As soon as Christmas season rolls around, radio stations everywhere begin blasting all the classics, from “White Christmas” to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” While many artists cover the favorites, they also spring up their own holiday ditties, gradually crafting the next line of classics like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
But some, on the other hand, don’t care to make a song that you’ll be singing for many Christmases to come. Instead, they go for something a little more memorable because of how non-traditional they are — and thus, some of the most unconventional Christmas songs are born.
Whether cynical, silly or just downright bizarre, take a listen to these atypical holiday tracks and spice up your Christmas playlist.
“Yule Shoot Your Eye Out,” Fall Out Boy
The Fall Out Boy guys were some of the quintessential emo lyric writers of the late 2000s, and they brought that scornful mindset to a holiday track. At least the acoustic guitars soften the blow of lines like, “You’re the last thing I want to see underneath the tree.”
“All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Good Tan,” Kenny Chensey
For those who can’t quite find the joy in a winter wonderland: “How ’bout two tickets to a tropical shore/ Where we don’t have to wear these winter clothes anymore?”
“Wit It This Christmas,” Ariana Grande
At its core, Grande’s R&B-style track is simply another Christmas love song — just with a bass-heavy beat and some new-age lyricism.
“Zombie Christmas,” Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler
If you thought zombies and Christmas couldn’t be tied together somehow, Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler prove you wrong in a creatively off-the-wall way. (You can’t make this stuff up: “Winter wonderland and a silent night/ It’s only gonna happen if you put up a fight/ Just be careful, because they bite/ It’s a Zombie Christmas”)
“I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas,” Gayla Peevey
Another bizarre tune that has infiltrated Christmas playlists and radio stations around the world, the 1953 song is so annoyingly strange that you just can’t help singing along by the end.
“Don’t Shoot Me Santa,” The Killers
It seems Mr. Brightside has a rather dark view on Christmas.
“Santa’s Beard,” The Beach Boys
We’ve all experienced that moment where someone tells us that Santa Claus isn’t real, but the Beach Boys took that one step further by telling a tale of a little boy who realized the Santa he was meeting was a fraud with one simple tug on his beard.
“Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” Elmo & Patsy
Who would’ve ever thought such dark humor could be presented in such a cheerful, singsongy way?
“Santa Stole My Girlfriend,” The Maine
“Santa, you b—h/ Didn’t get a damn thing from my Christmas list/ All I got was this broken heart /And that’s it.” Well, that’s one way to tell Santa your gifts sucked…
“4 Carats,” Kelly Clarkson
Forget the lover — all Kelly Clarkson wants for Christmas is a big rock.
“I Won’t Be Home For Christmas,” Blink-182
If there’s one rock band that can get away with telling their family they aren’t coming home for Christmas, it’s definitely Blink-182 — but that does not mean that makes this song conventional for the holidays.
“Sexy Boy Christmas,” B2K
Let’s be honest, there’s really no other way for an R&B boy band to get into the Christmas spirit than with “fly whips and toys.”
“Christmas Unicorn,” Sufjan Stevens
Between Stevens’ psychedelic vocals and the mystical lyrics, this is definitely one of the most outlandish Christmas songs out there.
“Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama,” Chance the Rapper
This “lil’ mama” Chance is singing to apparently isn’t his just yet, because he has one request for Santa: “All I want for Christmas is some pretty b—hes.”
“Let Me Sleep (Christmas Time),” Pearl Jam
Sounds like the magic of Christmas morning isn’t enough to get Eddie Vedder & Co. out of bed.
“Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass,” All Time Low
Some people aren’t so lucky to spend Christmas with a significant other, so why not sing a super bitter song about it?
“A Pimp’s Christmas Song,” Snoop Dogg
It was hard to pick just one song from Snoop’s Christmas in the Dogghouse, which features other, err, clever titles like “Christmas In The Hood,” “Landy In My Egg Nog” and “My Little Mama Trippin On Christmas.” But just looking at the cover, something tells us this track was Snoop’s favorite.
“Funky, Funky, Xmas,” New Kids On the Block
Mark Wahlberg was no longer a New Kid when the beloved boy band dropped its Christmas album in 1989, but there is definitely some Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch influence on this not-so-Christmas-y Christmas song.
“Santa Claus Is Thumbing To Town,” Relient K
What would happen if Santa’s sleigh broke down? Relient K seems to have an idea.
“Blue Christmas,” Porky the Pig
While this song may be the most classic of any others on this list, hearing Porky’s signature stutters trying to sing The King makes for a completely different listening experience.
“Joel The Lump of Coal,” The Killers
Joel isn’t just any lump of coal, he’s Santa’s favorite, and in this song, we follow the two on their journey to bring all the kids toys on Christmas Eve. Towards the end of the song, Joel himself is given to a little boy, but he eventually turns into something much more. This is probably the best Killers Christmas song.
“Santa Stole My Lady,” Fitz and The Tantrums
In this jazzy holiday tune, Fitz and The Tantrums tell an unusual tale of Santa’s new girlfriend. In short, the lyrics paint the worst possible Christmas morning visual: “I woke up to my woman kissing Santa not me/ Before I could reach him, even think/ He scooped away my honey up the chimney sweep.”
“Black Christmas,” Poly Styrene
Poly Styrene gives her own dark spin on Bing Crosby’s 1942 classic “White Christmas,” by incorporating some images of the Christmas season’s relatable stresses and frustrations. The dark images paired with Styrene’s vocals result in a track for those still longing for a Halloween tune.