Since 2006, the Killers have released a Christmas song each year, with the profits going to support the RED campaign. Instead of covering some of the standards, Brandon Flowers and co. have found a way to come up with originals that not only serve as quality purveyors of Christmas cheer, but also stick to the distinctive style that the band is known for.
After this year’s release, I got to thinking about which of the songs I like the best. To make a definitive decision is a nearly impossible task. That’s like asking me to pick my favorite Bulls team of the ’90s, my favorite of the Bourne movies, or my favorite cut of beef. Sure, one may inch its way ahead, but even the ones that are “worst” are still pretty good.
9. ¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!
This is the only one of the Killers Christmas songs that I don’t constantly have on repeat throughout the season. While it’s a fine song in its own right, and occasionally does get stuck in my head, there’s not nearly as much about that screams silent night. Still, if your December dreams have a bit more of a south-of-the-border flair, this is a heck of a lot better than Feliz Navidad.
8. I Feel It In My Bones
If this is your introduction to the Killers’ Christmas music, I recommend you go watch Don’t Shoot Me Santa first. This video/song picks up after Brandon escapes Santa’s grasp. Kringle isn’t all too happy about that, so he sets out to hunt down the Killers to finally do some killing of his own.
I will say that this is probably the best music video of all them. Directed by Roboshobo of Doomsday, it’s got the sort of cinematic quality worthy of a narrative film. I’d watch a full two hour movie made in this style. That’d be a great addition to the Christmas Horror subgenre.
It’s a song I love, but as a Christmas song, it’s missing some of the cheer and sentimentality that’s present in other songs. Even its counterpart, Don’t Shoot Me Santa, seems to capture the holly jolly of the season a tad better.
7. Christmas In LA
When I first heard Christmas in LA, it didn’t do a whole lot for me. Being a moderate fan of Owen Wilson, I liked that he was included in the video, but much like Happy Birthday Guadalupe, it doesn’t have the sound of a traditional Christmas song or of a traditional Killers song. As I’ve listened over the last year though, it’s grown on me quite a bit. It’s got a peaceful sound to it, and it conveys something other than a White Christmas, which as terrifying as it is, is a reality for some.
6. Joseph, Better You Than Me
This is when things start getting really, really good. These six songs all could fall within my top 50 Christmas songs of all time, which is an impressive feat when you consider the mass amounts of Christmas songs I’ve listened to. (That’s a story for another day.) It’s hard to give any song with Elton John, Neil Tennant and Brandon Flowers anything other than a perfect rating, so I want to be clear that this sixth song could have easily been number one or two. Toss up land, folks.
The song breaks away from traditional religious songs that focus on Jesus, Angels or Mary and instead takes a look at Joseph, the dude who had the hardest job ever in the time leading up to the first Christmas. Jim Gaffigan jokes about it, but he makes a valid point. Joseph probably went through a lot of scorn. And he handled it better than any of us could.
Just as is the case with anything involving Elton John and Neil Tennant, anything involving It’s A Wonderful Life instantly has a special place in my heart. Boots starts with a clip from the best part of that movie, which perfectly sets up the heavy and heartfelt song that they released in 2010.
It’s a thoughtful song, actually saying something at a time when most artists are content to just cover the standards. If you want a song that can bring a tear to even the most hardened of eyes, here you go. It’s not a happy song, or a happy video, but it’s still one of the best things you could put on in the days leading up to the 25th.
4. Joel, The Lump Of Coal
The latest addition to the Killers Christmas canon is Joel, The Lump Of Coal. Joel’s just a normal lump, excited to keep Santa and his elves cozy. Then he finds out that he gets to be a present for a kid. First, Joel thinks that this is a good thing, but that’s before he’s told that no one would actually want him as a present.
At this point in time, we’re not going to get another Frosty or Rudolph, but you can bet that if I had kids, I would want to tell them the story of Joel on Christmas eve. It’s got a great message and it’s extra melodic. And, most of all, it shows that nine years into the Christmas game, the Killers have still got it.
Plus, bonus points for Flowers half acting out the scenes as he sings.
3. Don’t Shoot Me Santa
An excellent introduction to the Killers Christmas carols, this is a song appropriate for the name of the band that sings it. One of my favorite subgenres of horror is Christmas horror. This song leeches onto that and runs with a story of a less than jolly Kris Kringle. And he’s out for blood.
This is the first of the three songs that I had at the top of the list in various drafts. One of the coolest, and catchiest, Christmas songs out there.
2. The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball
Between the stuff the Killers have released as a group and Brandon Flowers’ solo work, it clear that Nevada has been a pretty big influence on just about everything for these guys. So, they would have been remiss if they didn’t do a proper western version of a Christmas song. Where this one surpasses Christmas in LA and Happy Birthday Guadalupe is that it’s got a cheery sound that’s only proper for a Holiday hoedown.
The lyrics were taken from a William Lawrence Chittenden poem, written in 1890, though the Killers made a few slight changes to make it work for the Nevada setting. So basically, there’s the lyrics of an awesome old poem, the Killers sound, and an awesome video with dancing robot aliens. This was the version of Cowboys Vs. Aliens that we all wanted to see.
1. A Great Big Sled
It seems a bit lame to say the first was the best. That’s like saying a band hasn’t gotten better since their first album, just because things have gotten a bit different. But with how great A Great Big Sled Is, there’s no way I could pick anything else as the best Christmas song they’ve released.
This is the perfect tune for people who aren’t as into Christmas songs. It’s essentially another Killers song, but with lyrics about Christmas, the innocence of youth, and the horrors of losing that. Those things have been touched on plenty of songs, but there may not be a more enjoyable holiday version of it than A Great Big Sled.