Let's not beat around the bush, holiday music is painful. It's schlocky, tacky and for the most part the only reason anyone plays it is that there's not a lot of competition. There's a reason that Hugh Grant's character in About A Boy was rich on the royalties from the hit Christmas song his dad wrote, because they just keep on going. And going. Like battery powered rabbits, or zombies.
So what Christmas songs do I actually like? Not a lot but here are a few that I can stand, at least while listening to holiday music is legally mandated. Five of the Christmas songs that I can stand are after the jump.
1. U2: "It's Christmas Baby Please Come Home"
Granted it's not the best song, but I discovered it at the height of my love of U2 and so I think it's probably not quite as good as I believe it is. It's during the Johshua Tree era so of course early on Bono has to give a few "Yeahs" just to let you know that they're playing rock n' roll. There's also a very good Death Cab For Cutie version of the song.
2. The Muppets and John Denver: "12 Days of Christmas"
This is another case of my memory maybe being a bit at fault for my pick. Growing up the only record I owned was the John Denver and the Muppets record which considering I didn't even know who John Denver was, seemed an odd choice. Whereas now I try to avoid holiday music like the plague, I was always eager for a chance to put my one LP on the turntable.
3. John Lennon: "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"
Okay, this one can get a bit preachy and overwhelming but it's a good song. I like the fact that at least one of the Beatles added a really good tune to the holiday canon, and the fact that it's declaration that "war is over" was slightly inaccurate doesn't really diminish it.
4. Sufjan Stevens: "That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!"
It's bold enough to write a new Christmas song, but it's braver to write one that's not about how great the holiday is, and isn't a parody/comedic song. For me Sufjan Stevens is hit and miss, but I do enjoy this entry into the Christmas music catalog.
5. Ron Sexsmith: "Maybe This Christmas"
I think either you love Ron Sexsmith or you're, "meh" about him. I'm generally "meh" about him despite the fact that I know several people who love him. This song however is one of his best, though it does help that it only comes by once a year.