Six holiday songs for everyone’s nice (or naughty) playlist
By Mead Gill, Copy & Online Editor
Like it or not, December’s annual Christmas song invasion is at its peak. Unfortunately, a handful of overplayed holiday songs have dominated the radio for the past month, so step aside Mariah― holiday music listeners deserve more variety. Here are six underrated songs to rejuvenate the Christmas spirit.
“If We Make It Through December” – Merle Haggard
Equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, this sweet country ballad is sung from the perspective of a dad trying to give his daughter the best Christmas ever after losing his job. The lyrics are laid over plucky guitar licks and smooth background vocals, perfect for cuddling up on the couch with a hot mug of tea. Though released in 1973, the tune seamlessly fits current times as those unemployed or just sick of 2020 are longingly awaiting this year to be over.
“Fairytale of New York (feat. Kristy MacColl)” – The Pogues
This 1987 Christmas duet tells the tale of an Irish couple on the move to New York City, living out their American dream. As they reflect on their futures, the couple sings over layers of swelling accordions and accented strings, insulting each other back and forth in thick Irish accents. Very broadway-esque, it paints the picture of cobblestone streets jam packed with dancing, drinking, and holiday charisma.
“The Heartache Can Wait” – Brandi Carlile
The winter season is not a happy time for everyone, but nothing wrenches the heartstrings more than “The Heartache Can Wait.” Every minor chord change hits harder than the last, welling the eyes of any listener with a drop of emotional intelligence. The steady jingle bells pair naturally with the emotive cello drones, while each stroke of the bow blends incredibly with Carlile’s deep vocal performance, blanketing the listener in an expressive winter energy.
LISTEN. Brandi Carlile, is an American singer-songwriter, her song “The Heartache Can Wait” is the third suggested song. Copy and Online Editor Mead Gill suggest six holiday songs you may have never heard of.
“What’s This?” – Danny Elfman
With an iconic movie to go along with it, “What’s This?” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a fast-paced Christmas banger filled to the brim with spirit and enthusiasm. The tune begins with an orchestral overture, introducing each melody with bright horns, soothing harps, and booming bass drums. As the tempo fluctuates from fast-paced to a soothing stop, it is near-impossible to not jump off the couch and leap around the room.
“Is This Christmas?” – The Wombats
English indie-rock band The Wombats gifted listeners with a rustic Christmas anthem, singing of the struggles that arise when family meets up for the holidays. With each pre-chorus, the melody’s intensity snowballs as the vocals turn from singing to yelling. Though not a traditional holiday vibe, The Wombats present an energetic feel-good tune that deserves to be aggressively danced to. Try not to thrash your head too hard.
“Santa Stay Home” – U.S. Girls, Rich Morel
Many would not expect a Christmas song to be pumped full of societal issues and environmental awareness, but U.S. Girls’ very own Meg Remy somehow pulls it off. Throughout the song, Remy bashes the holiday season for its commercial consumerism, Christmas tree logging, and more. For some it may feel like a rain on the Christmas parade, but the undeniably catchy chorus feels classy, dancible, and radio-ready.
Hopefully a couple of these songs will be added to everyone’s Spotify queue, and maybe even become a holiday staple for Decembers to come. Happy listening and happy holidays!