Christmas, Christmas time is here! Time for joy and time for cheer! “We” as a collective have not been very good this year as there is a lot of turmoil and uncertainty clouding over 2016 but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to put our best face forward and try to enjoy the holiday season and do our best to welcome 2017 with open arms (and with our baseball bat named Hot Sauce very close by in case the new year tries to F with us like this year did).
I don’t have a lot going on this year in terms of holiday celebrations but there are a couple. I have had a pretty crappy year and part of me does not want to celebrate the festive season, yet the other part of me is trying to get myself in the mindset and spirit. Shopping was a breeze this year as I cut out a lot of gifts due to practicality (I mean seriously, in this day and age what can we get our friends and what can they get you that we haven’t already gotten for ourselves? Cut the stress out.) and people no longer being part of my inner circle.
One of the first things I did at the start of December was to add my Christmas Playlist to my iPod in an attempt to start feeling festive and excited for the holidays. I think we can all agree that music is an important part of our lives and if you don’t then you must be a soulless robot.
There are a lot of what some might call “traditionalists” out there, (I’d call them something less nice…) who aren’t open to any music that is from later than 1985 or so obscure that only 2.5 people have heard of it. The same can be said for Christmas tunes. Some people automatically get turned off by the thoughts of Flo Rida doing a rendition of “Silent Night” (such a rendition does not exist to my knowledge) and don’t want contemporary artists singing “classic” Christmas songs.
Look, I don’t care if the missus who played Catwoman in the 1960’s Batman television show sang “Santa Baby” first, frankly Madonna’s version brings a new, materialistic and sexier take which is more fun. Mind you, like what you like but to me, it is exciting when the artists I like and play all the time also have Christmas songs.
With that in mind, I compiled a list of some classic, not so classic and maybe even fairly new Christmas tunes that you can play at any upcoming holiday get together. A few of these songs are by some of my favorite artists and actually stay on my iPod all year round. Please also keep in mind that I narrowed this list down to just ten songs because I initially chose twenty-five and thought this article would get long. I also stressed myself out narrowing down the list so for the record these may not be my top ten favorite Christmas songs, just ten good ones…
U2- “I Believe In Father Christmas”
Choosing which of U2’s two Christmas songs to talk about in this article was like a literal Sophie’s Choice for me. I love “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” but decided there are a few other sad broken hearted Christmas songs on this list (But this one SOUNDS happy). Anyway, “I Believe In Father Christmas” is a cover of Greg Lake’s 1975 song about family warmth and love. U2’s version came from a collaboration between Product (RED) and Starbucks. There is something hopeful and calming about this version as Bono sings over Edge’s signature shimmering guitar. There is something about this song that instantly makes me think of a cold but calm winter’s night.
If you are adding this song to your holiday party playlist, it’s perfect for the start of the evening as guests are arriving and everyone is excited to see each other.
Rev Run & The Christmas All Stars- Santa Baby (feat. Mase, Puff Daddy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt N’ Pepa, Onyx & Keith Murray)
I love rap and it was hard to narrow down which rap song to put on this list. (Sorry Kanye, I still love you but this song is better than “Christmas In Harlem”, which is still very good). I mean come on, you have Snoop Dogg rapping about cookies and milk and being wrapped in a quilt! It also samples “Santa Baby” and features other popular rappers of the time.
This song is a great addition to any playlist because it can get the party going. It’s fun to dance to, yet still Christmassy and you can also stand around and listen to hardcore gangster rappers rhyme about Christmas themed things.
Lady Gaga- Christmas Tree (feat. Space Cowboy)
This comes from the era of when Lady Gaga was new and weird; before she got into social justice and empowerment, before she got super weird and artsy and before she became folky. If you like Mother Monster’s poppy synthy early work and also like suggestive lyrics about being underneath a Christmas tree. Also, who is Space Cowboy?
This is perfect for that part of the night where you have had a few festive beverages and are wearing a lampshade on your head and falling into the Christmas tree.
Great Big Sea- Seven Joys Of Mary
I’m not a lover of traditional Newfoundland music but I always enjoyed Great Big Sea growing up. I think this comes in part from only having two channels growing up, watching Snook’s Friday night television show on CBC with my family. We all enjoyed Great Big Sea and this Christmas song has always been a Smith family favorite.
This song deserves a spot on the playlist because even if I’m not a lover of traditional Newfoundland music I do love a good kitchen party since good things always come out of the kitchen.
Spice Girls- Christmas Wrapping
This is another example of a cover being much better than the original. I didn’t even know this was a cover until long after the 90’s when I heard the original by The Waitresses on a holiday playlist. What a bore. I’m also partial to The Spice Girls simply because I grew up in that era. Remember that gum with the stickers???
This song perfectly sums up everyone’s busy lives and needing to stop and take a break and assess what is really important. It’s hard to get together with people especially during the holidays. On the flip side if you are feeling antisocial after this year “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas; but I think I’ll miss this one this year” is the perfect quote for you.
Jimmy Eat World- Last Christmas
Keeping with the “covers better than the original” theme is Jimmy Eat World’s “Last Christmas”. I’m partial to this version because it comes from The O.C. and what good 2000’s era teenager did not love this show?
Admittedly the theme of this song is not perfect for a party but for some reason, it has become a holiday classic. It is great for anyone who is feeling quite jaded about life and the holidays and I’m sure there are a lot of us out there.
The Killers- Don’t Shoot Me Santa (feat. Ryan Pardey)
I mentioned earlier that it was tough to decide which U2 Christmas song to include on this list, but it was way tougher to decide on which song by The Killers. For the past ten years, The Killers have released a Christmas song with the proceeds going to Product (RED). I’ve come to look forward to these releases every year. (Sadly they sort of took the lazy way out on this year’s tune but they released a compilation album with all proceeds going to (RED)). “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” has to be my favorite Killers Christmas song. It’s fun and not at all what you think a Christmas song would be about (but it’s exactly as the title suggests).
This is a great song for any holiday party playlist. Think of it is the ugly sweater of Christmas songs; super cheesy, yet people have come to love it.
Elvis Presley- Blue Christmas
An oldie but a goodie and another super depressing song masquerading as a fun Hawaiian island themed ditty. Christmas can be pretty crappy when you are feeling down but it helps to have songs like this. I’m actually kind of a fan of Elvis and have come to really love this song; again because of The O.C. (I feel like I need to watch that Chrismukkah episode at some point over the holidays).
Again, not the most upbeat themed song for a holiday party playlist but the music makes up for it and is fun to sing along with.
Britney Spears- My Only Wish
I’m going to make a very controversial statement here. Everyone goes on about Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” but I think “My Only Wish” might be more of a seminal Christmas classic to me. If “Christmas Tree” is a throwback to the original version of Lady Gaga, “My Only Wish” harkens back to a simpler Britney. Also, what does it say about me that I love Christmas songs that are super sad but sound happy?
This is perfect for the playlist because it goes hand in hand with all those other similar themed songs I have mentioned.
Band Aid- Do They Know It’s Christmas?
I’ll finish off this playlist with what might be my favorite Christmas song. I love when people get together for a good cause for those in need and that’s exactly what Band Aid did and they have done it a few more times throughout the last thirty years. In fact, for a few years, my friends and I would get together and drunkenly cover this song at my annual Christmas get together and we raised a bit of money for people in Africa and also local food banks.
This song is perfect for your Christmas playlist because seriously, what’s more fun than organizing a drunken singalong to a piece of 80’s pop culture?
So there you have it. Ten tracks to add to any Holiday party playlist. Hopefully some of these you haven’t heard and are excited to check out while others are also favorites for you at this time of year. I’d also like to thank Gina for letting me write for Tint Of Ink this year, I really have enjoyed sharing my perspective. I’d also like to thank everyone who read any of my articles (which might just be my Mom and my friend Courtney’s mom…but still!) Merry Christmas to you all!