The Bubble Playlist No. 29: Alternative Christmas

Sufjan Stevens loves Christmas.

Ho ho ho! It’s Christmas once again, and as unweary of the holiday season as you may be, perhaps you still find yourself fancying a little something different to listen to through your stereo or earphones this year. There are fourteen tracks on this playlist but the overall run-time is less than one hour – a perfect supplement to your regular Christmas jingles this festive season! We’ve even gone and made a Spotify playlist (some of the songs aren’t on there unfortunately): The Bubble Alternative Christmas Playlist.

Eels – “Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas”

Featured on their 2002 live album Electro-Shock Blues Show, this is a very well put together indie rock tune with distorted guitars, slightly choked vocals and an upbeat lyrical message.

Anamanaguchi – “Snow Angels”

“Snow Angels” was released in May 2013 as a track on Anamanaguchi’s Endless Fantasy studio album. This electronic instrumental pop track has a name and an aesthetic that makes me feel very festive indeed.

R. Stevie Moore – “Joy To The World”

A contemporary take on a traditional Christmas tune as ‘lo-fi legend’ R. Stevie Moore gives a typically characterful rendition of the song “Joy To The World”.

Julian Casablancas – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

This song featured as a bonus track on The Strokes’ front man’s Phrazes For The Young solo album in 2009, and was based on a skit done for the American television show Saturday Night Live.

R.E.M. – “Deck The Halls”

Another short interpretation of a Christmas classic, “Deck The Halls” was performed in 1988 by now-disbanded American alternative rock band R.E.M. for the album Winter Warnerland.

Bob Dylan – “Must Be Santa”

This Christmas song was first written by Hal Moore and Bill Fredericks in 1960 for Mitch Miller to sing. Based on a German drinking song, the necessary raucous aesthetic is definitely brought out by Dylan’s 2009 cover version, with a mixture of joviality and tongue-in-cheek satire at holiday traditions.

Yo La Tengo – “Rock N Roll Santa”

This song opens up the American indie rock band’s 2002 Merry Christmas From Yo La Tengo EP and features a memorable hook covered over by fuzzy, lo-fi production.

Sufjan Stevens – “The Midnight Clear”

The tempo is brought down a bit for this part of the playlist. Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens performs a beautiful rendition of “The Midnight Clear”, taken from his sixth of (so far) ten Christmas albums.

The Killers – “¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!”

The Killers have been releasing a new Christmas song every year since 2006. “¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!” is my personal favourite and I don’t think it gets enough playback, hence its proud inclusion here.

Coldplay – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”

This isn’t “Christmas Lights” (a great tune) but Coldplay’s version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, from their rare Mince Spies EP is a tasty little yuletide morsel in its own right.

Kate Bush – “50 Words For Snow”

From her 2011 winter album of the same name, “50 Words For Snow” is a captivating numbered list of fifty different ways of saying snow (!), spoken by Stephen Fry no less. Fry’s expressive and varied delivery matches perfectly with Bush’s soft and log-fire-warm vocal tones.

The Flaming Lips – “A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn’t So)”

The Flaming Lips wrote another Christmas song titled “Christmas At The Zoo” but I’ve chosen to include this one in the playlist instead because I think it has a better Christmas vibe to it, as well as beautiful instrumental layering and a touching message about the nature of humans and the nature of reality.

Sufjan Stevens – “Christmas Unicorn”

It is time to return to Sufjan Stevens for this epic twelve-minute Christmas song, taken from Volume 10 of his prolific festive album back-catalogue.

Radiohead – “Winter Wonderland”

Thom Yorke jokes “nobody’s watching, I think everybody’s gone home”. Hopefully that isn’t the case here as we come to one of the best bands of all time having a bit of laid-back fun in the studio, forming a really chilled out way to end our unique festive playlist. Merry Christmas everybody!

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