Infuse Bad Religion and Other Rockers Into Your Holiday Song List

Hark! the heavenly sounds from Greg Graffin and others

It’s that time of year again, when Mariah Carey tells us that we’re all she wants for Christmas, and Linus solemnly educates us about the reason for the season. But we here in the ’90s Rock realm seek to infuse our holidays with a bit more oomph. Shake up your sleepy yuletide shindig with tracks from Bad Religion, Save Ferris and more.

Bad Religion - "Angels We Have Heard on High"


Ironic that a band who hails anarchy and secularism took such a straightforward approach to a Christmas classic. Granted, Greg Graffin’s husky punk vocals rip the traditional carol a new one. And the holy guitar trinity of Brett Gurewitz, Brian Baker and Mike Dimkich shred through the stuffiness. Ultimately, the SoCal rapscallions made a cover that appeases staunch traditionalists and snotty youngsters. 

Blues Traveler - "Christmas"

UD Factory

The “Run-Around” gang gave us an original December ditty back in 1997 for the charitable Very Special Christmas 3 compilation. It takes the PC route, wishing well to those who also celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Solstice and other surrounding festivities. John Popper’s vibrato almost sounds like Van Morrison as he urges for good will toward all men.

Smashing Pumpkins - "Christmastime"


Though more suited for Halloween, the Smashing Pumpkins surprised everyone in 1997 with this gorgeous number. Billy Corgan caged his rage just long enough to sing of ecstatic children opening presents, while bells and strings warmed the hearts of listeners. And with the November 2015 birth of his first son, Augustus Juppiter, we imagine Corgan will be serenading his little one with this lighthearted tome.

Save Ferris - "Christmas Wrapping"

Piper Ferguson

Ska leading lady Monique Powell tried this Waitresses classic on for size and made it her own. Adding lyrics about being a lonely Jew on Christmas, Powell and her Save Ferris cohorts presented a cynical yet smiley carol in 1999. Their version of “Christmas Wrapping” found its way onto a compilation by influential KROQ funny men Kevin & Bean.

Fiona Apple - "Frosty the Snowman"


The “Criminal” crooner is not the first person you’d think of when it comes to merry and bright songs. But Apple puts aside her morose mannerisms for this perky number. Its arrangement is minimalistic and jazzy, letting her unique delivery shine. She’s as animated as the 1969 namesake cartoon, which plays yearly on CBS.

Bif Naked - "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"


The Canadian warbler’s take on this cutesy-poo favorite goes from wistful to rollicking in no time flat. Her gleeful punk-pop might adds a kick to the song, which has been covered by everyone from the Jackson 5 to Amy Winehouse.

Al Jourgensen and Mark Thwaite - "It's Always Christmas Time"

Al Jourgensen and Mark Thwaite - It's Always Christmas Time
13th Planet

Prefer holiday songs that don’t come from the North Pole? How about from The Land of Rape and Honey? Ministry’s dark lord, Al Jourgensen, pairs with gifted guitarist-for-hire Mark Thwaite in this track that expresses his disgust with the Christmas spirit. It’s one of the best bah-humbug offerings next to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Fountains of Wayne - "I Want an Alien for Christmas"


The fellows behind “Stacey’s Mom” are tired of terrestrial gifts. In this chugging, excitable song, Chris Collingwood implores his parents for “a little green guy about three feet high.”  Maybe he’d be interested in a basilisk instead?

No Doubt - "Oi to the World"


Trumpets are ever present in seasonal songs, but when ska luminaries No Doubt took on a Vandals tune, they turned the brassy instrument into a battle-ready weapon. It’s amusing in retrospect to hear pop diva Gwen Stefani shout of unity between the punks and skins, but back in the Tragic Kingdom days, she was the queen of the scene.

Brian Setzer Orchestra - "Run Rudolph Run"

Brian Setzer Orchestra - Boogie Woogie Christmas

A modern-day rockabilly superstar taking on a Chuck Berry staple? It’s a match made in holiday heaven. Setzer sets his guitar on fire as he mimics the legend’s licks, and his gritty voice conjures up the image of a grizzled Santa. Those about to rock around the tree will want to put this one in the queue— as well as the rest of the upbeat tracks on the orchestra’s 2003 re-release of Boogie Woogie Christmas. Or for an update, check out BSO's 2015 yuletide album, Rockin' Rudolph.