Let’s be honest with ourselves. There comes a time during the wonderful, joyous holiday season when you reach the point that if you hear Brenda Lee singing about a marshmallow world one more time you might run head-first into a brick wall. Don’t be ashamed: We all have our breaking points. Christmas classics are classics for a reason — they are timeless, they bring us back, flood us with warm, woolen memories. Yet it should be noted that yes, at some point, classics can get a little worn out and you need a little break. You don’t want to go total Scrooge, but you do want to suggest that maybe, just maybe, you listen to something else.
Bold move, but not a bad move.
So here, if you find yourself in such a situation, here are 10 alternate versions of some of these Christmas classics that you might not have heard before, but could be just what you need to provide respite from more of Ms. Lee, Elvis, Bing Crosby, the Trans Siberian Orchestra, and Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.
Sufjan Stevens – “Joy to the World”
Just like Christmas, it starts out of slow, mellow and peaceful before descending into manic chaos. Stevens’ version of the old standard, heard at Christmas Eve masses everywhere, is off his 2012 album, Silver & Gold and might not be dinner music per se, but it’ll definitely spark one or two conversations.
Weezer – “O Holy Night”
You have to hand it to Weezer. Even with an elementary-school choir mainstay like “O Holy Night,” they can run it through Rivers Cuomo’s scientific lab of pop music and make it sound like the Weez. What is traditionally an exceptionally ethereal and mildly surreal song gets chunked up with distortion-wielding guitars and hammering drums. I would bet that your grandmother prefers the original.
Death Cab for Cutie – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Few Christmas songs have the energy and gusto of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” And while Death Cab’s version has some energy to it, it’s definitely a more atmospheric and meditative take on the Phil Spector, Wall of Sound classic. It’s always been a song of emotion and in their version, Death Cab twist that emotion ever so slightly, making it more somber and more of a plea.