Jingle Punx started out as a joke among friends – a bunch of California punk guys playing revved up punk versions of Christmas standards. That joke has blossomed into six albums so far.
The Christmas tunes by the Jingle Punx make you think readily of bands like NOFX or Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and should the Punx decide to go full time, they'd probably generate a fast following from fans of those bands. As it is, they do great punk Christmas tunes, including their take on a favorite from my childhood, "Snoopy's Christmas," originally by the Royal Guardsmen.
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Punk rock Christmas tunes are rare; punk rock Chanukah songs are even rarer. This song is an incident that makes those songs rarer by one.
This slot is supposed to be for a cover of Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song" performed Aussie punks Yidcore, an all-Jewish punk group that plays covers of a lot of classic and contemporary Jewish songs.
In this case, the band has a version of Sandler's hit that calls out all of the punks who've been Jewish. They asked Sandler for permission to record it; he threatened to sue. As a result, rather than "Chanukah Song," you get Yidcore's response, "Why Won't Adam Sandler Let Us Do His Song?"
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You can't have a punk Christmas song list without having some anti-Christmas songs, and the first one comes courtesy of Snap-Her. For many years, this all-girl outfit picked up where the Runaways had left off, delivering fast, raw punched-up pop punk with more chutzpah than the boys doing it alongside them.
"I Hate Christmas" is typical fare for the band that also brought you "I Wanna Beavis You" and "Nice Girls (Don't Play Rock & Roll)." It's fast, hot and raw, and before you know it, Snap-Her has hammered you into submission with their frenzied brand of girl punk. After that, you may hate Christmas, but you'll love this band.
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Sure, the Bosstones play a perfect mix of third-wave ska and hardcore, and Dicky Barrett's voice sounds like he's got a throat full of gravel, but that's still not what makes this song so perfect. It's in the way that it's entirely bereft of the sarcasm that fills so many holiday punk tunes.
"This Time of Year" (originally appearing on a 2001 holiday promo CD) is a song about the band's favorite part of the holidays – the simple fact that they get everyone together. Sincerity like this is not at all uncommon for the Bosstones, but it's good to see it carry through to their holiday greetings as well.
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MDC is known for three things: their blistering heavy hardcore, their leftist political stance, and for the fact that their initials stand for something different on each and every one of their albums.
"Black Christmas" is another anti-Christmas Christmas tune, but despite the fact that the lines "The holidays don't fill me with cheer/I get a chill when they draw near" might be the happiest lines in the entire song, this anthem to seasonal depression is so over the top that it's hard to get dragged down by it.
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This Brighton band has, over the years, become known for producing silly yet tight blue-collar punk anthems, such as the classic "Banned From The Pubs." Included in that mix is 1999's Christmas tune, "I'm Getting Pissed For Christmas."
"I'm Getting Pissed For Christmas" is a track in which the band discusses their plans for the holiday, which strangely seems the same as every other day of the year. It involves pubs, friends and beer, and while the band may be trying to be bleak, it doesn't really seem like that bad of a time.
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Often referred to as “The Irish Clash,” Stiff Little Fingers is a Belfast-based punk outfit known for cranking out fiery, politically passionate tunes about growing up in the violence of Northern Ireland (the band still performs today, albeit with just one original member and only a fraction of their original intensity).
Taken from a live recording, the band’s version of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is a wonderful loose interpretation of the song, and it speaks well to the band’s style.
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While many punk bands have done Christmas songs, few have done an entire holiday album. The Vandals fall into this elite category with 1996’s Oi To The World!, an album featuring such instant Christmas classics as “A Gun For Christmas,” “My First Christmas (As A Woman)” and this, the title track.
“Oi To The World!” tells a story of a Christmas miracle taking place on a roof in the middle of a fight between punks and skins. No Doubt covered the tune a few years later, but didn’t nail it like the original.
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The secret to the Ramones' mastery of American punk rock was in the way they took ‘50s rock and roll and “doo-wop,” sped it up and ran with it. “Merry Christmas” fits right into this formula; it could be any ‘50s crooner belting it out, but it’s Joey Ramone doing it.
Taken from their 1989 album Brain Drain (which also featured "Pet Sematary", written for the film of the same name), “Merry Christmas” is an essential Christmas classic whether or not you’re looking at punk music. I mean seriously, who can argue with the sentiment of the line “Merry Christmas, I don’t want to fight tonight”?
Available on the album Brain Drain (Compare Prices)
Really, what Christmas would be complete without “Fairytale”? It has it all - love, betrayal, redemption and cursing.
This Pogues tune, which features a duet between Shane MacGowan and the English singer Kirsty MacColl, tells the story of a man in a drunk tank in New York City on Christmas Eve, as he reminisces about a relationship gone wrong. Even with the somber nature of the tune, it’s strangely uplifting and an essential part of my Christmas celebrations.
It’s not just me; the song has been heaped with accolades by VH1 UK for years now, and has been covered by countless bands and artists, including the Irish Tenors (who leave out the naughty bits).
Available on the album If I Should Fall From Grace With God (Compare Prices)