Stream a Playlist of 79 Punk Rock Christmas Songs: The Ramones, The Damned, Bad Religion & More

There’s a war on Christ­mas, don’t you know. The attacks are relentless—at every shop­ping mall, drug­store, gro­cery, fam­i­ly din­ner, bad­ly-lit office par­ty. It is the scourge of bland Christ­mas music, and it can absolute­ly ruin your hol­i­day. There you are, mer­ri­ly shop­ping for the per­fect gift or the per­fect ham, and, wham! The most dispir­it­ing ver­sion of “Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy” you’ve ever heard in your life. You feel sick, depressed, deranged. Is this some kind of son­ic weapon? Or do you respect the sea­son too much to let it be demeaned by medi­oc­rity?

Fight back, my friend, with the playlist below. Keep your Christ­mas cheer—if that’s your bag. The dis­crim­i­nat­ing Yule­tide cel­e­brant must guard their ears zeal­ous­ly, lest some undead zom­bie trav­es­ty of a “White Christ­mas” (or worse yet, “Blue Christ­mas”) does them in. Opt instead for the sim­ple cel­e­bra­tion of the Ramones’ “Mer­ry Christ­mas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).” Lis­ten to the Damned. You don’t have to believe in San­ta Claus, but you know “There Ain’t No San­i­ty Clause.”

The Van­dals keep it mov­ing with “My First X‑Mas (As A Woman),” a straight-ahead burst of pos­i­tiv­i­ty, empow­er­ment, and com­ing out as trans to the fam­i­ly. They return lat­er with “Grandpa’s Last X‑Mas,” an hon­est reck­on­ing with mor­tal­i­ty dur­ing the sea­son. Check out the earnest ren­di­tion of “O Come All Ye Faith­ful” from Bad Reli­gion, who clear­ly adore the song enough to real­ly do it jus­tice, even if many of their usu­al lyrics can be summed up by swap­ping the words in their name. (They put out a whole album of respect­ful Christ­mas tunes. “Any­one expect­ing some sort of sub­ver­sion of the hol­i­day clas­sics,” notes Apple Music, “will be dis­ap­point­ed.”)

As this playlist shows, punk rock has always had a spe­cial rela­tion­ship with Christ­mas. But if you think about it, so have many indie, fringe, and avant-garde move­ments. John Waters believes the “whole pur­pose of life is Christ­mas.” Andy Warhol “real­ly, real­ly loved Christ­mas,” and made sev­er­al Christ­mas-themed art­works. And in 1977, the Sex Pis­tols played their last UK gig, a Christ­mas ben­e­fit for an audi­ence of sev­en and eight year olds. John­ny Rot­ten remem­bered it lat­er as “one of the high­lights of mine and Sid’s career.”

Fan­tas­tic. The ulti­mate reward. One of my all-time favourite gigs. Young kids, and we’re doing Bod­ies and they’re burst­ing out with laugh­ter on the ‘f*ck this f*ck that’ verse. The cor­rect response: not the shock hor­ror ‘How dare you?’

The kids get it, why can’t we? Christ­mas is a fine time for irrev­er­ence, camp, crude humor, booze, and can­dor. It is also a time for the heart­felt appre­ci­a­tion most punks seem to feel for the hol­i­day of light shows and inflat­able rein­deer, of a crack­ling fire on TV and a place that does deliv­ery. San­ta Claus, the Holy Baby, and Grem­lins. Stuck with rel­a­tives who can’t get the spir­it of giv­ing? Put on “Bloody Unholy Christ­mas,” “I’ve Got a Bon­er for Christ­mas,” and “Cred­it Crunch Christ­mas,” and turn them all the way up. And have a very Mer­ry Christ­mas and Hap­py Hol­i­days.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stream 22 Hours of Funky, Rock­ing & Swing­ing Christ­mas Albums: From James Brown and John­ny Cash to Christo­pher Lee & The Ven­tures

David Bowie & Bing Cros­by Sing “The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy”: A Won­der­ful Christ­mas Chest­nut from 1977

John Waters Makes Hand­made Christ­mas Cards, Says the “Whole Pur­pose of Life is Christ­mas”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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