The Five Best Christmas Songs You've Never Heard

sufjan christmas560.jpg
Sufjan Stevens
If there's two things you'll find no shortage of every holiday season, it's Christmas music and complaints about Christmas music. Whether overheard on the radio while the family cooks Christmas dinner in the kitchen, or providing the soundtrack to some frantic last-minute mall madness, the seasonal standards tend to bring out the best and worst in us every December.This year, instead of subjecting you to the same looped Mariah Carey/Wings/public domain "O Tannenbaum" playlist, we've assembled some of our favorite lesser-known Yuletide jams. These unheralded angels are sure to delight and get your sugarplum fairies dancing. Here are the five best Christmas songs you've never heard.

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"Santa Claus is a Black Man," 1973
Almost two decades before he won a Grammy for co-writing "Power of Love/Love Power" for Luther Vandross, Brooklyn songwriter Teddy Vann penned an incredible Christmas song for his daughter Akim. "Santa Claus is a Black Man," a genuinely sweet song from a child's perspective about the magic of Santa, was a hit on black radio and has become something of a cherished cult classic for vinyl collectors and Christmas music aficionados. While it did attract some mainstream press when Vann sued filmmaker John Waters for including the song on his Christmas compilation, the song's highest profile moment was likely a shout-out from Keith Murray on A Very Special Christmas 3's reworking of "Santa Baby"

Mojo Nixon
"Trim Yo Tree," 1992
When compiling a list of the all-time greatest Christmas albums, most include the classics from Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby. Often just barely missing the cut-off is cow-punk/"psycho-billy" music pioneer Mojo Nixon's Horny Holidays. Perhaps the most authentic intoxicated sing-along holiday album (the band admits to not knowing the words to "Good King Wenceslas" so they just drunkenly grunt along with the melody) it opens with singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, followed by an inspired cover of Jimmy Butler's "Trim Yo Tree." An incredibly fun and downright impressive collection of Christmas double entendres, it's as cool as Yule gets.

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