Apparently it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, fairy lights, Festive Friends and Ferrero Rocher are all brilliant but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the weather is awful (it’s constantly cold, wet and refuses to snow while darkness rolls around just after lunch) and there’s an overwhelming amount of pressure surrounding just about everything.
It’s understandable that you won’t be jolly all the time and that’s totally fine. We’re here to help soundtrack that creeping misery. Whether angsty covers of Christmas classics or original festive tracks to tug on your heartstrings, these songs are the perfect soundtrack for feeling emo under the mistletoe. T’is the season, after all.
My Chemical Romance - All I Want For Christmas Is You
Taking the iconic Mariah Carey anthem and giving it heaps of snarling punk attitude, My Chemical Romance’s version is driven by the same bloodthirsty revenge of Three Cheers. Rough, ready and oh-so-grimey, the band manage to keep the overblown declarations of love at the heart of the track despite Gerard Way apparently singing with razorblades in his mouth. It’s a world away from their gleeful original Christmas song, Every Snowflake Is Different (Just Like You) but it’s perfect for anyone who really needs to scream into the tinsel-laden void.
Phoebe Bridgers - If We Make It Through December
Any of Phoebe Bridgers’ annual Christmas songs would be at home on this list but her take on Merle Haggard’s If We Make It Through December is perhaps her most devastating Yuletide turn yet. With a glimmer of #NewYearNewMe hope amongst an ocean of despair, Bridgers’ haunted vocals are captivating as she dreams of a better tomorrow that’s just out of reach. Better yet, all proceeds from the cover go to Downtown Women’s Center, an LA organisation focused on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness so you can do something decent while having your heart broken.
Creeper - Fairytale Of New York
The original bleak Christmas anthem is given a much-needed update thanks to purveyors of fine South Coast Misery, Creeper. Following the blueprints of the original, vocalists Hannah Greenwood and Will Gould trade haggard, emotionally charged blows while the party rages behind them, capturing the spirit of holiday breakups perfectly while also avoiding any slurs. It’s 2020 chaps, there’s simply no need for it.
Poppy - I Won’t Be Home For Christmas
Despite releasing the ferocious, nu-metal inspired I Disagree earlier this year, Poppy’s A Very Poppy Christmas EP sees her replace industrial pop for something much more stripped back and vulnerable. While I Like Presents, Kisses In The Snow and her take on Bing Crosby’s Silver Bells evoke warm feelings of togetherness, the stark I Won’t Be Home For Christmas is as lonely as they come.
Blink 182 - Boxing Day
Over the years, Blink 182 have released a whole load of Christmas tracks. If you want something a little more aggro and upbeat to go with your mince pies, there’s Happy Holidays, You Bastard, I Won’t Be Home For Christmas or Not Another Christmas Song to choose from but the sombre Boxing Day is the best of the lot. Released as part of their Dogs Eating Dogs EP, it finally saw the reunited Mark, Tom and Travis Show in a studio together after the disjointed (if underrated) Neighbourhoods and was the last studio release from the classic lineup. Stripped back but packing an emotional punch, it’s the perfect example of why people still want Delonge back in the band.
Pale Waves - Last Christmas
Despite the heartbreak that kickstarts Wham’s Last Christmas, the track is one of hope and optimism. Goth poppers Pale Waves aren’t interested in that, though, as they twist the jangly, uptempo song into something deliciously miserable. Deliberate and haunted, Heather Baron Gracie’s vocals are full of lament throughout the cover while the brooding drums create the perfect accompaniment to gazing longingly out of a window. If that wasn’t emo enough, there’s not a jingle bell to be found.
Good Charlotte - Christmas By The Phone
The band still haven’t followed up on 2017’s A GC Christmas, Pt 1 but they’ve set the bar real high with this trio of yuletide anthems. There’s a cover of Wham’s Last Christmas as well as two brilliant originals. Let The World Be Still is lovely, hopeful and full of romance but if you want something really emo, Christmas By The Phone is the track for you. Written about the Madden Brothers’ absent father, it’s understandably bitter as dreams are broken and holiday cheer evaporates atop pummelling pop-punk fury.
The Killers - Don’t Shoot Me Santa
Yes, the band behind the ultimate summer anthem also love Christmas, racking up 11 festive bops that saw the Las Vegas mob collaborate with everyone from Elton John to Mariachi El Bronx!. Most are as giddy as you’d expect from a band who made their name looking on the Brightside but Don’t Shoot Me Santa is a cautionary tale about arming ol’ Saint Nicholas.
Fall Out Boy - Yule Shoot Your Eye Out
Perhaps the pinnacle of original Christmas songs (Sorry, The Darkness), Fall Out Boy’s festive number captures the same angsty spirit and ambition that turned From Under The Cork Tree into a global phenomenon. 'All I want this year is for you to dedicate your last breath to me before you bury yourself alive', sings Patrick Stump atop hurried acoustic guitar, channeling his inner The Grinch. Guess that makes Pete Wentz his dog Max.
Jimmy Eat World - Christmas Card
Not content with releasing Christmas EP, a two-track record that sees them cover Wham’s Last Christmas (yes, another one) and Low’s miserable If You Were Born Today, Jimmy Eat World have also penned a couple of brilliant festive originals. There’s the raw Untitled (Seasonal), a B-Side from their Static Prevails era but perhaps best of all is Christmas Card, a bonus track from the genre-defining Clarity. Taking absolutely no prisoners, it flickers between all out rage and solemn regret, which is a real festive vibe.
Weezer - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Long before Weezer became the world’s greatest wedding band with their Teal album, they had a turn as raucous carol singers with 2008’s Christmas With Weezer. Opener We Wish You A Merry Christmas is full of festive, chaotic energy while Silent Night is delivered with a brandy-soaked tongue firmly in cheek. It’s their rendition of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing that feels the most like Weezer, so it’s obviously the best. Guitar-driven and with a buoyant energy, it’s as excitable as Christmas Eve.
Twenty One Pilots - Christmas Saves The Year
A surprisingly downbeat track from the larger-than-life duo, Twenty One Pilots’ first Christmas song is a nostalgic, rose-tinted anthem. Squeezing the dregs of optimism from a 2020 that’s been pretty much awful, it finds safety in the comfort of the past. Remember believing in Santa? Not being able to sleep the night before because you’re so excited? Hugging your loved ones because they gave you some Lynx Africa? Simpler times.