From a jingle bells-tastic refix of Darude to a growling D&B take on 'Deck The Halls', here's our selection of unlikely festive faves
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, garage, gabber, dubstep, jungle, trance, techno, breaks, electro and every other scene in-between, some wiseguys were knocking up seasonal specials for our festive pleasure.
Whether you want to brock around the Christmas tree or hear the Drummer Boy get wicked, search the internet long enough and you’re guaranteed to find your preferred Xmas-rated dance tipple. From jungle remixes of Wham's Last Christmas to electro covers of Crosby's White Christmas, there are thousands of electronic festive tunes out there. Some nutter's even plonked a Black Machine remix on this year's John Lewis advert.
Largely unofficial, frequently terrible, always fun... we've delved deep into Santa's search engines for the finest, funkiest, silliest and scariest dance music Christmas tunes and pulled out some serious crackers. Who knew there was a Christmas remix of Darude? This is our gift to you…
10. DJ Spen - Our First Christmas (King Street)
Baltimore Muthafunka Spen eases us into the spirit with a gospel cockle-warmer. It's soulful, it's funky, it utilises the The Night Before Christmas poem in possibly the best way ever and it's one of only two original Christmas songs in this list. It's also just one of 10 festive grooves to be found on Christmas In The House, a one-off seasonal soulful house album released by foundational NY label King Street Sounds in 2007.
9. Charles Brown – Merry Christmas Baby (MNO Remix) (Six Degrees)
Taken from another unusual festive LP four years before (Christmas Remixed, on San Francisco's Six Degrees), MNO's glock-rocking cover of Charles Brown's quintessential Christmas blues tune does what all good covers should do: flip the original into a whole new context. Smooth, woozy West Coast vibes. Just listen to those 'whoos' - he's not lying when he says he's lit up.
8. King Kooba - O Christmas Tree (Om Records)
2003: what a time to be alive, as Om Records and Six Degrees appeared to be trying to out-do each other in the world's vibiest downtempo Christmas album tournament. Short-lived chill merchants King Kooba provide the highlight of Om's Home For Holidays album with this beautiful brushed-drum deep house lick of Vince Guaraldi Trio's O Tannenbaum.
7. Jingle Bells (Steviie Wonder & Keanu Trap Remix)
On the 808th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... a fat trap remix of pretty much every Christmas song in existence. Seriously, there are more festive trap remixes than any other genre (even D&B) This one wins, though, thanks to the playful (read: ridiculous) vocal manipulation on the drop and the theatrically (read: stupidly) thugged-out feel to the beats. Five out of five gold rings.
6. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Curdabur Dubstep Remix)
Dubstep isn't shy of a festive fire-up, either. And while most festive renditions are just brostep wrapped in bows and bells, this one is a little different. Allowing the animation and swinging drama of the original track to take the lead, the real action kicks in around the 0:50 mark as the horns build up and we launch into a trilling eight-bit synth riff and some classic ravey FX on the visuals. You're not going to catch this at the next System night, but compared to some of the sawtooth sleighbell crimes you can find online, this is really good festive dubstep.
5. Darude – Sandstorm (Hannah Verse Remix)
It's been covered by brass bands, metal bands, orchestras, flautists and has even been reconstructed on Minecraft's Note Blocks. It's the meme that will never die... so there was always going to be a Christmas version of Darude's Sandstorm. It just took a combination of words that most people are unlikely to type into a search engine - 'Darude + Christmas' - to unlock its genius skills. Criminally under-listened at time of writing, do the right thing this Christmas and share this far and wide.
4. Pantmawr Pub – Merry Christmas (Dan Marshall Mash Up)
Served up at the peak of his rise in 2009, Welsh hopeful Dan Marshall gave us this remarkable cut that manages to lace together the best parts of Dean Martin and Brenda Lee's Christmas classics and whip-up a Die-style rolling bass groove. There are hundreds of D&B tinsel tracks out there, but this is arguably the best (closely followed by Levela’s preposterous Fairytale Of London)
3. Artist Unknown – Thugged Out Elves
Merry dissmas? Or rather merry take-the-pissmass? Ignore the artist name on the video - it's not Spor. First sightings of this clownish Deck The Halls cover go back as far as 2003, a year before Spor's first release. In fact, no one has claimed ownership of this and probably no one never will. Riffing mischievously on Dillinja's Ali G-endorsed Twist 'Em Out at every given opportunity, some say it's a diss, others reckon Dillinja did it himself for a bit of a LOL. Either way, it's an absolute hoot.
2. J-Nilz & Gazoline – A Christmas Techno Carol
We conclude our Top 10 with two of the strangest Christmas tracks out there. First, meet J-Nilz & Gazoline. They're from the galaxy NGC 7742, apparently. Like a badly wrapped present, there are several layers of WTF to unravel here... the radioactive suits, the John Barnes-level rap and the incredible scenes around two minutes in where a bewildered Nilz meets Santa and they share a special epiphany. If this doesn't restore your faith in humanity you are dead inside.
1. Music Maestro Please - Jingle Bells (Christmas Hardcore Santa)
This is, quite possibly, the most f**ked up electronic Christmas tune out there. The track itself is a hilarious mess of hardstyle, breaks, drone, IDM, hardcore and everything in-between, but it's the visuals that complement the sonic warps and wrangled tempos that really make this. With twisting festive scenes and a dancing girl (who appears to be YouTuber and track creator Music Maestro Please) with woozy randomness, it's off-kilter, bizarre but strangely familiar. Remember that Christmas Eve when you went raving and had way too much of a lovely time, then had to deal with parents on Christmas Day? That.
Words: Dave Jenkins Pic: Tessa Beeching