Friday on My Mind: The Best Non-Traditional Traditional Holiday Songs

For this new weekly feature, Friday on My Mind, we are collaborating with King 5 News to bring you a different “Top 3″ list centered around various musical subjects and themes. This week, I’m bringing you the Best Non-Traditional Traditional Holiday Songs.

There haven’t been very many holiday songs in recent memory that have crossed over into the territory of truly “traditional” status, but these three songs from the 80’s are definite contenders.

1. The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”

Recorded in 1981 by this relatively unknown new wave band, the song tells the story of a busy single woman who decides to sit out the holidays for this year except for making Christmas dinner. She also reveals that she has been trying to meet up with a man she hasn’t been able to connect with for a date over the course of the year. On Christmas Eve, they run into each other at the grocery store, while each is trying to buy cranberries. It’s a modern day Christmas romance story.

2. The Pogues – “Fairytale of New York”

Released in 1987 and featuring English singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl helping out on vocals, this song is the story of an Irish immigrant spending Christmas Eve sleeping off one his drinking binges while in a drunk tank in New York. Reverie about holidays past, while sleeping off a bender in a New York City detention cell- Bing Crosby would be proud!

3. RUN DMC – “Christmas in Hollis”

Another one from 1987, “Christmas in Hollis” can be considered one of the first times a Christmas song was considered “cool”. In traditional hip hop style, it samples many sources, but in this case, the samples are all traditional holiday songs like ”Back Door Santa”, “Frosty the Snowman”, “Jingle Bells”, and “Joy to the World”.

Honorable Mentions:

4. Band Aid – “Do The Know Its Christmas”

One of the greatest selling singles of all time and featuring everyone from Boy George to U2 to Duran Duran, this song was recorded and pressed in less then 48 hours and helped raise money and attention to famine in Ethiopia…and I always liked it better then “We are the World”

5. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”

You usually don’t find holiday songs and protest songs merged into one but then again, you don’t find many musicians or people quite like John Lennon.

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  1. George
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I know KEXP doesn’t play much too much country music, but in my opinion this is the best Christmas song ever:

  2. Sara
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Some of my all time faves! At our house you will also here the Bowie/Bing duet and the Ramones “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) when you come over for nog. :)

  3. Posted December 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    George, we do indeed play a bit of country around here. Don Slack just played this song last night on Swinging Doors (every Thursday from 6-9PM PST).

  4. Beth
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    All on my playlist. Others include Aimee Mann’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Beck, “The Little Drum Machine Boy,” The Decemberists, “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas),” The Flaming Lips, “White Christmas,” The Long Winters, “Christmas With You Is the Best” Etc., Etc., . . . .

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