Six refreshing, unconventional holiday songs


By Claire Guo, Staff Reporter

Holiday songs drive me absolutely chestnuts. If I could drive, I would tear the radio out of my car, smash it on the ground, get back in the car and roll over the smashed radio. Then I would regret my emotional outburst, fix the car, fix the radio, and change the channel.

Fortunately, the Spoke does not stand for generalities, and I must admit that there are unique, agreeable holiday songs. Here are six hidden gems that don’t follow the holly jolly Christmas trend.

To enter the 12 days of Spoke raffle today, comment your favorite winter holiday song.

6. Please Come Home For Christmas – Bon Jovi version

This is a smooth rock and R&B song Bon Jovi covered in 1992, previously performed by the Eagles and Charles Brown. Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi nails the steady pulse of the song and those perfect howling pitches. Words slide off his tongue in his characteristic timbre – aching and deliberate.

5. Happy Xmas (War is Over) – Shinedown version

Originally written by John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono, this song protested the Vietnam War when it was released in 1971. This was one of many products from two years of peace activism. The Shinedown cover cuts the rock soul of this song a little harder, a little sharper.

Though shimmering with satire – “And so this is Christmas… the world is so wrong,” Brent Smith sings – “Happy Xmas” reminds listeners to be peaceful, at least for this winter, and to think about our history of war: the mass destruction and waste of human lives it’s brought.

4. Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry

“Run Rudolph Run” doesn’t have a message. It’s just an upbeat guitar riff, a classic ‘50s rock tune. Johnny Marks – the writer of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – wrote this, Chuck Berry popularized it, and countless others have covered it. If Chuck Berry’s original is too mellow for you, try Lynyrd Skynyrd’s, Kelly Clarkson’s, or even heavy metal pioneer Lemmy Kilmister’s grind of a version.

3. Somewhere Only We Know – Lily Allen (music video)

If you’ve heard Keane’s original version, you’ll know this was never meant to be a holiday song. But Lily Allen molds it into a beautiful, delicate Christmas animation, starring a rabbit and his bear friend who doesn’t feel as if he can celebrate Christmas with the other, less ferocious animals. Depending on your taste, it will either be a magical video, an adorable video, or another stupid animal video.

2. River – Joni Mitchell

Mitchell croons this soulful ballad. A vague Jingle Bells harmony melts in the background while the melody diverges completely. “River” is not a typical take on Christmas at all. Consisting of genuine sorrow and heartbreak, it touches every listener who wishes they had “a river to skate away on”.

Honorable Mentions:

Holiday – Green Day: Miserable lyrics driven by hard-hitting melodies – just how we like Green Day. Unfortunately, it’s too popular and year-round to qualify for this top six list.

Christmas in Hollis – Run-DM: Old Skool Hip Hop-style. If you swing with Will Smith’s raps – think Prince of Bel-Air theme song – you’ll appreciate Run-DM’s take on Christmas.


1. The Killers’ Collection

What better way to celebrate Christmas than to give? Every year since 2006, The Killers have released a Christmas-themed original as part of Product (RED). All proceeds go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, an international charity which benefits from all Product (RED) merchandise. According to Forbes, The Killers have raised an estimated million dollars since their first song, “A Great Big Sled”. According to me, they’ve earned the number one spot on my top six.

The Killers have partnered with celebrities like Owen Wilson and Richard Dreyfuss, writing and shooting genuinely creative, albeit odd music videos. Of the ten wonderfully weird Christmas songs they’ve written so far, here are the highlights. Try “Boots” for nostalgia and regret, “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” for a creepy Bohemian Rhapsody, “Joel, the Lump of Coal” for a charismatic story, or collect them all and help The Killers kill AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria this holiday season.