Whether you’re looking for songs to spice up a holiday party playlist or if alt-rock is the only way that you can tolerate holiday music, this playlist has a little something for everyone — electric guitar, heartbreak, comedy, angst, covers of classics and delightful originals.
Note: Not all of the songs with adult content are marked as explicit in Spotify, so watch out for f-bombs, especially if you plan on playing any of these following songs around family.
The song starts with a riff that feels as if the Ramone’s “I Wanna Be Sedated” is about to play, but it quickly turns into a fun cover of a holiday song that is usually a snooze fest.
“Don’t Shoot Me Santa”
I’m a sucker for comedic holiday tunes and this song by The Killers is probably my favorite. The song goes back and forth between a slow melody with spoken word lyrics and an upbeat melody. That is very Killers.
“I Miss You Most On Christmas”
Bowling for Soup
Bowling For Soup released their first album in 1998, peaking in the mid to late 2000s with their hits “1985” and “High School Never Ends.” “I Miss You Most On Christmas” is a great song about heartbreak from their album “Merry Flippin’ Christmas” and brings back serious middle school vibes.
“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”
Reel Big Fish
“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” is already a fun holiday song, but something about electric guitar and the classic Reel Big Fish brass playing makes it so much better.
“Merry Something To You”
The band member’s outfit choices alone make it hard to take DEVO seriously. It’s clear in “Merry Something To You” that DEVO isn’t taking themselves too seriously either, indicated by exaggerated singing voices and comedic lyrics.
“Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass”
All Time Low
Nothing speaks to my inner 14-year-old more than the line, “when I gave you my heart, you ripped it apart like the wrapping paper trash.” Anyone who experienced high school heartbreak can relate to this holiday tune.
New Found Glory
New Found Glory is another group that really peaked during the early 2000s and in my opinion, their best album is actually an album of covers. However, this original anti-holiday song featured on the album “We Won’t Be Home For Christmas” is melancholy in the best way and includes a fun “dashing through the snow” guitar riff.
Jimmy Eat World
Don’t forget to add Jimmy Eat World’s cover of “Last Christmas” to your holiday playlist.
“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)”
The Ramones are an essential addition to any punk or alternative rock playlist. Luckily, they have a perfect holiday song to include on your holiday playlist.
“Christmas, Baby Please Come Home”
I actually really like the original version of “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home.” However, there is something almost dark about Anberlin’s cover that I can’t help but love.
Probably the most classic holiday song on this playlist is The Kinks’ “Father Christmas.” On the surface, it’s a fun tune about kids beating up a mall Santa, but on a deeper level, the song is a discussion about class issues around the holidays.
“Happy Holidays, You Bastard”
“Happy Holidays, You Bastard” is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most vulgar of the songs on this playlist. But don’t worry, it’s only 43 seconds, so maybe your family won’t notice the excessive profanity.
“Island of Misfit Toys”
There is nothing more predictable yet fitting than the Misfits covering “Island of Misfit Toys.”
“What We Do On Christmas”
Atom And His Package
Disguised as a Christmas song (and poorly, I might add), “What We Do On Christmas” is actually about what Jews do on Christmas. Spoiler — they use it to plan world domination.
Somebody once told me that Smash Mouth had a holiday album that wasn’t terrible. They weren’t wrong. “Snoopy’s Christmas” appears on their album “The Gift of Rock.”
“All I Want for Christmas is You”
My Chemical Romance
MCR will always hold a special place in my heart around the holidays. “Black Parade” will forever remind me of walking down the middle of the street to my bus stop after a fresh snow, with my iPod volume all the way up. No tire tracks yet, just my tiny footprints disturbing the vast white road. This makes their cover of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” possibly my favorite on this playlist, for nostalgia’s sake.
“Oi To The World”
I’ll never say no to Gwen Stefani, so enjoy another ska tune to really shake up the holidays.
“Nuttin’ for Christmas”
Plain White T’s
Have you ever heard Shirley Temple sing “Nuttin’ for Christmas?” No? Good. Skip it and stick to the Plain White T’s cover. Their version is fun and upbeat, and nowhere near as excruciating to listen to.
“Christmas Every Day”
While I disagree with Simple Plan’s overall message, because Christmas every day would be nauseating, this is still a fun addition to any holiday party playlist.