The winter solstice is a time of joy and merriment. It’s a time to visit family, renew old friendships, and commune in a spirit of love, brotherhood, and sisterhood with our fellow homo-sapiens. It’s no wonder, then, that this season has produced some of the most angst-filled music ever heard, and no one knows how to throw down the angst like a geek. The irony is, of course, that rather than being depressing, these songs can actually cheer you up far more than any saccharine gooey sweetness from Amy Grant or Josh Groban. Listening to these songs I’m thinking, “Hey, at least my life’s not as bad as this guys.”
So to help brighten your otherwise tense holidays, I offer these ten little bitter-sweet chocolate nuggets.
1. Chiron Beta Prime — Jonathan Coulton
Jonathan Coulton’s homage to those “let me catch you up on the family” holiday letters ties an unexpected twist when the family in question has bee sequestered to an asteroid by our robot overlords. ”Chiron Beta Prime” was originally written around Christmastime 2004 as a “Christmas song with a futuristic theme” for a friend to send out on a CD as a holiday card. It was officially released in 2006 as part of John’s famous “Thing a Week” collection, which were all “open source” songs allowing Mike Spiff Booth to make this nifty video.
2. Post Apocalypse Christmas — Gruff Rhys
“Post Apocalypse Christmas” is part of former Super Fury Animal front man Gruff Ryhs’ album “Athiest Xmas EP”, out this week.
3. That Was The Worst Christmas Ever — Sufjan Stevens
This is one of the most beautiful and delicate songs on the list. It’s also possibly the most depressing song on the list, about a dysfunctional family Christmas. Released on “Ding! Dong!: Songs for Christmas, Vol. III” recorded December 2003, it’s part of a multi volume epic “Songs for Christmas” series by Sufjan Stevens.
4. Christmas Wrapping — The Waitresses
This song is the story of a young girl who has been chasing a particular man all year long, only to finally give up and decide to spend Christmas alone. My wife refused to listen to this song for years. Any time it would come on, she would insist that I turn it, telling me it me it was too depressing. One time I finally made her listen to it, and its eventual happy ending. It’s now her favorite holiday song.
5. Fairy Tale of New York — The Pogues
Any song the begins with the line “It was Christmas Eve, babe, in the drunk tank…” has my vote for best angsty holiday song ever! The song is a duet between The Pogues Shane McGowen (worst teeth ever) and Kristy McColl, reliving an Irish couples coming to New York to fulfill their dreams, both real and imagined.
6. Father Christmas — The Kinks
The tough kids want to beat Santa up for his presents? Who knew Santa was a geek too? This is not a song to play the kids, in fact every time it would come on, my wife would immeiatly hit the advance button. Of course the song is now my sons favorite Christmas song. The original by the Kinks came out in 1977, and has been covered by Green Day and OK Go.
7. Santa’s Beard — They Might Be Giants
As if I don’t have enough to worry about during the holidays without some fat old guy hitting on my wife and giving her presents under the Mistletoe. This is a TMBG classic that I play every Christmas.
8. Frosty The Snowman — Cocteau Twins
The story of every bodies favorite frozen Golem is made even more magical when sung by Elizabeth Frazier of the Cocteau Twins. How is this an angsty holiday song? Don’t forget the pending doom that Frosty is facing.
9. The Rocky Hora Chanukah Song — The Shlamones
Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahah… gasp… hahahahahahahahahahahah… hahaha. Phew. Sniff. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!
10. Cold, Cold Christmas — Stephen Cobert
Stephan has a big ball of pain during Christmas as he sings the Noel equivalent of The Smith’s song I’ve Come to Wish You an Unhappy Birthday. The song was part of Stephen Colbert’s special “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!”, which premiered in 2008.