8 Holiday Songs With An Alternative Twist

It’s finally (already!?) mid December, and with that comes frantic shopping, string lights, and, of course, holiday music. Keeping in spirit, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite songs for the Christmas season!


1. “Sickly Sweet Holidays” - Dallon Weekes

This song starts out with a cheerful combination of piano and bells before dissolving into fuzzy guitar and adding Weekes’ vocals. It’s a playful love song about how the holidays can drag on when you’re missing someone, but the last verse about being able to enjoy the holidays when you’re with someone you love ends the tune on a cute note. The song also includes an incredible piano solo about halfway through! If you’re a fan of “Sickly Sweet Holidays,” be sure to check out Weekes’ other holiday projects, “CHRISTMAS DRAG” and “Please Don’t Jump (It’s Christmas).”


2. “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out” - Fall Out Boy

Would it be an alternative Christmas without Fall Out Boy? Released as bonus track off of their greatest hits album, Believers Never Die, and then re-released by Island Records on the This Is Christmas EP in 2017, this alt holiday classic also opens with jingle bells which are quickly joined by acoustic guitar. A spiteful, funny song detailing the wishes of someone who is heartbroken towards their ex during the holidays, this song might not exactly put you in the cheerful spirit, but it perfectly embodies what you’d expect from a FOB holiday song. Be sure to listen all the way to the end to listen to Patrick Stump praising his own band’s Christmas song with a fake lisp.


3. “Wish List” - Neon Trees

Neon Trees as a whole are underrated, and this song of theirs is no exception. “Wish List” is one of my all time favorite holiday songs. The song is upbeat, full of percussion and electric guitar, and references a lot of  holiday-related imagery and items to keep in the holiday spirit. It’s also a plea for love during the holidays, but it maintains a cheerful tone overall. Good luck trying not to dance when this song comes on!


4. “Fool’s Holiday” - All Time Low

...Another love song. What can I say? They’re alternative artists, not professional holiday song writers. This song is full of regret, a plea for a second chance with an old flame. It’s festive yet heartbreaking, the perfect combination! “Fool’s Holiday” also utilizes chimes and bells combined with heavy guitar and drums. There’s also a killer guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through. All Time Low choose to experiment with this heavier side for this song, despite it being a holiday song. Check out the entire Punk Goes Christmas album here.


4b. “Merry Christmas, Kiss My A**” - All Time Low

All Time Low is so good at holiday songs that both songs deserve to be individually mentioned on this list. Although it’s technically a Christmas song, this tune was actually released on the deluxe version of their 2011 album Dirty Work as a bonus track. This song is similar to “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out” in that instead of hoping for love, it details a miserable experience with a relationship during the holidays, delivering a clear message to the ex-lover. It sounds just like a typical All Time Low song with a touch of holiday humor thrown in for good measure. At the end of the album version (unfortunately not included in the music video posted by the band on YouTube), there’s even a sample of a scene from Christmas Vacation!


5. “We’ve Got Diggin’ Out To Do” - You, Me, and Everyone We Know

This is probably the most atypical holiday song on the list, mentioning seasonal depression and Christmas from the perspective of someone who does not celebrate. However, it also takes a lighter tone, joking about daylight savings and seeing an ex’s parents during the holidays. The jingle bells make a return yet again, and “We’ve Got Diggin’ Out To Do” also showcases a fun guitar solo. A critique of and rebellion against the typical holiday cheer, this song is not to be taken seriously. If you’re a fan of their sound, listen to You, Me, and Everyone We Know’s complete Christmas album A Mutty Christmas.


6. “Feels Like Christmas” - Panic! At The Disco

Another alt pop classic, Panic! At The Disco was the last on this list to hop on the Christmas song band wagon. “Feels Like Christmas” was released just last year, after much demand from fans for a holiday song. It opens with an electric guitar rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and, you guessed it… jingle bells. “Feels Like Christmas” is a poppy, feel-good tune highlighting the best parts of the holiday. If you’re a fan of the band, there is also a minute-and-a-half-long unofficial cover of Brendon Urie singing “White Christmas” on YouTube.


7. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” - The Holidaze

This song is alternative overload, as vocalists from Simple Plan, All Time Low, Good Charlotte, and 5 Seconds of Summer band together with John Feldmann to create this reimagination of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The song begins with a very relaxed tempo and subdued accompaniment, allowing the incredible vocals to shine through. Don’t let the first half of the song fool you, though. Soon enough upbeat drums and electric guitar take over the song, increasing the tempo. The vocals also change to a more punk sound. It’s a classic Christmas song that will delight alternative fans!


8. “The Lights and Buzz” - Jack’s Mannequin

Prep yourself before you listen to this song, as it is hands down the most sad but hopeful holiday song you’ll ever hear. The song was written and released after McMahon went through treatment for his leukemia, and is a reflection of living with and surviving the disease during the holiday season. The modulation of McMahon’s voice during the verses gives the song an old radio sound, and the general vibe is typical of McMahon’s music. The song makes you think about the real reasons to be thankful during the holidays, making it much more serious than the other songs on this list. Despite its general lack of cheer and humor in comparison to the rest of this list, “The Lights and Buzz” is a touching, heartfelt holiday song that I can’t miss listening to at this time every year. As well as appearing on the remastered version of Everything In Transit, it also appears on the alternative artist holiday compilation album Gift Wrapped, which you can listen to here.


Honorable Mention: Merry Flippin’ Christmas (Volumes 1 and 2) - Bowling For Soup

Bowling For Soup went the extra mile, and released not one, not two, but fourteen holiday songs for this Christmas album. There are so many that it was impossible for me to pick just one or two to talk about specifically on this list, so if you have the time make sure to check out the whole album and pick favorites for yourself!


If you need a break from the usual, overplayed Christmas songs, this list is for you. Alternative artists producing covers of and original seasonal tunes is the perfect way to spice up your holiday season!


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