Tomorrow is Christmas–which, here at Dystopian Dance Party, means that we’ve been listening to the Ying Yang Twins’ holiday EP for at least 30 days straight. But since we can’t just throw up a link to The Ying & The Yang of the Holidays every year and call it good, here are 19 more songs about ass-shaking and/or festive winter holidays. Play them at your holiday celebration and watch your extended family members clear the fuck out: because, like Plies says, you deserve somethin’ niiiiiiice for Chrima. Happy motherfucking holidays!
1. Gucci Mane: “St. Brick Intro”
(from The Return of East Atlanta Santa, 2016)
It was only a matter of time before Gucci Mane–or, perhaps more accurately, the Illuminati clone of Gucci Mane who was mysteriously released from prison earlier this year–went all the way in on his “East Atlanta Santa” persona and recorded a proper Christmas song. Well, this year, that time finally came, and it was glorious: “St. Brick,” the intro for Guwop’s new mixtape The Return of East Atlanta Santa, will make you beam with childlike wonder, just like the guy in the music video who hears someone breaking into his house and comes downstairs only to realize, nope, ‘s just Gucci. If hearing producer Zaytoven interpolate “Jingle Bells” over a trap beat doesn’t make your season bright, then your heart must be at least one size smaller than the Grinch’s.
2. OutKast: “Player’s Ball”
(from A LaFace Family Christmas, 1993)
It’s crazy to think that the debut single by one of the most acclaimed hip-hop groups of the early millennium was a Christmas song about the infamous annual gathering of pimps. And yet here we are: “Player’s Ball” may not be the most conventionally festive of songs, but it has sleigh bells and a reference to “ho-ho-hoes,” and that’s good enough for us. Besides, anybody who wears as much red fabric and fur as Santa Claus must be doing at least a little pimping on the side.
3. James White and the Blacks: “Christmas with Satan”
(1981 recording, available on Off White)
If the inclusion of “Christmas with the Devil” by Spın̈al Tap on last year’s holiday mix demonstrated anything, it’s that the linguistic proximity of “Santa” and “Satan” is just too tempting for aspiring holiday satirists not to exploit. But this 1981 track by James White and the Blacks (the disco-flavored side project of deranged post-punk saxophone genius James Chance) arguably makes an even better case for the allusion: Satan, like Santa, “gives every girl and boy / Just what he or she deserves.” Throw in the all-red wardrobe and the shared propensity for hanging out with goat-like demon creatures and hell, they’re practically the same person!
4. Iggy Pop: “White Christmas”
(2009 single, available on Anthology Box: The Stooges & Beyond)
It’s long been common knowledge that beneath Iggy Pop‘s shirtless punk wildman persona beats the heart of an equally shirtless crooner; and on this cover of Irving Berlin’s yuletide standard “White Christmas,” he proves as much by sounding for all the world like a cooler Bing Crosby. Not that that’s difficult, but still: if Iggy ever wants to make another album after Post Pop Depression, might I suggest a full-blown holiday record?
5. The Dirtbombs: “My Last Christmas”
(2000 single, available on If You Don’t Already Have a Look)
From one Detroit punk icon to another, here’s Mick Collins’ long-running band the Dirtbombs with what might be the most depressing holiday song ever. Basically a suicide note set to (desultory) music, “My Last Christmas” made its debut on one of the “Surprise Package” EPs released by the now-defunct Ypsilanti, Michigan indie label Flying Bomb. And while it’s a tremendous bummer of a song, it’s worth remembering that the holiday season can indeed be a tremendous bummer–especially this year, when it sometimes feels like this might be the last Christmas for all of us. If there was ever a time to keep an eye out for signs of seasonal depression, this is it.
6. “Weird Al” Yankovic: “Christmas at Ground Zero”
(from Polka Party!, 1986)
Speaking of the end of the world, whoo-ee, let’s talk about how it feels to be living in the United States with an incoming president whose idea of “making America great again” seems to be resurrecting the Cold War-era specter of nuclear annihilation. For the record, I don’t actually think that we’ll be living in a Fallout-style post-apocalyptic wasteland come Christmas 2017; but then again, I also didn’t think Trump would win the presidency, and here the fuck we are. At least “Weird Al” Yankovic’s darkly comic vision of that possible future sounds festive: thanks to the aid of producer Rick Derringer (!), it could pass as a long-lost outtake from Phil Spector‘s Christmas album. Just, you know, with more explosions.
7. Vanilla Fudge: “Silent Night”
Acid-rock melodramatists Vanilla Fudge are masters at transforming unexpected source material (the Supremes, Sonny & Cher) into ponderous, organ-heavy dirges; so, for decades, the fact that they hadn’t released a Christmas song felt like a missed opportunity. Well, in 2014, I finally got my wish: the current lineup of the Fudge (Mark Stein, Vince Martell, Carmine Appice, and Pete Bremy) released their take on the traditional carol “Silent Night,” and the result is as much of a misnomer as you’d expect. My only complaint now is that I want more: c’mon guys, give us a 20-minute-long mashup of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida!” I can guarantee you’ll have at least one purchase.
8. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: “8 Days of Hanukkah”
(from It’s a Holiday Soul Party, 2015)
As a lover of both Christmas (albeit in its most secularized form) and Christmas music, I sometimes reflect on how good I have it: not only is my winter holiday of choice a guaranteed day off, but it also exerts such a hegemonic influence on popular culture that dozens, if not hundreds of Christmas-themed songs are released every year. Meanwhile, my Jewish friends have…what? “I Have a Little Dreidel?” Fuckin’ Adam Sandler? Well, at least now they also have this song by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: the opening track from their delightfully non-denominational 2015 album It’s a Holiday Soul Party, and arguably the first song to make Chanukah sound as good as that other December celebration. Ms. Jones, sadly, did not live to see this holiday season: she passed away last month at age 60, following a battle with cancer. But she left behind a truly joyous legacy, and this song is as good a way to remember her as any.
9. Khia: “Santa Baby Rap”
(from Hip Hop & R&B Christmas Gold, 2016)
Okay, before you listen any further, pause the playlist and check out the music video: partly because it was clearly shot by Khia herself with a tripod in her apartment, but partly because the version currently streaming on Spotify and TIDAL takes all the dirty words out, and who wants to listen to a bowdlerized version of a Christmas song by the woman who gave us “My Neck, My Back”? Granted, it’s an open question whether anyone wanted to hear a Khia Christmas song in the first place, but I think we can all agree: if we’re going to listen to one, it should be the one with a line about “sucking on [her] mistletoe.”
10. B2K featuring TG4: “Sexy Boy Christmas”
(from Santa Hooked Me Up, 2002)
Full disclosure: 90% of the reason we’re including this song is the album cover, which brazenly rips off the Jackson 5 Christmas Album while also granting our lifelong wish of seeing Omarion in a Santa hat. The other 10% is because, well, who doesn’t want a sexy boy for Christmas? Or, for that matter, any other time of the year–which is good, since “Sexy Boy Christmas” is only tenuously related to Christmas in the first place?
11. Kanye West featuring CyHi da Prynce and Teyana Taylor: “Christmas in Harlem”
Kanye West has had a rough year–haven’t we all? So let’s give the guy a break and acknowledge that in 2010 he, producer Hit-Boy, and guests CyHi the Prynce and Teyana Taylor gave us one of the most delectable-sounding Christmas songs of all time (of all time!). A Frankenstein’s monster of non-holiday samples–Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” and “Mercy Mercy Me,” Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23”–“Christmas in Harlem” somehow comes out so goddamn festive it’s like it was made in Santa’s workshop by actual elves. Who cares if the lyrics are a little tossed-off? Put this on and try to tell me you don’t fuck with Kanye anymore. Of course you do, and you’ll come crawling back just like the rest of us.
12. Halford: “Get Into the Spirit”
(from Halford III: Winter Songs, 2009)
There’s something about Christmas-themed metal songs that never fails to fill my heart with joy. Take, for example, this track from ex-Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford: the lyrics are standard stuff about coming together and celebrating, but the music is a blistering assault by Halford and his group of veterans from Riot and the backing bands of Bruce Dickinson and Sebastian Bach. “Sleigh Ride” is fine and all, but every once in a while, it’s nice to have some holiday music you can headbang to.
13. Bob Dylan: “Must Be Santa”
(from Christmas in the Heart, 2009)
Imagining terrible, fake Christmas albums by unlikely celebrities has been one of Callie’s and my inside jokes for almost as long as I can remember. One of our most inspired ideas was an album of festive duets by Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, including quite possibly the dumbest holiday song ever written: “Must Be Santa” by Hal Moore and Bill Fredericks. So imagine my surprise when, in 2009, Bob Dylan actually went and released a Christmas album–including, you guessed it, “Must Be Santa.” The downside is, Costello didn’t make the jump from our fantasy album to reality; but the upside is, the version Dylan recorded is a goddamn polka. I don’t know if Bob finally lost his mind or what, but the fact that this even exists still gives me so much happiness.
14. Run the Jewels: “A Christmas Fucking Miracle”
(from Run the Jewels, 2013)
All right, so the only thing remotely Christmasy about this song by hardcore hip-hop duo Run the Jewels–aside from the title, of course–are the sleigh bells that open the track. But Killer Mike is a big, jolly man, and he and El-P do like to give away music toward the end of every year; so maybe the holiday connection makes a little bit of sense after all. Besides, these are the guys who recorded an entire cat-themed remix album: Run the Yules can only be a matter of time from now.
15. Big Freedia: “‘Twas the Night”
(from A Very Big Freedia Christmazz, 2016)
A holiday project from New Orleans bounce icon Big Freedia is the kind of thing that sells itself: whatever you’re imagining right now–aggressive club beats, odes to Santa Claus as a gay icon, a song about a big-booty Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer–is exactly on target. And frankly, if none of that sounds at all appealing to you, then we can’t be friends. As usual, Big Freedia came to slay; but this time, she also came to sleigh. BOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM
16. Jethro Tull: “Ring Out, Solstice Bells”
(from Songs from the Wood, 1977)
Let’s face it: for all the rhetoric about “the reason for the season” and “keeping the Christ in Christmas,” when we hang the garland and put up the tree, what we’re actually celebrating is the pagan festival of the winter solstice, not the birth of a 2000-year-old Jewish prophet in Jerusalem. So let’s embrace it. As Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson puts it: “Join together ‘neath the mistletoe / By the holy oak whereon it grows / Seven druids dance in seven time / Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.” Or, in other words, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
17. Billy Squier: “Christmas is the Time to Say ‘I Love You’”
(1981 single, available on A Rock and Roll Christmas)
Making a rock and roll Christmas song can be a tricky proposition; most artists tend to just play it safe and follow the Phil Spector blueprint (see: Tom Petty, the Boss). The brilliance of Billy Squier’s “Christmas is the Time to Say ‘I Love You’” is in its simplicity: just Squier, his guitar, and a room full of “carolers” bellowing along. It captures the raucous energy of a bar on Christmas Eve, and manages to be both a fun holiday song and a fun Billy Squier song–and who doesn’t love a little Billy Squier for Christmas?
The sole holiday song released by Prince has always been a bit of a bummer: as the title suggests, he’s spending “another lonely Christmas” because the woman he loved died seven Christmases ago. Well, you probably know where I’m going with this: the song is even more of a bummer this year, because this is the first Christmas we’ll be spending in a world without Prince. Fortunately, he was thoughtful enough to provide us with a coping strategy in advance: so if you need me this Christmas, I’ll be off in the corner, drinking banana daquiris until I’m blind. 2016 can fuck right off.
19. Blowfly: “The 12 Days of Christmas (The 12 Lays of Christmas)”
(from Blowfly Does XXX-mas, 1999)
But this is a Dystopian Dance Party playlist, so there’s really only one way we can end it: with a disgusting parody song by another legend 2016 took from us, Clarence Reid, a.k.a. Blowfly. His version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (retitled “The 12 Lays of Christmas”) is pretty much exactly what you expect. And after this disaster of a year, it’s nice to have something predictable to fall back on…a little like Christmas, as a matter of fact. Have a great holiday, and see you next week!