Not Your Grandma’s Carols: 12 Fun Christmas Covers

Dec 23, 2015

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Well, we’ve made it, Christmas is this week, just a few shot days away. If you’ve been spending the last couple of months as a member of the masses of people spending their weekends battling crowds and traffic to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones, you probably noticed the incessantly cheerful holiday music that is so ubiquitous it seems to be coming out of the very air (if you work in retail, then you have my sympathies). With the same old recordings of the same old songs, year in and year out, there is a fair chance you’re getting a little bored with the usual holiday music.

Well, we’re here to help! With just a few days left, this week we’re dedicating this space to helping you get back in the spirit of the season with a little twist on those holiday classics with a list of the best, rarest, and perhaps weirdest Christmas carol covers, with maybe a few originals thrown in for flavour. In no particular order, let’s begin!

The Jackson 5 – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

We start the list with a song that is an old favourite. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was first recorded in 1952, and was a smash hit the following year. Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 did a number of Christmas carol covers, including “Little Drummer Boy,” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” These covers, especially I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, benefit from a little Motown energy.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Deck The Halls

I bet you didn’t know The Red Hot Chili Peppers did any Christmas covers. And to be honest, neither did I until it came time to do research for this post. This “Deck the Halls” a capella cover was originally included on their 1994 rarities and B-side compilation, Out in L.A. The guys were obviously just having a little fun in he studio, using funny voices and half remembered lyrics, but the result is cheerful, and certainly different from the canned stuff you hear in the department store.

Coldplay – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin, is accompanied by just the piano melody in the heartfelt and sentimental track. Found on the 2002 holiday collection Maybe This Christmas Martin breathes new life into the classic in a way even the older members of the family will enjoy.

Is This Love – White Christmas

Just because it doesn’t really snow in Jamaica doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some snow inspired Christmas reggae! This cover of “White Christmas” will have you longing for a white sandy beach, fruity drinks, and a warm weather while you dream about that white Christmas.

Madonna – Santa Baby

Madonna recorded this Christmas classic back in 1987 for the charity album A Very Special Christmas. This song stands out a bit from most of Madonna’s other music, but it can be a little difficult to put your finger on just what it is that’s different. That is, until she busts out a little “boopy-doop” and you realize she’s doing her very best to channel cartoon icon Betty Boop, which honestly just makes the cover even better!

Bruce Springsteen – Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

Of course, no list of the best Christmas carol covers would be complete without “The Boss’” lighthearted (and often off key) version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Even without Bruce’s help, the original song has been a holiday hit since it was at the top of the charts in 1934. This iconic version was recorded with the E Street Band in 1978.

Pentatonix – Little Drummer Boy

If you aren’t aware of the a cappella group Pentatonix, you are seriously missing out. This beautiful cover hit No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 when released in 2013, and this music video was viewed more than 20 million times in less than a single month. Their style is includes tight vocal harmonies, a lot of riffing, deep bass lines, and a unique talent for vocal percussion and beat boxing. Check them out!

Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga – Winter Wonderland

Modern talent meets classic crooner in this amazing jazz Christmas duet. These two have had a lot of success with the classic covers recently, and this one is no different. Tony is his usual energetic self, and Lady Gaga brings her immeasurable talent to every note, belting it out like no one else can.

Ludacris – Ludacrismas

Here’s one of those originals I was talking about earlier. Written for the 2007 Christmas movie Fred Claus, this song contains some carol sampling, and is certainly tamer than most of Ludacris’s hits. This is a fun addition to your Christmas playlist whether you’re a fan of rap and hip hop or not.

Jimmy Eat World – Last Christmas

Pop-punk boys Jimmy Eat World give George Michael’s Wham! original an update with this cover. All the feeling of the original is still there, with a more upbeat tempo and a touch of pun edge to give it just that little touch of something unique to make it a truly special Christmas cover.

Anya Marina – I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas

Most of the time, if a child is asking Santa Claus for an animal it’s usually a puppy, kitten, or the occasional pony, but Anya Marina wants a Hippopotamus. The silly children’s song is simple, charming, and fun regardless of whether you have kids, or you just are a big kid.

Carol of the Bells – Trans-Siberian Orchestra

And lastly, another group that has no business not being on your Christmas playlist is, of course, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The American progressive rock band has released several albums, including a number of non-holiday related rock operas. This may be news to those out there who only listen to them during the holidays, but that’s okay, if this cover of “Carol of the Bells” doesn’t get you excited for Christmas, nothing will!

There ya go folks, if you’re not ready for Christmas now, I don’t know more to do for you! Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all!