Well, if you’re me.
I have a great love for Christmas. I am the looney that turns on the Christmas stations the day after Thanksgiving and plays them 24-7, to the chagrin of roommates and boyfriend alike. I get it from my mother, who is a fanatic too. I offer no apologies for my behavior because I sincerely believe I help spread a lot of cheer amongst friends and family who would otherwise not care about the holiday. BUT sometimes, things happen. Mainly, I get tired of whatever is on the radio. They’ve been playing the same hundred songs for my entire lifetime, and every now and then some pop star gets it in his or her head to re make one of my favorites, (aka all the horrible renditions of WHAM’s classic Last Christmas,) and just spews out the same old.
This year I wanted to do something a little different. I actively sought new Christmas music, preferably without all the Christmas, and preferably something I could play in the presence of my electro-loving boyfriend without him being any the wiser. Also, I have a New Year’s Eve bash coming up and what better way to not spend money on food than to spend money on new tracks… I found a station on iTunes called Rockin’ Holiday. That’s where this list started. The rest are courtesy of my weird and eclectic vibe. So here it is, my holiday playlist this year. Oh, and by the way – ALL of these tracks can be purchased on iTunes. Do the right thing, I know you will.
Julia Mae’s Eclectic Holiday Party Mix
Christmas In Heaven – Monty Python I can’t imagine the looks on your friend’s faces when this starts to play. Actually, I can. Especially if they don’t know Monty Python. But where else can you get this reggae/electro beat/disco/lounge classic? Listen to it, you know you have to. It’s “heavenly”. As soon as the strains “It’s Christmas In heaven/all the children sing…” starts, you’re hooked.
Christmas Treat – Julian Casablancas Bono meets new wave…rock? Hey, that’s what I thought the first time I heard it. “I wish it was Christmas today.” This song represents how I feel about the season: you can be a Grinch all you want, but I’m way too excited about it to care what you have to say! Besides, he’s got a badass album cover.
Christmas TV – Slow Club A Brit duo. An introspective song first released in 2008, I keep wondering how I’ve never heard of this song before. It’s awesome. Long distance love and well-penned lyrics:
“It’s okay to have scars, they will make you who you are.
It’s okay to have fears, as long as you’re not scared of coming here.
And in the middle of the night, call if you want to talk,
‘cus you know, that I want to talk too.”
Love Came Down on Christmas – Jars of Clay This. This song. It will get stuck on your head as you wander around the place. Moody, almost 90s style rock, and, dare I say? reminiscent of some of RHCP’s work in the best possible way. The last moments of the song are my favorite, and probably the part that reminds me the most of RCHP’s Snow/Hey Oh. It’s pretty cool.
HONORABLE MENTION FROM THIS ALBUM: It’s way more Christmas-y, but they do a very haunting & ethereal (my favorite word combo in music) version of GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN. Of course, I had to play favorites on this list, so even though the string arranging almost made me cry, I had to go with a different version for this. Like me, feel free to get both and shuffle your mix.
Marshmallow World (Live) – Frank Sinatra I promised you eclectic, I never said I wouldn’t have classic songs present on this album! However, this one is pretty much unknown to my generation, and if you know me you know I love songs where it sounds like the crew is having as much fun as (or more than) the audience. Pretty sure they’re wasted too, but it’s amazing. Listen.
Frosty the Snowman – Zee Avi This version is way better than the original for those of us who can find cheerful way too cheerful. If you’re sick of the version they play 20 times a day on the holiday radio stations, definitely listen to this one. It’s mostly in a minor key, and being unfamiliar with Zee, I thought it was Fiona Apple with the smooth and eclectic vocals.
HONORABLE MENTION: Fiona Apple’s version of Frosty, if this is too weird for you.
Cool Yule – Louis Armstrong So dig. Santa comes on big. This is a *ahem* swingin’ tune for a holiday bash. Serious.
December – Kay Starr So, the artwork for this song is not matching what is on MY computer, but it’s what came up on iTunes, so whatever version you find of this, I approve of this vintage classic.
Winter Windows – Sea Wolf If I have to pick my favorite from this list, it would probably be this one. Very different, very cool. Driving rock. This LA band’s song is quite cool:
“This is the world, this is the world we’re given/ It’s not the one I choose, but it’s the one we’re given.” I hear you, Alex Brown Church! I can almost overlook the fact they used you in one of the Twilight soundtracks. (almost.)
Happy Holidays (Beef Wellington Remix) – Bing Crosby This being one of my favorite classic holiday songs, can’t help but love new version. AKA Remixes, with the singer I loved to begin with. Also on this album worth a look: CHRISTMAS BELLS (Northern Elektrix Remix) – Patti Page and DANCE OF THE SUGARPLUM FAIRY (Red Baron Remix) – Berlin Symphony Orchestra.
WINTER COAT – DARK DARK DARK The winters here get awful cold. And this sweet little song has some gorgeous harmony. Acoustic strings and more accordian/melodia. Can’t lose. Gotta love those fancy reeds.
Winter – Maus Haus There are some beautiful lines in this, musically and lyrically. It has this sweeping movie trailer quality. Enjoy. What begins as electro-ambient drifts into this strange nuevo 70s bop/rock.
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley I’m assuming you’ve heard this song if you’ve lived in the last thirty years, but… if not, it’s an amazing song. Why on a holiday CD? Years ago, when I was young and impressionable and convinced my parents to buy me every CD I saw, I bought one of those store compilations from Eddie Bauer or something. It was a holiday CD with very un-Christmas songs on it, and yet somehow they perfectly captured the essence of winter. This is one of those tunes. I dare you to listen to this and stare out at the snowy woods and NOT feel something.
Post-Apocalypse Christmas – Gruff Rhys This song is an absolute listen this year. I have never heard it before, and I love it. Electro rock
Angel in the Snow – Elliot Smith Sometimes, I feel like only a cold still life. You can’t have emo-moody acoustic songs without Elliot Smith. Just doesn’t happen. I never would have thought of this song as holiday but now that I hear it with the rest I’m like well, duh! When else would this song happen? It’s surprisingly cheery sounding, like what you expect to hear while building snowmen or snow angels out in the snow…
God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen – Mannheim Steamroller Let me say that I grew up listening to the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Albums on repeat play every year. What makes me sad is that, unless you’re a huge fan, you’ve probably never heard this one. Chip Davis and the crew play a fantastically medieval and fun rendition complete with cannon fire. If you’re feeling brave and not on shuffle, put this track to follow: “GOD REST YE MERRY, GENTLEMEN” (which is the one they always play on the radio.) Trust me when I say the live one sounds a LOT better, especially following this one. It’s inspired many a scene in my medieval fantasy novels!
Auld Lang Syne – Andrew Bird First of all, I heart Andrew Bird. This version of Auld Lang Syne starts with some “plucky” strings. (hard e har har) and then goes into a sort of bluegrass rendition the likes of Pixar might use in a movie. Seriously, tons of fun.
Winter Weather – Benny Goodman I had prided myself on this track, being very old school and rarely played, when low and behold I heard it playing in HOME DEPOT while buying paint tonight. Ah well, the world has just realized how cool I am and is starting to copy me. Sure. Yeah. Listen to this version, it’s great.
Winter’s Carol or Star of Wonder – Tori Amos The only reason I didn’t feature this is because SOMEWHERE on the internet I left a whole review of every track on this album under the name the Antiharpist. Didn’t want to go too nuts redoing a review.
The Nutcracker Suite – Brian Setzer Orchestra
Oogie Boogie’s Song – Tiger Army (Or any Nightmare Before Christmas Revisited song)
The White Season – Still Corners
BUT IF YOU HAD TO LISTEN TO ONE ALBUM THIS SEASON:
I recommend any of the fine songs on this album whole heartedly. BUT #1: Happy Karma Christmas – Sufjan Stevens.
It’s very weird, it covers a lot of different genres but mainly just the strange ones.