The best unconventional Christmas songs are a fantastic way to shake up your playlist after weeks of listening to Santa Baby on repeat.
For many people, one of the best things about the festive season is the cheery music found on your favorite radio stations. Unfortunately, the same old tunes can get old pretty fast, and deejays tend to leave the more obscure Christmas songs out of their roster entirely.
More often than not, you’ll find yourself listening to the same selection of well-known hits, from Feliz Navidad to Holly Jolly Christmas, hundreds of times before Christmas day arrives.
If you’re unlucky enough to work in retail or customer service, the repetition can leave you dreading the festive season. That’s why it’s such a good idea to have your own playlist handy.
With our list of unconventional Christmas songs, you can reignite your love for the holidays and join in with the spirit of the season once again. You can take a break from the “classics” while still ensuring you create the right atmosphere for family get-togethers and parties.
Let’s dive into our list of some of the best, most obscure Christmas songs.
The best unconventional Christmas songs around
For this list of the best unconventional Christmas songs, we’re not going to be focusing exclusively on one-hit wonders or music from a specific genre.
Our list focuses on songs you may not hear very often, as well as those that failed to get the critical acclaim or publicity they deserved when they were first released.
Hopefully, you’ll find at least a handful of uncommon Christmas songs below you can interspersed throughout your playlist to give you a break from more repetitive tunes.
1. Oi To The World: No Doubt
No Doubt was one of the most popular alternative bands in the world for a time before Gwen Stefani took off and launched her own solo career.
In 2003, the group released a cover of the song Oi To The World!, originally produced by the punk rock band the Vandals in 1996.
The No Doubt version of the song has a slightly more upbeat ska style energy and was introduced on the B-Side of Happy Now in the charts. If you want something a little more old-fashioned punk, you should definitely check out the Vandals version too.
2. Christmas Is Starting Now: Big Voodoo Daddy
Identified as a children’s Christmas hit thanks to its appearance on the show Phineas and Ferb, Christmas Is Starting N=; is a fantastic tune by Big Voodoo Daddy. The lyrics are brilliant and easy to sing along to, so you can get the whole family involved.
Big Voodoo Daddy gives us a swing-style song with this number, so it’s a fantastic reprieve from some of the more poppy and alt-rock options on this list of the best unconventional Christmas songs.
Make sure you check out their album for more swing records.
3. Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas: The Overtones
The Overtones have actually released quite a few remakes of classic Christmas songs over the years, such as Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Winter Wonderland.
However, you shouldn’t overlook this less common gem.
The song Good Ol’ Fashioned Christmas is great for invoking feelings of nostalgia with a lighthearted and joyous tone. If you’re looking for more great hits from the same genre listen to This Christmas by the same band.
4. Glow: Brett Eldredge
Glow is actually the name of a full studio album by country music singer Brett Eldredge. The collection of songs includes well-known tunes from Let It Snow to Baby It’s Cold Outside.
If you’re looking for more unusual Christmas songs you might be less familiar with start with the titular tune Glow.
The song includes orchestral elements, swing tones, as well as Eldredge’s own unique flavor. Within the lyrics, you’ll find plenty of standard festive clichés designed to get you ready for the season and excited about the holidays.
5. We All Need Christmas: Def Leppard
If you’re a fan of alternative and indie music, then you’re probably pretty familiar with Def Leppard already. These alt rockers are popular all around the world, but they never really considered releasing their own Christmas song until 2018.
The acoustic ballad is a brilliant insight into the other side of the Def Leppard band, focusing on amazing vocals and beautiful background music.
The song is featured in the Greatest Hits collection made by the group, known as The Story So Far.
6. Christmas Tonight: Dave Barnes
Back in 2010, Dave Barnes introduced a fantastic but somewhat underrated festive album named Very Merry Christmas. This is one of two holiday albums created by the artist during his career, and it’s often regarded to be the best.
There are plenty of great tunes to listen to on the collection, but Christmas Tonight really stands out as one of the top choices for obscure Christmas songs. It’s wonderfully catchy and fun, capable of sticking in your mind for days at a time.
It’s a wonder this piece didn’t become a radio hit.
7. Stay A Little Longer Santa: Shemekia Copeland
Finding the best uncommon Christmas songs means exploring a range of different genres and artists. Stay a Little Longer Santa is one of the best tunes created for the festive season, released in the Deluxe Edition”album for the Shemekia Copeland.
This is one of those songs for the festive season designed based on the concept that sex sells, similar to the likes of Santa Baby, with a little innuendo thrown in for good measure.
Its jazzy beat and amazing vocals are great for dancing under the mistletoe.
8. Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas: Eels
Belonging to the genres of indie, soul, and pop simultaneously, the Eels’ Christmas tune has something for just about everyone. The lyrics are simple, catchy, and straightforward enough that they’ll have you singing along in no time.
This song is tucked away into the B-Side of a classic album Electro-Shock Blues.
If you’re looking to add something a little more soulful to your Christmas playlist, this could definitely be a great choice for you.
9. It Snowed: Meaghan Smith
Canadian singer and songwriter Meaghan Smith created a folksy Christmas album in 2011, which includes a host of fantastic songs, including remakes of well-known ditties like Baby It’s Cold Outside.
For a truly joyous musical experience, we’d recommend starting with the titular song for the album It Snowed.
The music is brimming with trumpets, passionate singing, and a phenomenal backing beat. This retro song is sure to have you thinking back to your early Christmas memories.
10. We Wish You A Merry Christmas: Weezer
Alright, so this is less of an obscure Christmas song compared to some of the options we’ve covered so far, if only for the fact you’ll probably be able to sing along to the lyrics. However, Weezer really does bring new life into an old Christmas classic with this tune.
The song is packed full of new sounds and a lot speedier than the original, so it’s sure to lift your spirits. It’s definitely worth checking out the Christmas With Weezer album if you’re looking for some additional alternatives to Christmas oldies.
11. Wake Up, Wake Up: Matt Wertz
There’s something about Christmas that seems to work perfectly with the sound of trumpets. Maybe it’s because many of us associate more Christmas classical orchestras with some popular festive tunes. Perhaps it’s because trumpets elicit a feeling of joy in many of us.
Either way, if you’re looking for your trumpet fix in your unconventional Christmas songs playlist, Wake Up, Wake Up by Matt Wertz is a fantastic choice, ready to speak to your inner child.
12. Don’t Shoot Me Santa: The Killers
If you love the Killers already, this is probably one of the more uncommon Christmas songs you’re likely to recognize. The song was produced in 2011 on the Red Christmas EP (online) and recreated for the album Don’t Waste Your Wishes in 2016.
With Don’t Shoot Me Santa, you get an unusual record for the festive season, which flies in the face of many traditional tunes.
The song was originally a charity record created to raise funds for the anti-AIDS campaign.
13. Drivin’ Round Town: Gabe Dixon
A lesser-known artist in the Christmas landscape, Gabe Dixon hasn’t achieved nearly as much acclaim for his festive tunes as fans would expect.
This talented singer and songwriter released a phenomenal original Christmas record in 2013.
The song is extremely touching and memorable, to the point where it’s even become available for use in TikTok videos within recent years.
Make sure you check out some of Dixon’s other non-Christmas songs if you like what you hear.
14. Christmas Tree: Lady Gaga
While Lady Gaga might not be a particularly obscure artist, her version of a Christmas song definitely fell under quite a few radars in 2008.
The song was released as a download-only single for the festive period, and it doesn’t generally appear on most radio stations.
This is a slightly racier song from our list of the top unconventional Christmas tunes, with a lot of sexual innuendo, but it’s still a lot of fun.
15. I Got Your Christmas Right Here: Aloe Blacc
This is one of the funkiest obscure Christmas songs around and a fantastic addition to any playlist if you’re looking for something to groove to. If you’re a bit tired of the emotional and slow Christmas songs that tend to play throughout winter, this is a good alternative.
I Got Your Christmas Right Here is a fun and flirty earworm sure to get you singing along in no time.
Aloe also has his own dedicated Christmas album featuring songs like All I Want For Christmas.
16. I Won’t Be Home For Christmas: Blink 182
Initially, the famous pop-punk band Blink 182 recorded their song I Won’t Be Home For Christmas for a radio promotion in 1997. However, the tune wasn’t officially released as a single to buy until a lot later in 2001.
The California band reached the number-one spot in Canada with this tune for the first time, so it might be a little less obscure if you’re from the North.
17. Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto: Snoop Dogg
Looking for something entirely different for your playlist of unconventional Christmas songs? Then you can’t go wrong with this tune from the iconic Snoop Dogg.
The tune features a sample from Do Your Thing by Isaac Hayes.
This piece originally appeared on a charity compilation created by Death Row Records, known as Christmas On Death Row.
It’s a must-have tune for hip-hop lovers in the festive months.
18. Christmas Morning: House of Heroes
A world away from the previous piece on our list, Christmas Morning by House of Heroes is a sweet, serene, and moving song. If you like the kind of tune during the festive season that reminds you of your childhood mornings waking up to presents, this could be the ideal choice.
It’s relaxing, nostalgic, and packed with beautiful sentiment that you just can’t help but fall in love with.
This could be the ideal piece to wind down to on Christmas Eve.
19. One More Sleep Til Christmas: The Muppets
We said we were going to cover all kinds of artists in this list – and we meant it. As unusual Christmas songs go, it doesn’t get more obscure than a tune sung by a frog puppet.
Kermit the Frog is the main voice you’ll hear in this tune, but there are plenty of other accompanying notes too.
This tune is touching, emotional, and brimming with bouncy vibes which are sure to have you singing along with the whole family.
20. Father Christmas: The Kinks
Going back to the punk rock genre, this unconventional Christmas song by the Kinks is a much-loved option among alternative music fans. The Kinks released this song on the Misfits album, and it’s sure to stand out from the other tunes on your playlist.
In the lyrics, the singer threatens to fight Father Christmas unless Santa coughs up some extra cash on Christmas morning.
It sounds pretty aggressive, but it’s a great commentary on people struggling throughout the festive season.
21. Christmastime: Barenaked Ladies
Way back in 2004, the Barenaked Ladies took part in the growing trend of releasing dedicated festive albums with the collection Barenaked For The Holidays.”
The songs on the collection even feature Michael Bublé, someone most of us traditionally associate with Christmas.
There are a lot of quirky and fun songs on the album, but Christmastime is one of our favorites.
There’s also a tune where the group sings Happy Birthday to Jesus.
22. Everybody Loves Christmas: Eddie Money
Appearing on both the album Shakin’ With The Money Man and in the movie The Santa Claus 2, Everybody Loves Christmas is an instant classic.
Unfortunately, the song hasn’t gotten a lot of attention from radio stations over the years.
This is one of those fantastic Christmas songs that speaks directly to your inner child, with lyrics all about the joy and magic of the holidays.
23. Christmas of Love: Little Isidor And The Inquisitors
This is one of the top uncommon Christmas songs to appear in a famous festive movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Released in the year 2000, the song was produced by Little Isador and The Inquisitors.
You may even remember it from the film.
This is one of the catchiest songs, which never gets much love from radio stations through the festive season.
The vocals are fantastic, the beat is impossible to get out of your head, and the overall atmosphere of the music is incredible.
24. White Wine in the Sun: Tim Minchin
If you’re familiar with Tim Minchin, you’re probably up to date on a number of his novelty songs released over the years.
The great thing about this song is how unconventional it is compared to the kind of music we listen to throughout the winter months.
Minchin takes a more skeptical approach to the Christmas celebrations while singing a love song to his baby girl.
At the same time, Tim reminds us not everyone has the same experience of Christmas, as in Australia, the festive season happens in Summer!
25. Santa Be Good to Me: John Oates
Introduced in the album Santa Be Good To Me by Hall & Oates, the title song is a must-have for any unusual Christmas song list. The song lyrics are similar in some ways to Santa Baby, but instead of asking Father Christmas for a present, Oates asks for the girl of his dreams.
The backing band The Time Jumpers also adds something really special to this tune, giving it a fun and jazzy vibe that you just won’t be able to ignore.
26. Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! Sufjan Stevens
Finishing our list of the best unconventional Christmas songs with something truly unusual, we have a song that falls into many different genres. The tune Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance by Sufjan Stevens appears on the album Songs for Christmas from 2006.
Combining elements of folk, indie, pop, and children’s music, this tune really does have it all. There are even elven-style voices counting down at the start of the song in Spanish.
It’s a truly wacky but wonderfully creative festive tune.
27. Goldfinger – ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’
Yes, we know the original version of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is already a classic Christmas song. However, this cover by the ska punk band Goldfinger brings a whole new level of energy to the table.
It’s hard not to love this song’s playful and lively feel. Moreover, the horns are absolutely fantastic.
If you’re not familiar with Goldfinger, give them a listen. They have a great discography of fun and energetic tunes that will definitely get you dancing.
28. River: Sarah McLachlan
River is a melancholic and beautiful Christmas song originally written by Joni Mitchell. While many artists have done their rendition of the track, Sarah McLachlan’s version stands out as one of the best.
The Canadian singer’s soft and ethereal voice, combined with her piano accompaniment, brings a different vibe to the song.
The song’s stanzas, like “Singing songs of joy and peace” and “It’s coming on Christmas,” perfectly capture the bittersweet emotions of the holiday season. It’s a perfect song to listen to while sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace.
29. Last Christmas: Jimmy Eat World
Last Christmas was originally released by the British Pop Duo Wham! in 1984 and has since become a beloved holiday hit.
A ballad of doomed romance, the song is given a punk rock makeover by Jimmy Eat World. With their signature energetic guitar riffs and strong vocals, this cover will have you singing along and feeling all the angst of unrequited love during the holiday season.
It’s a refreshing take on a classic Christmas tune that will definitely add some edge to your holiday playlist.
Listening to the main stanza, “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,” will have you headbanging and dancing in no time.
30. Fairytale of New York: Ronan Keating ft. Maire Brennan
Originally released by the Irish band The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl in 1987, Fairytale of New York is among the best unconventional Christmas songs ever for a good reason.
Ronan Keating and Maire Brennan’s cover is a beautiful, heartfelt rendition of the Christmas classic song. Their voices blend together perfectly, creating a hauntingly beautiful melody that gives you all the feels.
The song’s message is a perfect reminder that Christmas provides an opportunity for recrimination, merry making, and reconciliation. It’s all about an Irish man who spent Christmas Eve in a New York drunk tank.
The lyrics, filled with heartbreak and longing, are a perfect contrast to the cheerful holiday season. Consequently, this song is definitely a must-have on your Christmas playlist.
31. Stay Another Day: East 17
A staple in the U.K. Christmas playlists, Stay Another Day by East 17 is not your typical jolly and festive holiday tune. Instead, it’s a melancholic ballad about loss and grief.
In an interview with Songwriting Magazine, Tony said that he based the song on his brother’s suicide and the pain he endured due to the loss.
He added that he wanted to write a song for people who were hurting during the holiday season.
With soulful vocals, emotional lyrics, and gospel choir harmonies, Stay Another Day is far from your typical Christmas song. However, it’s one of those unconventional songs that will make you feel all sorts of emotions during the holiday season.
32. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: Brenda Lee
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” may not sound like an unconventional song, but Brenda Lee’s iconic cover is often overlooked in favor of more modern artists.
Lee was only 13 years old when she recorded this upbeat holiday tune, and her powerful vocals can rival those of any pop star today. Plus, this song is perfect for a festive dance party thanks to its catchy chorus and fun instrumentals.
33. Christmas in Hollis: Run DMC
Who says rap can’t be festive? Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC is a perfect example of how hip hop can bring holiday cheer.
The song tells the story of Run DMC’s Christmas adventures in Hollis, Queens and features classic rap elements like record scratching and funky beats.
Additionally, it includes some tongue-in-cheek references to Santa Claus, gingerbread men, and other festive elements.
Lyrics like “Decorate the house with lights at night” help set the mood for a festive and fun Christmas time. It’s also an excellent song to add to your workout playlist to keep you energized during those Christmas workouts.
34. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home): Death Cab for Cutie
Originally released by Darlene Love in 1963, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is given a more melancholic spin by indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie.
Lead singer Benjamin Gibbard’s emotive vocals, coupled with the hauntingly beautiful instrumentals, make this cover stand out from others.
Gibbard’s delivery perfectly captures the song’s message about yearning for a loved one at Christmas time.
This unconventional Christmas song is a perfect addition to any holiday playlist, especially for those who may be missing someone special during the holiday season.
35. Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight): The Ramones
Known for their punk rock sound, The Ramones brought their signature style to Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight). This upbeat and catchy tune is all about wanting to avoid conflict and have a peaceful Christmas time.
The lyric “Cause Christmas ain’t the time for breaking each other’s heart” is a simple yet powerful reminder to spread love and joy during the holiday season.
The song’s fast-paced guitar riffs and energetic vocals will have you dancing around your Christmas tree in no time.
36. The Season’s Upon Us: Dropkick Murphys
For those who may not be fans of traditional Christmas music, The Season’s Upon Us by Dropkick Murphys is the perfect alternative Christmas song. The song pokes fun at all the chaos and drama that often comes with family gatherings during the holidays.
With lyrics like “There’s lights on the trees and there’s wreaths to be hung” and references to mischief, mayhem, and songs, this song is a hilarious and relatable take on the holiday season.
The Celtic-influenced instrumentals add an extra layer of fun to the already entertaining tune.
Embrace some obscure Christmas songs this year
Unconventional Christmas songs are an excellent way to transform your festive playlist with something a little different this year.
While there’s a good chance you already have some favorites in mind you can’t wait to listen to, it’s fair to say the same old songs get tiresome pretty fast.
Mixing up your routine with the best obscure Christmas songs will keep your musical spirit as fresh as possible as you stumble your way through the holiday season. Speaking of obscure, here’s our list of Old Christmas Songs You Forgot About.
I know many people who’d love for it to be Christmas every day (me included). Thanks to these Top Christmas Radio Stations All Year Round, I can listen to my Christmas tunes even in July!
Radio Fidelity: For the love of radio.