Just over a year ago, we assembled what would have been our eighth Dystopian Dance Mix: a playlist of pop Christmas music, just in time for the holidays. But it never saw the light of day; our already-critical levels of sloth were only worsened by the lassitude of the season, and Christmas came and went before I could get around to writing the post. Well, this year, we’re setting things right. So here it is: the lost Dystopian Christmas Mix, dusted off and presented to you good as new. Just think of us as the senile aunts who wrap up used household items to give as Christmas presents–only with better taste in music. We hope you enjoy this collection of festive tunes from off the beaten path…hopefully the next one won’t take us another two years to deliver.
1. Eazy-E featuring Rudy Ray Moore, Menajahtwa, Buckwheat from the Lil Waskals and Atban Klann: “Merry Muthaphuckkin’ Xmas”
(from 5150: Home 4 tha Sick, 1992)
When it comes to spreading holiday cheer, diminutive N.W.A. co-founder Eric “Eazy-E” Wright probably isn’t the first person who comes to mind. Listening to his one and (blessedly) only Christmas song will only reinforce that perception. “Merry Muthaphuckkin’ Xmas” isn’t just a contender for the most wildly offensive holiday tune ever written; it may also be one of the most obnoxious songs ever recorded, period. Guest Rudy Ray Moore (a.k.a. “Uncle Dolemite“) describing Eazy as a “bad motherfucker” in the intro is kiddie stuff compared to what’s to come: Eazy drive-by shooting a group of carolers; a chortling Santa instructing kids to “come sit on my face…I mean, lap”; Compton female rap duo Menajahtwa requesting a “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rain-dick” (whatever the fuck that is). And if all that isn’t tasteless enough for you, there’s also a rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” performed entirely with fart noises. The song is so thoroughly juvenile, it’s actually awe-inspiring to witness–though, again, when people talk about the wonder of the holiday season, I kind of doubt this is what they mean. Thanks anyway, Eazy. It’s the thought that counts.
2. King Diamond: “No Presents for Christmas”
(1985 single; available on The Best of King Diamond)
At least a little more festive than Eazy-E is this seasonal number from ex-Mercyful Fate vocalist King Diamond: actually the first solo single released by the Danish black metal regent/puppet enthusiast. And, while it’s unlikely to make any traditional holiday playlists, “No Presents for Christmas” is an undeniably kickass song: Diamond putting his cartoonish cackle to good use as he makes sure “all the waiting Christmas trees…hear their master sing,” while future Motörhead drummer Mikkey Dee provides a breakneck backbeat and guitarists Michael Denner and Andy LaRocque alternate between tongue-in-cheek quotes from holiday standards and full-throttle shredding. Who needs presents for Christmas when you’ve got all this metal?
3. Al Green: “Feels Like Christmas”
(from White Christmas, 1983)
But maybe you’re in the mood for something a little…smoother. If that’s the case, then this 1983 track by Al Green is the song for you. With its disco-flavored take on vintage Memphis soul, the arrangement is so smooth it ought to come with a complimentary glass of Henny and egg nog; and as for the Reverend Al’s vocals, well, let’s just say they’re proof that even after he “went gospel” in the early ’80s, his panty-dropping days were far from over. Al Green could sing the proverbial phone book and still make it sound effortlessly sexy and soulful; in this case, he just happens to be singing a Christmas card.
4. Bob Seger and the Last Heard: “Sock It to Me Santa”
(1966 single; available on Cameo Parkway Holiday Hits)
Now here’s a song that isn’t a holiday standard, but should be: just over two high-octane minutes of Detroit‘s own Bob Seger, backed by his early white-R&B band the Last Heard, hollering at Santa Claus to “lay some toys on me.” It makes Bruce Springsteen‘s better-known holiday bellow-fest sound positively anemic, and serves as a potent reminder that, yes, Bob Seger used to be really, really good. No Motor City Christmas is complete without it.
5. Spın̈al Tap: “Christmas with the Devil (Scratch Mix)”
(1984 single; available on This is Spın̈al Tap)
The fictional heavy metal group known as Spın̈al Tap–comprised of real-life comedians Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer–has a knack for writing parodies so on-target that they end up serving as solid entries in the very genre they’re mocking. Thus it is that “Christmas with the Devil,” Tap’s hilariously grim attempt at a yuletide anthem for headbangers, is actually one of the better metal Christmas songs out there. Just listen to these lyrics: “The elves are dressed in leather / And the angels are in chains / The sugar plums are rancid / And the stockings are in flames / There’s a demon in my belly / And a gremlin in my brain / There’s someone up the chimney hole / And Satan is his name.” Can you really say that’s any sillier than, say, King Diamond?
6. Snoop Doggy Dogg featuring Daz Dillinger, Nate Dogg, Tray Deee, and Bad Azz: “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto”
(from Christmas on Death Row, 1996)
So, okay, James Brown did the concept first, and arguably better. But it’s hard to deny that Death Row Records‘ take on a South Central Santa Claus is a hell of a lot more fun: from guest Bad Azz’ oh-so-’90s wish list (“I want a ‘Super Intendo‘… ‘Sega Genecents’… Street Fighter II…”) to Snoop’s actual portrayal of a ghetto Santa (“Ain’t no help from the elves, just tha Dogg Pound / And we passin’ out gifts, blazin’ up spliffs”). And if you think this Santa is riding in a magic sleigh, then you haven’t been paying attention to the song’s slick Isaac Hayes sample: big homey is obviously rolling through the hood in a tricked-out Cadillac.
7. Kurtis Blow: “Christmas Rappin'”
(1979 single; available on The Best of Kurtis Blow)
In 1823, a poem entitled “A Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel. The poem, later attributed to New York Episcopalian theologian Clement Clarke Moore, went on to become a treasured holiday tradition, with innumerable adaptations and annual readings in libraries and family rooms across the country…until 1979, when another New Yorker–rapper Kurtis Blow–officially made it obsolete. Blow’s “Christmas Rappin'” makes no bones about its status as an update of Moore’s poem–except that in this version, St. Nick doesn’t just bring presents (including TVs, stereos, and “a new Seville ’bout as blue as the sky”), but he also sticks around to throw down with Blow and the band. Who doesn’t love a Santa who knows how to party?
8. Ying Yang Twins: “Carol of da Bellz”
(from The Ying & The Yang of the Holidays, 2008)
Every once in a while on this blog, I’ll take a moment to mourn the declining fortunes of the Ying Yang Twins, those raw-throated Atlanta not-actually-brothers who shared a brief moment in the limelight with hits like “Wait (The Whisper Song)” and Lil Jon‘s “Get Low.” But the thing is, I can’t actually be that sad–because if D-Roc and Kaine were still on top of the charts, the chances are slim to none that they’d have graced us with something as gloriously demented as their 2008 rendition of Mykola Leontovych’s classic “Carol of the Bells.” Just listen, as the Bing Bong Brothers bellow something at least vaguely resembling the carol’s haunting Eastern European melody, with brand new lyrics about–what else?–droppin’ it to the flo’ and makin’ your booty roll–plus liberal quantities of their trademark guttural ad-libs (“haaaaanh!“). It’s borderline unlistenable, but hey, that’s kind of our wheelhouse around here.
9. Twisted Sister: “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”
(from A Twisted Christmas, 2006)
Speaking of declining fortunes, here’s Twisted Sister, whose frontman Dee Snider spends most of his time these days waging embarrassing old-man beefs with Paul Stanley and farming his old hits out to Donald Trump rallies–and, apparently, rearranging those same hits (Christ, let’s face it, hit singular) into Christmas carols. Look, I’m not gonna lie: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” sounds surprisingly natural when sung to the tune of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and I dig the way the band sneaks a little bit of “Hava Nagila” in at the end. But that doesn’t mean I support your lifestyle, Mr. Snider.
10. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo, and Simon Wright: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
(from We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year, 2008)
It’s an incontrovertible fact that “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is the most metal Christmas song ever written; Geezer Butler would have killed to have written a line like “To save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.” So it’s really sort of inevitable that the song ended up being recorded by not one, but two Black Sabbath veterans–guitarist Tony Iommi and vocalist Ronnie James Dio–plus Ozzy Osbourne/Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo and Dio drummer Simon Wright. And I’m just gonna throw this out there: if you can listen to Dio singing “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” over Iommi’s vintage sludge-metal riffs, and not think it’s the most badass thing ever, then you might as well just stop listening to music entirely. There’s officially no hope for you.
11. Bad Lucc featuring Soopafly: “Landy in My Egg Nog”
(from Snoop Dogg Presents Christmas in tha Dogghouse, 2008)
Yes, I know we’ve already heard from Snoop once on this playlist–but anybody who wears as much fur as that guy has to have at least a few Christmas songs in him. This particular track, a production for his Dogg Pound associates Bad Lucc and Soopafly, isn’t quite up to the standard of “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto,” but its nostalgic Nat “King” Cole sample goes down as easy as, well, Landy in your egg nog.
12. Keith Sweat: “Party Christmas”
(from A Christmas of Love, 2007)
I don’t know about you all, but when I think “Christmas,” there’s one word that comes to mind: Sweat. And this grown-and-sexy treat from Sweat’s one and only holiday album–sadly not titled A Very Sweaty Keithmas–is guaranteed to make your special lady friend say, “Well, at least they didn’t put an R. Kelly song on the playlist.” (Don’t worry, we’re saving that for next year.)
13. David Banner featuring Marcus and Sky Keeton: “The Christmas Song”
(from MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water, 2003)
Now, before you get your hopes up: sadly, this is not a cover of the “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” “Christmas Song” by the man/possible Hulk who gave us “Play.” It is, however, a pretty solid entry in the mini-genre of gangsta holiday songs, with Banner and guests shining a light on the struggles of trying to make ends meet on the margins of a racist society: “It’s winter time and we still cannot find a job / We fill out applications, but you treat us like we’re slobs / So we rob, and we steal / We’re just try’na get a lil’ / ‘Cause it’s Christmas time and we’re broke again.” Not exactly as Hallmark-ready a sentiment as some of the songs in this post, I suppose; but it’s worth remembering that not everyone has access to the bourgeois comforts we celebrate during this “most wonderful time of the year.”
14. Was (Not Was): “Christmas Time in the Motor City”
(from A Christmas Record, 1981)
Though perhaps not quite as grim as Banner’s song, “Christmas Time in the Motor City” by Detroit New-Wavers Was (Not Was) nevertheless paints a vivid picture of a quietly desperate Christmas in economically depressed, cold-as-fuck early ’80s Southeast Michigan. “I’m out of work, it’s been a while / So don’t ask me to smile,” David Was sings over a herky-jerky bassline by his stage brother Don. “I ain’t no Scrooge, I like December / But I can’t even remember seeing Santa Claus this year.” Then he breaks into spoken-word poetry, and the song turns into a scene from a holiday-themed film noir: “At 2 a.m., I’m off the streets, sitting in a donut shop / A sad-eyed girl mops the floor next to my feet / The light in here is far too bright / The radio plays ‘Silent Night.'” Again, probably not a good choice for your next caroling expedition–but still a valuable counterpoint to the usual excess of forced cheer.
15. The Treacherous Three: “Xmas Rap” (a.k.a. “Santa’s Rap”)
(1984 single; available on The Sugarhill Records Story)
From the aforementioned Kurtis Blow to, of course, Run-D.M.C., there are some surprisingly strong Christmas tracks in the old-school hip-hop canon. But my personal favorite has to be this one by the Treacherous Three–a.k.a. Kool Moe Dee, L.A. Sunshine, and Special K.–plus guest Doug E. Fresh. I just love the irreverent treatment of Moe Dee’s Santa, who gets a fair amount of abuse from the rest of the Three (per L.A.: “You big fat whale, you might as well quit / ‘Cause I can name a hundred presents that I didn’t get”), while venting impotently about his own problems (“You think I’m getting presents made for free? / I gotta pay them elves, and ain’t nobody paying me”). And if you still haven’t seen the song’s standout sequence in the classic breakdancing movie Beat Street, then you’re really missing out on a holiday treat.
16. Ghostface Killah featuring Shawn Wigs: “Ghostface X-mas”
(from GhostDeini the Great, 2008)
I’ve got to admit, there are a few things about this song I’m still not entirely clear on. Like, why does Ghostface have to, as he puts it at the beginning of the track, “drop all these toys off?” Is Ghostface actually Santa Claus? Did Santa fall off his roof and now he has to take over? Why does he call for Mrs. Claus to bring him his “robe and slippers?” (On second thought, never mind; I can probably piece that one together on my own.) But whatever the answers to these pressing questions, I guess I’m okay with it: if I really have to raise my child to believe that a strange man is breaking to his house every Christmas Eve, eating up all the cookies and leaving gifts, then Tony Starks is as good a strange man as any.
17. Sparks: “Thank God It’s Not Christmas”
(from Kimono My House, 1974)
As much as we try to get into the Christmas spirit on this blog, we still fully acknowledge that it isn’t for everybody. For example: it definitely isn’t for brothers Russell and Ron Mael of Sparks, who wrote a bona fide anti-holiday anthem in 1974’s “Thank God It’s Not Christmas.” Their main objection to the season seems to be its wholesomeness and forced sentiment, which naturally gets in the way of their preferred lifestyle of “Meeting fancy thins / At bistros and old haunts / Trying very hard to sin.” Fortunately, they’re not alone, and the song’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics perfectly capture the sense of communal alienation experienced by the many who aren’t won over by the Christmas feeling: “Caroling kids, caroling kids / A trifle premature, in tones so rich and pure and crystalline / Call for the day, the popular day / It’s fast approaching now / But will the mood allow / One dissent?” Don’t worry, guys, it’s just another week…I’m sure you’ll survive.
18. Marvin Sease: “Funky Christmas”
(from It’s Christmas Time, 1990; available on 20th Century Masters: The Best of Marvin Sease – The Millennium Collection)
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I know what you’re probably thinking right now: “Oh, god, a Marvin Sease Christmas song. What horrible seasonal metaphors for cunnilingus is he going to dump on us this time?” Well, folks, here’s our holiday present to you: this Marvin Sease song is surprisingly, almost unnervingly G-rated, with lyrics utterly free of the “Candy Licker”‘s usual double and single entendres–unless “you cook the food, and I’ll bring the wine” has a filthy hidden meaning I’m missing. Indeed, the only thing convincing me that this is actually Marvin Sease on the record is that he’s still leering like a goddamned pervert, both visibly on the EP cover (see above) and audibly in the song itself. Honestly, it’s almost creepier to hear him like this than in his natural state, gleefully proselytizing about the joys of pussy eating. But maybe that’s part of the point: like some fucked-up version of It’s a Wonderful Life, “Funky Christmas” teaches us to appreciate the Marvin Sease we take for granted by showing us an even more chilling alternative.
19. Blowfly: “Frosty the Snowman”
(from Blowfly Does XXX-mas, 1999)
Now this, on the other hand, is exactly what you’d expect a Blowfly Christmas song to sound like. The original “Frosty the Snowman” was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950; over the following decades, the song was covered by everyone from Nat “King” Cole and Perry Como to the Beach Boys and Ella Fitzgerald, even receiving its own Rankin-Bass animated TV special in 1969. But through all of this, one burning question remained unanswered: What was Frosty’s dick like? Finally, in 1999, Blowfly put our curiosity to rest. Turns out it’s pretty much what you’d expect: Frosty’s dick, like the rest of his body, is made of snow, which means it’s constantly in danger of melting and…uh…apparently disappointing all the human women who are having sex with him? Okay, so maybe that’s not quite what you’d expect–but sometimes the answers we need aren’t the same as the ones we want. And what we need is to have the image of Frosty the Snowman’s melted dick burned into our minds, until our inevitable death finally grants us sweet relief. Merry Christmas, everybody!