I know there are some humbugs out there who don’t like the holiday season, and that’s fine. Cheer and snacks and the spirit of giving (OK, and stress and consumerism) aren’t for everyone, right? But when people tell me that they don’t like holiday music, I have a tough time believing it. Just about all of the musicians you can think of have recorded holiday music at some point during their careers, and a lot of it is really awesome. So open up your minds, scrooges! I’ve polled folks around the office and compiled a collection of some awesome holiday tunes, perfect for gift wrapping, wasting time at your desk, or dancing around the tree/menorah.
Jaymee Jacoby: “Last Christmas” by Wham!
Even though I’m kind of Scrooge-y about Christmas, I LOVE “Last Christmas” by Wham…mostly just cause I’m a sucker for ’80s easy-listening rock. Plus, the video is a gold mine of winter/ski wear and holiday paraphernalia, a romp in the snow, fire-lit gift-giving, and many, many furtive glances.
Julie Falk: “Zat You, Santa Claus? (Remix)” by Louis Armstrong
Joanna Papaleo: “Rusty Chevrolet” by Da Yoopers
Da Yoopers are a band native to my hometown, Marquette, MI, and are a staple in everyone’s childhood in that region. The humor is really only understood by the people of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; most of their songs involve deer camp, drinking beer and farting. But nonetheless, I can’t help but feel nostalgic each time I hear one of their songs, especially in winter, when I’m used to having snow up to my neck.
Brian Frank: “Jesus Christ” by Alex Chilton
Kristin Rogers Brown: “The Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby & David Bowie
Seriously, what kind of David Bowie fan would I be if I did not include this? Plus the intro part makes it look like they might launch into a Carol Burnett skit. I totally want them to kiss, and Bowie looks like a strange and beautiful space-bird (even though he’s looking all respectable in his suit and cross necklace).
Jillian Rhodes: “Dreidel” by Erran Baron Cohen
This is a new favorite of mine this year. Catchy, danceable, and a nice departure from the season’s usual soundtrack.
Kjerstin Johnson: “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” by Neko Case
Here’s Neko Case covering Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis.” Waits’ words, Case’s voice, and the organ accompaniment are a lethal combination for waterworks. Watch the more gravelly, light-hearted Tom Waits version with a “Silent Night” intro here.
Emily McNulty Scripter: “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses
I love this song because it transports me back to Christmas in high school—stirrup pants, Aquanet hairspray, purple sparkly Wet & Wild eyeliner, and black leather flats. I still thought that “Don’t They Know It’s Christmas” was a great song back then, but hated the bright red shaker knit sweaters everyone else received for Christmas.
Lindsay Baltus: “The Little Drummer Boy” by Pink Martini
I love “Little Drummer Boy.” It’s kind of a strange one for me to love, because I’m not particularly religious, and I’m definitely not Christian, and this is a Christmas song aaaaall about Jesus. No joke, I was listening to the cheesiest version of it on the radio a little while ago and I actually teared up. It must be because I have a soft spot for children, and that little drummer boy just wants to do the right thing! He just wants the baby Jesus to like him! I might cry just thinking about it.
Kelsey Wallace: “Holiday Road” by the Walkmen
As noted above, I love holiday music. As noted previously on the blog, I love covers. I also love National Lampoon’s Vacation (where the original version of this song appeared) and the Walkmen, making me a perfect audience member for this track. I never thought about it being holiday-themed before, since Vacation takes place during the summer, but with all of the driving we all have to do this time of year, it’s a great fit. Sing along!
Kelsey Wallace: “Santa Claus is Back in Town” by Elvis Presley
OK, I’m listing two songs here (an option I didn’t give anyone else—sorry!) because while I love that Walkmen cover and I wanted to seem cool by naming an “indie” band or whatever, my real favorite Christmas song is this one. Nobody does Christmas quite like Elvis.