Christmas Songs Outside the (Gift) Box

Christmas carols are perhaps the most beloved and memorable melodies ever composed.

But let’s be honest – hearing the same traditional carols played everywhere for a month straight gets a little repetitive. Plus, if you’re a musician (or a music teacher) there isn’t much challenge in performing the same thing year after year. 

Want to play something a little different this Christmas season? Check out our list below. Our teachers here at Globalsound Studio have taught these less-traditional Christmas tunes whenever they receive requests for seasonal songs beyond the same old carols. From hard-rocking covers, to classic legends, to fun bubblegum tunes, there’s something for everyone here who’s looking to for music outside the (gift) box. 


“What’s This” (from The Nightmare Before Christmas) by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy’s take on the most memorable song from Tim Burton’s classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas is a rocking tribute to what makes Christmas great (despite lyrics about children throwing heads, of course). Although the film is official classified as a Halloween flick instead of a Christmas one, the jury is still out among fans. Either way, the Nightmare Before Christmas is a definitely holiday classic and our students have loved learning this song

“Santa Tell Me” by Ariana Grande 

This bit of catchy bubblegum pop has sure been a hit with our students since its release in 2014. Ariana Grande’s R&B styled vocals recall Mariah Carey’s classic tune “All I Want for Christmas is You”, with a more modern production. 

“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1971 single has evolved beyond its origins as a counter-culture protest to become a modern Christmas standard. Covered by everyone from Neil Diamond to Sarah McLachlan to Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson, “Happy Xmas” has been frequently named as a Christmas favorite by musicians and listeners alike.

“River” by Joni Mitchell

This classic tune about heartbreak might be a little less than jolly but its beautiful melody has endured the test of time. Appearing on Joni Mitchell’s classic album Blue, this song about having the Christmas blues also features a version of “Jingle Bells” as an intro.

“Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson

A beautiful, mournful duet by two of the biggest singer-songwriters in music today. Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson’s sweet harmonies are great for musicians looking to perform a duet with piano accompaniment.