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Published November 25, 2022

Unwrap the Soundtrack in ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’

James Gunn and Kevin Bacon talk bringing the music to life in Hollywood and Knowhere.

guardians of the galaxy

By now, viewers should know that you can’t have an outing with the Guardians of the Galaxy without a stellar soundtrack to go with it, and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is no different. The latest Marvel Studios’ Special presentation dives into the holidays head first as Mantis and Drax go on a mission to get Peter Quill the perfect Christmas present (even if that present is real-life actor Kevin Bacon…) and it’s set to a rockin’ batch of tunes to rock around the galaxy.

For returning Guardians writer and director James Gunn, he set out to write a brand new Christmas song — and not necessarily an easy task considering the surplus of holiday songs already on the airwaves. He enlisted real-life band, The Old 97’s (who Gunn always says is his favorite band) to help him out with this and lend their musical talents to the special. Dressed head to toe in Knowhere garb (and alien prosthetics), The Old 97’s start the special with a musical number asking just what is Christmas?

“The alien band is played by my favorite band in the world, the Old 97's, I've been a big fan of theirs since the 90s” Gunn tells Marvel.com. “When I was writing the first song in there, ‘I Don't Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)’, I needed help. I called up Rhett Miller the lead singer of the Old’s, and we got together and wrote that song. At that point, I'm like, well, I'm actually going to make you guys the band in the show.”

While The Old 97’s kick off the special with this new, original song, it’s one of their other Christmas songs that gets center stage at the end of the special, with Kevin Bacon joining the band to sing “Here It Is Christmas Time.” The legendary actor (and in-world Marvel hero) calls the performance closing out the Holiday Special a “pinch me” moment.

“[James] has got such a great ear for needle drops,” Bacon explains. “I love this song, it's really hard to write a fresh Christmas song at this point. I started playing it, and I really was having a good time playing it and singing it. Then to stand up there with The Old 97’s and they're in makeup and crazy costumes, and to look down at the world and all the Guardians are there, and they're rocking out to this song and so are the rest of that world, community. It was absolutely fun and hilarious, and just a great experience.”

As everyone heads into the holiday season, Gunn is excited about these two new songs and the possibility that they “could play a lot forever” in rotation.

“Being able to add these new songs to the Christmas repertoire is pretty exciting to me.”

Ready to turn up the volume on holiday cheer? Find the full The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special tracklist below!

  • “I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime is Here),” The Old 97’s
  • “Fairytale of New York,” The Pogues The Pogues with Kristy MacColl
  • “Dead by XMas,” Hanoi Rocks
  • “Christmas Treat,” Julian Casablancas
  • “Is This Christmas?,” The Wombats
  • “Just Like Christmas,” LOW
  • “I Want An Alien for Christmas,” Fountains of Wayne
  • “Christmastime,” The Smashing Pumpkins
  • “Christmas Wrapping,” The Waitresses
  • “Mrs. Claus,” Little Jackie
  • “Here It Is Christmas Time,” Kevin Bacon and The Old 97’s

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is now streaming on Disney+. 

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