I enjoy Christmas music for about three minutes each holiday season. This year it happened as I drove home on Thanksgiving night and a classic version of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” came on the radio. I thought, My, this is actually a very lovely song. Then Alvin & the Chipmunks or Mariah Carey doing “Santa Baby” probably came on, and I promptly switched the dial back to gangsta rap.
I’ve hypothesized that Christmas music has the potential to get so unbearable ( in only a couple of months time!) because a new song gets written maybe every 5 years. The genre is one big cover band, and every pop superstar is invited.
So, I’ve compiled a playlist for myself and those who have never thought, Damn, the only way “Frosty the Snowman” could get better is if Taylor Swift sang it.
I chose these songs for their vague relation to Christmas or winter, or for their exemplary use of jingle bells.
“Everything is One Big Christmas Tree”- The Magnetic Fields An obvious choice.
“Winter on Victoria Street”- The Clientele All Clientele songs sound wintery to me, but this one has a title that validates that. Perfect for when you’re walking down sidewalks wearing a warm coat and the sun is actually shining. These concurrent vocal lines are going on in your headphones and you’re thinking, “WTF is Seasonal Affective Disorder?”
“A Little Story”- Daniel Johnston Johnston explains Christianity in 3 minutes and 21 seconds. Reminds us all that “Jesus came to set us free/cuz his dad had a great idea about the way things ought to be.”
“A Higher Power”- Jenz Lekman A song with exultant strings that’s mainly about making out and other romantic things (“At the Christmas party I’d hold your hair when you vomit.”)
“Knee Deep at the National Pop League”- Camera Obscura It’s like if a tragic romance was a sleigh ride, but that sleigh ride is actually just a song on a playlist.
“I’m Not in Love”- Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith Can this band just go back and redo the 80s better? This cover was an odd idea, but after a couple listens, it’s so right. No one grates you with coolness like Crystal Castles, and no one can sound as sad as Smith singing “It’s cold outside…when you coming home?/’Cause it’s hot inside…isn’t that enough?”
Give it a listen: http://snd.sc/eoWFjY
“Joy! Joy! Joy!”- Sufjan Stevens He has released a great deal of Christmas songs, but this wierd declaration of peace and joy works just as well. It’s fun and electro-bumping, with cacophonous bells and a distorted speaking interlude. It’s funny how similar this 7-year-old song is to the supposedly new and shocking direction he took with “The Age of Adz” (which I’m totally on board with, for the record).
“Everything Will Be Alright”- The Killers This song is actually quite nice. Jingle bells are slow and plentiful, plus it’s forever tied to a memory of me and my friend Alecia hot tubbing on a snowy Colorado night with, like, 4 cute boys from Nebraska. Anyway, um… make this part of your family’s tradition!
“This Will Be Our Year”- The Zombies End with a sweet New Year’s song, of course.