15 Underrated Christmas Soundtracks from Movies & TV that Are Truly Unique
When you’re completely fed up with hearing the same tired Christmas tunes, it’s probably time you check out some of our underrated Christmas soundtrack favourites. We won’t be covering the usual holiday suspects (like ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Love Actually,’ yawn).
Instead, we’ll give you some unique holiday listening options that range from punk to classical choir to country. Take a look at our choices of alternative Christmas soundtracks and see what you think.
15.) Christmas with ‘Nashville’ (2014)
Who would have thought that a soapy drama focused on country & western singers struggling in Nashville, TN could come up with such great soundtracks? The cast of ‘Nashville’ has been lauded for their stellar singing, and this Christmas TV soundtrack is one of the best.
Our choice: ‘River’ performed by Sam Palladio. His husky voice is perfect for covering this Joni Mitchell song, and the countrified version adds an extra layer of longing.
Check out all of the songs from every episode of the Nashville soundtrack here.
14.) The Holiday (2006)
Considering the cast of this Christmas rom-com, it should have been a huge hit. Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Iris (Kate Winslet) are two women fed up with romance. They decide to trade spaces for the holidays; Amanda goes to Surrey and Iris goes to Los Angeles. It’s predictable and by-the-books, but the acting and the love interests played by Jude Law and Jack Black, respectively, make it watchable. The soundtrack, though, is fun and fab.
Our choice: The pivotal scene of Iris and Amanda heading back to their ‘holiday homes’ to ‘Winter Wonderland’ by Darlene Love will put a silly smile on your face. Unless you’re completely heartless.
Listen to ‘The Holiday’ soundtrack.
13.) Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Imagine a small time crook named Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.) gets mistaken for a method actor; he winds up working with ‘Gay Perry’ (Val Kilmer) a private investigator; and they actually witness a real-live murder. Nothing like a good whodunit at Christmastime.
Our choice: The scene where Harry’s hiding under the bed and witnesses the death of the ‘pink-haired girl’ becomes haunting with Sheryl Crow’s cover of the Elvis classic ‘Blue Christmas.’
Listen to all sings from the ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Soundtrack.
12.) The Family Stone (2005)
Bringing a girlfriend home to meet the family – at Christmas, no less – is usually a rich foil for comedy. Or romance. Or dysfunction. Meredith, the uptight and severe girlfriend played by Sarah Jessica Parker, goes home to her liberal boyfriend’s home. Enter: lots of uncomfy moments with a few laughs and few surprises, beyond the underrated Christmas soundtrack.
Our choice: While it’s another chock-filled with good Christmas songs, we liked the scene with Judy Garland singing ‘(Have Yourself) A Merry Little Christmas’ on the TV. Classy nostalgia.
Listen to the full The Family Stone Soundtrack here.
11.) Krampus (2015)
A solid film for horror Christmas movie fans, the story of Santa’s evil helper had some nice effects. The storyline and a crowded cast didn’t help much, but you can’t tell us those gingerbread men weren’t highly entertaining. The skinny: a boy is angry with everyone in his family losing sight of what Christmas means. He decides he hates it and wishes everyone away. They go away, with a little help from Krampus.
Our choice: Perhaps the best song ever for Christmas horror films, ‘Karol of the Bells’ from Douglas Pipes is the end-credit closing song. It’s just… super creepy.
Want to hear the whole Krampus Soundtrack?.
10.) Christmas at ‘Downton Abbey’ (2014)
The period series, following the trials and tribulations of the Crawley family – and their servants – has been wildly popular with quite a diverse audience. Despite the fact it ended in 2015 with Season 6, the historical drama continues to find fans. Its traditional Christmas TV soundtrack is just what you’d expect.
9.) Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
The remake of the 1947 Christmas classic was either a love-it or hate-it when it came out. Directed by John Hughes and starring the priceless Richard Attenborough as Santa, it’s actually pretty good. An unbelieving little girl and her mother discover the wonders of the Christmas spirit and the magic of Santa Claus.
Our choice: This underrated Christmas soundtrack is filled with upbeat music. We’ve chosen Natalie Cole singing ‘Jingle Bells’ as the best sample of the happy holiday sound.
Listen to the full list of songs here, Miracle on 34th Street soundtrack.
8.) This Christmas (2007)
Not your average syrupy sweet Christmas family story, it focuses on the Whitneys, a middle class African-American family. Each member is dealing with their own personal issues, and with the appearance of the wayward eldest son (Chris Brown), drama ensues. It’s a good film with some outstanding music.
Our choice: You might remember way back when Chris Brown was talented and not so mental? The songs he sings on this R & B Christmas movie soundtrack show him at his finest. Listen to ‘This Christmas’ and tell us we’re wrong.
Check out the full ‘This Christmas’ soundtrack here.
7.) Bad Santa (2003)
You might argue that this isn’t such an underrated Christmas soundtrack, but we’d (politely) disagree. The movie was criticized not only for having Billy Bob Thornton play a thieving, drinking Santa – but the whole black comedy of the thing was called ‘distasteful.’ There are those of us who don’t always need heartwarming holiday films and we kind of liked it a lot.
Our choice: The soundtrack is oddly nostalgic, with a lot of the expected classics and several surprises like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Our favorite song, though, is ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ by Sawyer Brown. It captures the mood of the movie.
For the full ‘Bad Santa’ soundtrack, click here.
6.) Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Perhaps this isn’t specifically a Christmas film, but with two of the main characters (Santa/Nicholas St. North and Jack Frost) being snow-centric, just go with it. The Guardians are a group of protectors that come together to keep children out of harm’s way. They’ve nearly met their match in the evil Pitch Black, who has been sending out nightmares.
Our choice: The 3D animated Christmas film soundtrack was composed by Alexandre Desplat and delivers just what you’d expect. Check out the epic ‘Calling the Guardians,’ performed by the London City Orchestra.
5.) Gremlins (1984)
It’s strange that this classic Christmas film is typically forgotten in the ‘best of’ lists. Who can forget the rules for the Mogwai (water, anyone?) or the cuddly cuteness of Gizmo? However, the very underrated Christmas movie soundtrack for Gremlins includes this iconic scene. Billy’s mother in the kitchen listening to our personal favorite. Right before she kicks some gremlin butt.
Our choice: (link to What Song) ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ performed by Johnny Matthis. Billy’s mother is in the kitchen, listening to this. Right before she kicks some gremlin butt. Watch her in action here:
Gremlins scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1QIbENq66w
4.) Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2011)
The Doctor Who Christmas specials have become a holiday tradition in their own right, though the holiday affection for the series seems to be mostly UK-based. This episode perfectly captures the original spirit (ahem) of a Christmas Carol, only with flying sharks and such. This alternative Christmas soundtrack is perfect for Who and non-Who fans alike.
Our choice: This one was simple, just because of the pristine beauty of Katherine Jenkins singing ‘Abigail’s Song (Silence Is All You Know).’ Just a little heartbreaking, really.
3.) Almost Christmas (2016)
The newest Christmas film in our list, this is another dysfunctional family that is given one simple task: try to get along with each other a.k.a. don’t kill anyone for the 5 days we’re all together. There are a few heartwarming moments and you can’t dismiss any film with Danny Glover.
Our choice: As an R & B/funk Christmas movie soundtrack, John Paesano does a wonderful job of livening up traditional holiday music. For example, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ is bursting with groove.
Keen to hear more from the ‘Almost Christmas’ soundtrack? Click here.
2.) Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
The film received just one star from Roger Ebert and managed a paltry 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but is one of those ‘so bad it’s good bad’ movies. Starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as parents who decide not to do Christmas, until they get a phone call from their daughter who’s coming home. In a mad panic they try to scramble to make Christmas happen.
Our choice: It’s surprisingly difficult to choose; as bad as the film was, the soundtrack is awesome. If you’re looking for an alternative Christmas soundtrack, this rocks. ‘Hey Santa Claus’ by the Chesterfield Kings is just one of many.
1.) The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
This remake of the 1947 classic ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ starred Denzel Washington as Dudley (an angel), Courtney B. Vance as Reverend Henry Biggs and the late, great Whitney Houston as the Reverend’s wife, Julia. The couple are strained by money issues and Julia is feeling ignored. Dudley helps the church and helps Henry realize how much he loves his family. You also get lots of Whitney singing, which is always a plus.
Our choice: Did you have any idea that this gospel Christmas movie soundtrack is the best-selling album of all time-? That should tell you something. The theme song, ‘I Believe in You and Me’ sung by Whitney Houston is breathtaking.
That’s our list of 15 underrated Christmas soundtracks from movies and TV. What about you? Are there any songs from these Christmas soundtracks you like better? Have we missed any of your favorites? We’d love to hear from you so pop us a line in the comments below!