20 Christmas music tunes that won't drive you insane

Not all Christmas music is overplayed or pure torture. Here, 20 holiday tunes you'll actually enjoy in our "Why Can't the Malls Play This?" playlist.

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Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects

Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects Photograph: Courtesy Daptone

The onslaught of Christmas music starts earlier every year—we may or may not have heard Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" on Halloween night. By the time the actual holiday rolls around, we'd rather drown ourselves in eggnog than listen to another holiday tune. But Christmas with no music is like Yule with no log, so we scraped together this playlist of festive gems that won't offend—and may just delight—tender end-of-year ears. Merry listening!


 


1. "I Wish it Was Christmas Today," Julian Casablancas


In New York City, Santa Claus looks like Joey Ramone and stuffs your stocking with cigarettes and this song.


 


2. "I Was Born on Christmas Day," Saint Etienne


Britpop's best blond, Sarah Cracknell duets with Tim Burgess (of the Charlatans) in this joyous gem of house rhythms, shimmering synthesizers and horns.

 


3. "Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects," Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings


No chimneys, perhaps. At least there’s killer soul, and no Anne Murray in sight.


 


4. "Sleigh Ride," The Ronettes


Phil Spector: convicted murderer, hair criminal and creator of the greatest holiday album of all time.


 


5. "Got Something for You," Best Coast + Wavves


The beach-loving indie couple seems more apt to smoke trees than decorate them. This brief, adorable stomp is all whistling, whoo-oo-oos and bells.


 


6. "Come on Santa," The Raveonettes


Like a snow globe of Copenhagen, filled with vodka. And get your mind out of the gutter—the dreamy Danish shoegazers just forgot the comma.


 


 


7. "Black Christmas," Harlem Children's Chorus


Somewhere between the Jackson 5 and the Peanuts kids.


 


8. "Carol of the Bells," Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra


If Sergio Leone made a spaghetti Western about Santa, it’d sound like this—fuzz guitars, Italian plucking and funky drum breaks.


 


9. "Christmas As I Knew It," Johnny Cash


You want an $800 iPad, you gadget whore? Know what Johnny Cash got his little brother, Jack? A freaking whistle he whittled by hand.


 


10. "Little Drummer Boy," Bing Crosby + David Bowie


It could have been as crushing as Gene Kelly in Xanadu. But the eternally cool aura of the Thin White Duke makes this more of a baton passing. (Also, this parody is pretty great.)


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