10 alternative Christmas anthems to soundtrack your festive season and drown out Wham! and Mariah Carey

Alternative Xmas Anthems
(Image credit: Various)

If reading the title of this article has you ready to start a fight, then this list is not for you. This one’s for those of us who are driven mad every year by the inevitable, and utterly relentless, barrage of Mariah Carey, Wham!, Slade, Wizzard, etc, those 'feel-good' standards that end up draining every last drop of festive cheer from our souls. If you’re more than ready to retire the traditional Chrimbo classics, here are 10 modern tunes to get you in the spirit of the season – each with an alternative twist.

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The Linda Lindas – Groovy Xmas

When punk bands write a Christmas song, there’s usually a tendency to get cynical with it – we see you Blink-182 and NOFX -  but The Linda Lindas embrace the fun, wholesome spirit of the season with the joyous, youthful exuberance of Groovy Xmas, dreaming of finding a “sweet axe” underneath the tree, and regaling us with tales of feline mischief.

Dream Nails – Lonely Star (Christmas Song)

Let’s be real, sometimes Christmas just plain sucks. Dream Nails recognise that, and with Lonely Star they’re here to tell you that you’re not alone. Reminiscent of classic Christmas bangers in its sound but with a much more relatable message, the UK’s favourite DIY punks have written an anthem for anyone who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of spending Christmas with their so-called 'loved ones'.

Mother Mother – Cry Christmas

Yep, another Christmas song for those who dread spending the holidays with a chaotic family. Whether it’s your conspiracy theorist uncle and his coked-out girlfriend, or the endless diet of bone-dry turkey that’s getting you down, Canadian indie-rockers Mother Mother have seen it all, and are here for you at this difficult time friends. 

Wolf Alice – Santa Baby

Breathing new life into the Eartha Kitt classic, Wolf Alice recorded a version of Santa Baby that puts Michael Bublé’s heavily edited cover to shame. With Ellie Roswell’s effortlessly cool vocals and laid-back attitude, it’s a fresh, nonchalant take on a song that’s been endlessly covered through the years. Stick this on your festive playlist for instant cool points.

Lauran Hibberd – Father Christmas

Isle of Wight slacker-pop sensation Lauran Hibberd shared a cover of The Kinks’ Father Christmas, injecting it with her typical fuzzy guitars and sarcasm. A tantalising blend of the past and the present, her version of the song is a Christmas anthem for the disillusioned. If one Christmas cover isn’t enough for you, you can also pop on her cover of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.

Phoebe Bridgers – So Much Wine

Phoebe Bridgers’ Christmas covers have become a staple of the holidays for people who aren’t afraid of a good old-fashioned seasonal sob. So Much Wine is one example of Bridgers taking on unconventional Christmas songs, putting her own special spin on this Handsome Family track. It’s not the cheeriest song on the list, admittedly, but hey, we have more than enough happy Christmas songs.

Circa Waves – Miss Christmas

A track that’s at once reminiscent of classic Christmas pop, and a hearty helping of Circa Waves' own anthemic indie sound, embracing nostalgia without taking themselves too seriously. Their stated intention was to make a track that ‘could sit between Mariah Carey and Paul McCartney on the nation’s Christmas Day', and this nails the brief perfectly. This year, we’ll be asking Santa for more indie rock festive bangers.

Poppy – I Won’t Be Home For Christmas

With Poppy, you always have to expect the unexpected, so you shouldn’t be surprised that she released a whole Christmas EP back in 2020. I Won’t Be Home For Christmas sees her sample Silent Night in this stripped-back, mellow take on holiday music. It’s a far cry from the metal-tinged album I Disagree she released the same year, yet somehow it makes total sense for her as an artist.

100 gecs – sympathy 4 the grinch

Sympathy 4 the grinch may be pure, unhinged hyperpop with added sleigh bells, but in spirit it’s the natural successor to cynical holiday classics like Blink-182’s I Won’t Be Home For Christmas, telling a grim tale of revenge on Santa Claus before making off with his bag of toys. Because let’s get honest, the older we get, the more we understand where the Grinch is coming from.

Lucy Dacus – Last Christmas

Ending on an upbeat note, Lucy Dacus’ indie take on Wham!'s evergreen festive anthem is exactly what you need this December. Plus, according to the rules of Whamageddon, covers are 100% allowed, so you don’t have to miss out on the sheer joy of the song, and you get the added bonus of Dacus’ grungy guitars and singular charm.

Freelance writer, Louder

In addition to contributing to Louder, Vicky writes for The Line of Best Fit, Gigwise, New Noise Magazine and more.