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Best Christmas Rock Songs

A List of the Top Holiday Rock Tunes


Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Deck the Halls”

red hot chili peppers deck the halls
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers decided to have some fun with their rendition of the classic ditty “Deck the Halls.” Goofing around and singing horribly off key, the band members do their impersonation of a holiday choir, even though they realize they don’t actually know all the words to the song they’re singing.

Eels – “I’m Going to Stop Pretending That I Didn’t Break Your Heart”

eels im going to stop pretending
Photo courtesy Vagrant.
What does this sad, slow ballad have to do with Christmas? Eels’ “I’m Going to Stop Pretending” introduces us to a reflective narrator addressing a former lover who he left behind long ago. Now he wants to make amends, even though it’s been several years since they spoke and he doesn’t even know where she lives. But the aching melancholy cuts even deeper when we realize that it’s Christmas Eve, hinting that maybe the loneliness of the holidays finally made the narrator see the error of his ways.

Dave Matthews Band – “Christmas Song”

dave matthews christmas songs
Photo courtesy RCA.
Not to be confused with the traditional holiday ballad “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting on a opening fire,” etc.), the Dave Matthews Band’s “Christmas Song” is a straightforward account of the life and death of Jesus, encompassing Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. Backed by a soulful acoustic guitar, Matthews sings in a warm, hushed voice that personalizes the Greatest Story Ever Told.

Extreme – “Christmas Time Again”

extreme christmas time again
Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images.
Extreme, led by the pyrotechnics of guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, conquered the charts with the saccharine 1991 ballad “More Than Words.” A year later they wrote one of the sappiest, gushiest Christmas songs of all time. Strident piano, soaring backup vocals, lyrics about wanting the warmth of the Christmas season to last all year – “Christmas Time Again” has all the epic self-importance of a celebrity charity record. But even if the track makes you roll your eyes, its overpowering sentimentality can hit you just right when you’re swept up in the Christmas spirit.

The Killers – “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”

killers don't shoot me santa
Photo: Jo Hale/Getty Images.
A lot of kids dream of meeting Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, but it’s doubtful any of them imagined a scenario as bizarre as what happens in this song. The humorous “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” sets up an encounter between Killers frontman Brandon Flowers and St. Nick in which the singer has to justify his murderous ways. “The children on the block/They tease me,” Flowers sings, by means of explanation for killing his classmates. “I couldn’t let them off that easy.”
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