Most goth-inclined families and individuals can usually satisfy their holiday music needs through the soundtrack work of former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman on such Tim Burton films as Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
“What’s This?” from The Nightmare Before Christmas
“Ice Dance” from Edward Scissorhands
“Walkin in a Winter Wonderland” aka Max Shreck’s Christmas Speech from Batman Returns
These are certainly Christmas films of the gothic variety, with the early harmonious early 90s archetypal children’s choir evoking the crystalline beauty of snowfall, also used in popular films such as Home Alone and Harry Potter.
Besides listening to Jack Skellington and co. serenade us about kidnapping Santa Claus on repeat, there are plenty of other less-obvious options available from the post-punk cannon that can easily liven up a dead Christmas playlist.
This outtake from Saint Nick’s 1997 10th studio LP The Boatman’s Call will get you in the Christmas feels, guaranteed.
Robert Smith and his band The Cure are noted for their love of Christmas and use the holiday as a metaphor in songs like “Other Voices,” “Hey You!,” “Last Dance,” and “The Snakepit,” but only one studio recording directly refers to celebrating the holiday in such a festive manner enough to be called a Christmas song – 1982’s “Let’s Go To Bed”.
Despite this, The Cure actually did celebrate the holiday at Wembley Arena 1987, singing “Merry Christmas Everybody.”
Okay, okay, “Last Dance” is a Christmas song, but definitely not one to listen to while spreading holiday cheer.
Siouxsie and The Banshees
When Robert Smith was a Banshee, this b-side to “Melt!” was recorded, with the accompanying French Television performance where Robert and Budgie’s eyes say it all.
…But did you know that the earlier single “Israel” is a Christmas song? This may surprise some given Siouxsie’s rumored Jewish background and iconic use of the Star of David on a t-shirt, but it is there in the lyrics:
“Shattered fragments of the past
Meet in veins on the stained glass
Like the lifeline in your palm
Red and green reflects the scene
Of a long forgotten dream
There were princes and there were kings”
“In Israel, will they sing Happy Noel
In Israel, in Israel
Israel, in Israel
In Israel, will they sing Happy Noel”
Back in 1982, New Order decided to give the patrons of their club The Hacienda a gift bag with a special Flexi Single (limited edition of 4000), just in time for Christmas.
Included were the band’s take on the classical pieces “Rocking Carol” (aka “We Will Rock You“) and Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy,” utilizing lo-fi drum machines, sequencers and, overzealous use of the vocoder.
The two songs were originally recorded for a TV piece to be used by Factory boss Tony Wilson on his new Granada Reports TV programme, but went unaired, and unused until they were given away as a holiday gift.
Alien Sex Fiend
Saint Nik is not singing about Thanksgiving turkey here!
Stuff the Turkey
The Damned issued this 1980 tongue-in-cheek Christmas single around the time they released their Black Album.
There Ain’t No Sanity Clause
In 1993, Cocteau Twins released the Snow EP, featuring the best versions of “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty The Snowman” ever recorded.
Frosty The Snowman
Dream pop favorites Cranes have released two delicate Christmas tracks, one of which is an original composition. The other is a stunning take on the John Lennon/Yoko Ono classic.
Happy Christmas (War Is Over)
The Christmas Angel
The late Caroline Crawley’s vocals are hauntingly beautiful on this sad Christmas song.
The Legendary Pink Dots
You know what? Not sure if this track is Christmas and/or snowman related, but we don’t care, Edward Ka-Spel can do no wrong.
German post-punk heroes Xmal Deutschland’s instrumental track “Xmas in Australia” is an enigmatic track featured on the band’s 1984 album Tocsin.
Usher’s French Cold-Wave band Norma Loy recorded a bleak Christmas song, not for the faint of heart.
Sad Lovers and Giants
Sad Lovers and Giants ended their first run with 1991’s Treehouse Poetry, which features this driving, yet atmospheric track:
Detroit’s Shock Therapy does Christmas:
New Wave singer Cristina’s “Things Fall Apart” was listed as one of The Cure’s Robert Smith’s favorite tracks of the 80s. Depicting a disenfranchised punk’s take on Christmas cheer, it’s one of the bleakest, yet most satisfying takedowns of the holiday. Come for the catchy hooks, stay for the clever lyrics.
Absolute Body Control
Dirk Ivens‘ original minimal synth/ebm project Absolute Body Control issued this driving instrumental track in 1988.
London After Midnight
Los Angeles’ gothic rock darlings London After Midnight have their own Christmas ballad, a cover of “Sally’s Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Type O Negative
When the late Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele was not having his mother greet gift-wrapped Christmas groupies at his door, he was penning such gothic rock holiday classics as “Red Water (Christmas Mourning).“
“It’s Always Christmas Time” is a track featured on the Alien Christmas EP by Al Jourgensen. the song sounds like nothing else he has ever done, resembling more of a song by A Flock of Seagulls or The Cure than anything by latter-day Ministry, probably due to this being a collaboration with guitarist Mark Thwaite, who is known for his work with The Mission, and Peter Murphy.
Industrial and Neofolk Christmas Songs
For some people, Christmas would not be Christmas without Coil, Current 93, and Rose McDowall.
HÖH and Current 93 | Crowleymass
Coil | Christmas Is Now Drawing Near
Sorrow | The Little Drummer Boy
Rosa Mundi | The Snow Man
Goth Christmas music from your drunken uncle
Starting with the now-classic Porn Orchard parody of what a Christmas song would sound like sung by Tom Waits and Peter Murphy, we present to you a few Christmas songs to listen to with copious amounts of whiskey and eggnog.
The overplayed new wave Christmas song
A great goth/ethereal holiday compilation from Projekt Records
Excelsis ~ A Dark Noel features holiday tracks by This Ascension, Lycia, Faith and The Muse, Eya O, and more! The original compilation was released in 1995, with two additional volumes following, each showcasing artists from the Projekt Records roster. The first compilation has just been re-released on vinyl, CD, and digital formats.
Last, but certainly not least, here is a cover of Wham’s “Last Christmas” by Death In Rome. Be warned, this will certainly send you to Whamhalla!
You can enjoy many of these tracks on our Spotify playlist below. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!