Why should we celebrate with stale-as-fruitcake holiday Muzak, when we can rock the halls with festive modern fare that’ll jumpstart our positive vibrations faster than Frosty learned to speak English? Many rock, pop, and R&B stars have recorded holiday music videos that make for even more awesome Chrismukkah viewing than A Very Brady Christmas or RuPaul’s Green Screen Christmas on a constant loop. We’ve compiled our favorites here. Watch ‘em all and have a not-so-silent night.
18. Erran Baron Cohen - “Dreidel”
Most of the videos on this list of Christmas-themed, but Hannukkah gets a hip-hop makeover here, courtesy of Erran Baron Cohen – yes, Sasha Baron Cohen’s little brother. It’s the perfect soundtrack for your eight crazy nights!
17. The Ramones - “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)”
We know the original Ramones, all of whom have sadly left us, are having the best punk-rock Christmas party in the sky right now. (Surviving member Mark Ramone, who replaced original drummer Tommy, appears in this video.) Put on a red leather jacket and some red Converse, and get your Blitzen-krieg bop on to this classic.
16. Destiny’s Child - “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
They split long ago, but DC co-exist in Christmas peace every holiday season in claymation form, thanks to this darling clip. We still feel the comfort and joy every time they snuggle up to the stop-motion Rudolph. It’s almost as cute as the original Rudolph TV special scene when Rudolph and Clarice first fall in love. Spike your egg nog with some lemonade and enjoy.
15. The Superions - “Fruitcake”
Leave it to pop’s biggest nutcake, B-52’s jester Fred Schneider, to come up with the ultimate ode to Xmas inedibles, aka fruitcakes. This bizarre vid — reminiscent of Devo’s classic “That’s Good” video with its queasy closeups of pastry foodstuffs, bad green-screen, lab-coated mad scientists, and shirtless disco dancers — is so awesome, it’s the one “Fruitcake” you won’t want to give away.
14. Matisyahu - “Miracles”
The Orthodox Jewish reggae star makes Hanukkah hip in this surreal, epic clip.
13. *NSYNC - “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”
Before Justin Timberlake was the coolest man on the planet, marrying Jessica Biel and slaying on SNL in that famous holiday skit about an X-rated gift in a box, he was hanging out with the late, great Gary Coleman and rocking what looked like a bad Very Brady perm. This is like peeking at JT’s embarrassing holiday childhood photos.
12. The Flaming Lips - “Christmas at the Zoo”
With the long-delayed cult flick Christmas on Mars, these Oklahoma eccentrics and Miley Cyrus pals made THE weirdest holiday movie EVER, featuring futuristic fetuses, gravity-control pods, and alien superbeings. It’s a Wonderful Life, it sure wasn’t. But if that seems like advanced Lips viewing, this cute and quirky clip starring a manger-ful of festive animals might be a better bet.
11. Wham! - “Last Christmas”
A few years ago, George Michael released a new Christmas tune and video, “December Song,” but it cannot compare to the olden days when he used to celebrate with Andrew Ridgeley and a bunch of actresses hired to play his girlfriends. A classic!
10. Wizzard - “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”
A lost gem from the ’70s glam-rock Brits, there is probably no better incentive to break out the platform elf shoes and bell-bottomed Santa suits than this.
9. The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl - “Fairytale of New York”
It’s the ultimate Scrooge tune, telling the tale of an embittered, down-on-their-luck couple who spend the season fighting in dive bars and sleeping it off in drunk tanks. So why do we feel all warm ‘n’ fuzzy every time we watch this? (R.I.P., Kirsty MacColl, by the way.)
8. Twisted Sister - “O Come All Ye Faithful”
Sadly, Spinal Tap never made an official video for “Christmas With the Devil.” So this will have to do instead!
7. Run-D.M.C. - “Christmas in Hollis”
We still get a hankering for collard greens and presents of fresh new Adidas sneakers under the tree every time we watch this classic bit of Christmas rapping. (R.I.P., Jam Master Jay.)
6. The Killers - “Don’t Shoot Me, Santa”
The Killers release a Christmas video every year, but it’s this one that stands apart, due to its genius recasting of Santa Claus as a great unwashed, red-bearded, trailer-park-dwelling, axe-wielding psychopath. Looks like Brandon Flowers and company were hitting the egg nog pretty hard when they shot this totally twisted video.
5. Hall & Oates - “Jingle Bell Rock”
The best Christmas duo since Bowie and Bing (more on them in a bit), in MTV’s early-’80s infancy Daryl Hall and John Oates made a cheesier-than-a-cheeselog holiday video that still brings a smile to our faces decades later. And what could make it even better? The fact that they shot TWO versions!
4. The Darkness - “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)”
The unitarded rockers out-glammed Wizzard and out-Tapped even Spinal Tap with this bit of brilliance in 2003. If you watch this and don’t crack a smile, clearly you have no soul and deserve a big lump of coal in your Spandex stocking.
3. Band Aid 20 - “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
In 2004, Anglophiles rejoiced when, under the guidance of Bob Geldof, members of Coldplay, Radiohead, Supergrass, the Darkness, Morcheeba, the Thrills, and Travis – alongside Paul McCartney, Bono, Robbie Williams, Joss Stone, and Dido – came together for a remake of Band Aid’s famous charity single (with proceeds going to help Darfur). The results was way better than 2014’s “Band Aid 30” remake.
2. Band Aid - “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Band Aid 20 was great, but of course, nothing can compare to the Band Aid original from 1984. Many of its participants who were considered “all-stars” at the time are mere footnotes now. But the benefit single launched countless other charity efforts, and that’s in the true spirit of Christmas. (Check out our interview with Band Aid producer Midge Ure here.)
1. David Bowie & Bing Crosby - “Little Drummer Boy”
Christmas is a time when people from all walks of life come together in peace, and in no other video is this best demonstrated than this timeless, touching duet from 1977, when cardigan-sweatered crooner Crosby teamed with glitter god Bowie. TV Guide declared this one of the 25 most memorable musical moments of 20th century television, and with good reason. With Bing and now Bowie both gone now, this one bitteesweetly evokes the ghosts of Christmases past.
Check out the rest of our Holiday content here