of ice.
My personal favourite, the Dark Morris, the dance that ushers in the winter under the promise that it will eventually leave and bring the summer behind it. Muted bells are worn, and a gap is left in the dance for the Wintersmith to occupy, because he must always dance alone in case he is tempted to stay. Find Steeleye Span’s rendition of the dance and listen. It may not be Christmas as such, but it’s definitely seasonal, and it’s definitely great.
Kidnap the Sandy-Claws – A Nightmare Before Christmas
Alright, this one may be a bit of cop-out, but tell me you don’t love it. The beloved “alternative” Christmas/Hallowe’en musical by Tim Burton took a meandering path to being a cult classic, but it was helped along massively by the dark humour and catchy songs, of which there are plenty of each. So why this one?
It’s so evil! Oogie Boogie may be our actual villain, but his adorable minions and master trick-or-treaters Lock, Shock and Barrel have a kind of good-natured malevolence about them, the wickedness of children who have never known anything else and whose minds are boggled by the kindly appearance of Saint Nick, rather than the giant red monster they’d plotted to trap and abduct in this beautifully harmonised piece.
So if you’re reaching out for something that’ll never appear on a “NOW! That’s what I call Christmas!” take these few examples as a jumping off point for you to begin exploring a world of very different Christmas music, no less joyful or celebratory of the time of year.
Share some of your favourites in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.