Although it sometimes seems hard to believe, there is holiday music that is festive, seasonal and not totally irritating. Here are some holiday party jams that you could listen to any time of year (though we don’t specifically recommend that).
Clarence Carter, “Backdoor Santa”
Carter’s funky take on holiday infidelity strips away the cutesiness of “I Caught Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and replaces it with a down and dirty, horn-heavy funk beat that captures Christmas at its most debaucherous.
Count Basie, “Jingle Bells”
The Count takes this familiar holiday staple and imbues it with all the swing his powerful big band can muster on this classic 1962 recording.
Red Simpson, “Truckin Trees for Christmas”
Simpson had a maniacal, single-minded obsession with 18 wheelers and his music is almost exclusively fixated on the subject. Hence, “Truckers Christmas,” a nearly forgotten obscurity from 1973 that is the Trucker Country/Christmas Carol mashup you’ve been waiting for.
Beach Boys, “Little Saint Nick”
A Brian Wilson piece from an album that mixed Christmas standards with originals. All of the Beach Boys’ best qualities — fantastic harmonies, complex arrangements — are on full display here along with a sprinkling of sleigh bells.
Darlene Love, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
For 28 of David Letterman’s 33 years, Darlene Love was a holiday staple, joining Paul Schaeffer and the band for an annual barrel through this now Christmas classic. Just because Letterman’s gone into retirement doesn’t mean the tradition has to stop.
The Kinks, “Father Christmas”
Screaming guitars and almost military drums — this is one of the only Christmas songs in existence that basically threatens to mug and assault St. Nick.