Between month-long radio takeovers and the inescapable audio inside your office’s elevators, Christmas music can become one of the least-merry aspects of the holidays. As a personal gift from us to you, we combed the internet (and picked our office-mates’ brains) for under-the-radar Xmas gems to put you in the holiday spirit this weekend. Pour some eggnog, hit play—and take a well-deserved break from The Chipmunks and Zooey Deschanel.
Bon Jovi. While there’s lots to be said for this Bon Jovi White House performance from Xmas ’98 (sharp tuxes, quasi-lecherous Whoopi Goldberg intro, Special Olympics fundraiser), it’s just not possible to one-up the video above, co-starring Herb Ritts muse and Pepsi pusher Cindy Crawford.
Run DMC. Remember when rap was almost wholesome? Here, the guys save Christmas and praise Mom’s homecooking, all with signature attention to detail (note the Cadillac logo on Santa’s sleigh). Extra style shout-outs for DMC’s dapper DB coat and Run’s Portland Trailblazers jacket.
Wham! As unlikely as it seems—for a Christmas song, a Wham! song, and especially a Wham! Christmas song—a small, completely unscientific poll in our office found very little to be annoyed about by this song. It’s kind of catchy, but not cloyingly so. Oddly soothing. Do you agree, or have we had too much fruitcake?
Boyz II Men. Remember that time on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Will ruined Christmas by not getting the world’s favorite ’90s R&B group to sing a capella at baby Nicky’s christening? Us neither, because it never happened. Miracles are real! Especially on sitcoms.
Band Aid. OK, this one might qualify as over-played this time of year. And has some truly mood-dampening lyrics if you listen closely (everyone, please do something charitable this yuletide). And ranks high on the A.V. Club’s list of most-hated holiday tunes. BUT: It’s worth watching just for the all-star ’80s lineup’s throwback hair stylings. Subtitled en español for a feliz Navidad.
David Bowie x Bing Crosby. The Thin White Duke has done more than a couple surprising collaborations over the years, but…come on. Worlds collide, minds blown. Are we the last to know about this? Click to about 1:48 if you prefer to skip the stilted banter—not that you should, it’s TV Christmas-special solid gold.
Dogs. To the uninitiated, this kitschy Christmas classic probably comes off as just another entry in the vast canon of cute cat videos, baby sloths, bunnies riding goats, and hamsters on pianos that now saturate the internet. But get this: The original recording was created by a Danish ornithologist in the 1950s, and was one of the first examples of modern-day pitch manipulation and audio splicing. We chose to show the “cover version” above because it looks like dogs are actually performing it live (they’re probably all computer-animated robots, who knows)—but to hear the original ’50s version, click here.