I like to have holiday music playing unobtrusively for parties, but we’ve all heard “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” a thousand times by mid-December. I’d prefer fairly neutral “winterish” music as opposed to strictly Christmas.
I’m wondering what ideas people have for non-sucky, non-overdone, holiday music? I know this could be a tall order, but I know the Homies probably have some rocking suggestions. -Meg
I’ve taken to the interwebs to find some of my favorite non-sucky holiday tunes. Some of them are just about winter and therefore not holiday-specific, some of them are Christmas-y as hell. Hey, I even found some Hanukkah songs! And a lot of them are so non-overdone that they’re songs you may not have ever heard before, from artists you’ve even never heard of. And some of them are songs you’ve heard a lot, but from artists that make them sound new again. Grab a cup of cider and have a listen…
- Cold December Night, by Alan Chang
- Christmas, California, by The Sweet Hurt
- Fall In Love With Me On Christmas, by Josh Kelley
- 2600, by Jonathan Coulton and John Roderick (Zomg, a Christmas song about the Atari 2600!? You’re welcome. Actually… ANYTHING from the One Christmas At a Time album.)
- Christmas Treat, by Julian Casablancas
- Christmas Wrapping, by The Waitresses
- Señor Santa, by Y la Bamba — or anything on the Holiday’s Rule album.
- Christmastime, by Smashing Pumpkins
- Put The Lights On The Tree, by Sufjan Stevens
- All My Bells Are Ringing, by Lenka
- Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas), by The Decemberists
- Christmas In The Sand, by Colbie Caillat
- The Holly And The Ivy, by Kate Rusby
- Mele Kalikimaka, by Jimmy Buffet (or ANY version of Mele Kalikimaka — it’s my favorite Christmas song!)
- How Do You Spell Channukkahh?, by The LeeVees
- Hanukkah Blessings, by Barenaked Ladies
- Happy Joyous Hanukkah, by the Indigo Girls
- [When Is] Hanukkah This Year?, by Mêlée
- The Hanukkah Waltz, by Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
- Chanukah in Santa Monica, by Tom Lehrer (though I like The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles’ version better)
Generic holiday tunes
- Skating, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio — hell the WHOLE Charlie Brown Christmas album
- My Favorite Things, by The Supremes
- Winter Journey, by Scott D. Davis
- Purple Snowflakes, by Marvin Gaye
- Winter Song, by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
- A Long December, by the Counting Crows
- Winter Song, by Fleeting Heart
- The Day It Snowed, by Amusement Parks On Fire
- Snowflake, by Jim Reeves
- Winter Without You, by The Breakups and The Sweet Hurt
Okay, music-loving Homies… what are you putting on YOUR holiday mix tape this year?
Comments on Non-sucky, non-overdone, holiday music
My two last year discoveries:
-Loreena McKennitt: Midwinter’s night Dream (New age, celtic)
-Pink Martini: Joy to the word (world music, hipster)
Seconding Loreena McKennitt, though I’ll vote for “To Drive The Cold Winter Away,” which is my favourite album for snowy, dark evenings, hands down. (I’m more into “winter” than “Christmas,” although a couple songs on the album are traditional carols.)
I personally love the Peter Paul and Mary Christmas Album. It’s a live recording of some songs I’ve never heard anywhere else, and some classics.
It’s on amazon here.
Thank you!! Listening right now on Spotify.
For background music in my office, I’ve been using the Pandora “Indie Christmas” station. It has less of the traditional versions (but some) and more of the type of thing you have listed here. Anything winterish seems to be included, which lightens it up nicely. Not as good as a custom playlist, but easy if you just want to hear some different options.
My personal favorite (which is admittedly not the most unobtrusive) Corey Tylor’s “If I ain’t drunk then it ain’t Christmas” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od7GUy9XS7c
Luckily, it has an acoustic version
The “Holidays Rule” album is excellent! Funnily enough, the song you picked is the only one I skip repeatedly. The lyrics are too cutesy for my taste. (“We use a hankie when we blow our noseies” … no thanks.)
I like wintery/”cold” sounding music myself, and Loreena McKennitt and certain tracks from Christopher Tin’s “Calling All Dawns” (in particular “Mado Kara Mieru”) are making the rotation a lot this season. Also, I like a lot of classical right now, especially Vivaldi’s “Winter”. 😀 Maybe that’s too low-key for a party though.
What about Korn doing “Kidnap the Sady Claws”? Or anything from the Nightmore Before Christmas soundtrack.
I literally just asked this on Facebook. Here’s what my friends gave me:
Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas albums
Charlie Brown Christmas album
Snoop Dogg’s Christmas album
Low’s Christmas album
The Original Soul Christmas
James Brown’s Christmas album
Ultra Lounge Christmas Cocktails (1-4)
Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas
F*ck That! Erin McKeown’s Anti-Holiday Album
A Very She & Him Christmas
The Pogues – Fairytale Of New York
Once bitten, twice shy. Wham version only not the new one.
John Lennon – Happy Christmas
Boys II Men Christmas Interpretations (seriously some beautiful acappella)
Amy Grant album Home For Christmas; Harry Connick albums; Springsteen Merry Christmas Baby; Stevie Nicks Silent Night; Bob Seger The Little Drummer Boy; Jewel Face Of Love; Aretha Franklin Joy to the World; Peabo Bryson Born On Christmas Day; and ditto on Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas
Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses
Please Come Home For Christmas by Aaron Neville
Here Comes Santa Claus by Gene Autry
Zat You, Santa Claus by Louis Armstrong &the Commanders
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan
Marshmallow World by Darlene Love
Oh! The Ultra Lounge stuff is so fun… super quirky and often silly but a definite change of pace. That would be fun for a kids party, too. Or a gathering of goofball friends. 🙂
I was just checking the comments to make sure that someone mentioned Fairytale of New York! That’s my ultimate anti-Christmas song.
I was just doing the exact same thing. My dad introduced me to the Pogues and now I make sure I post it to his facebook wall every year. It doesn’t feel like Christmas til I’ve sang along to this tune.
Check out the version that Walk off the Earth did – it’s gorgeous. (They’re the same folks that did the cover of the Gotye song on the single guitar) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gzJFwB0JzE
Oooh, I LOVE Madeleine Peyroux for my zexy, underhanded dinner music. Pretty much any of hers but her album Half The Perfect World does the trick for me.
I LOVE December by George Winston
Non-denominational, great background music. I listen to it CONSTANTLY all year!
I love the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, The Polar Express soundtrack and Josh Groban’s Christmas CD Noel.
I really enjoy the classic Christmas music- stuff from 50’s and 60’s. My sweetie found me Christmas vinyl radio. http://www.christmasvinyl.com
I am really enjoying it! It sounds like vinyl, they play the classics and some strange weird stuff you can’t find anywhere else!
For the WoW nerds I highly recommend Oxhorn’s Christmas Album.
Ice Dance – Danny Elfman from Edward Scissorhands
The Closing Of The Year – from Toys the movie soundtrack
Anything from the original How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Even though it’s mostly “overdone” holiday music, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Michael Buble Christmas album. He also looks exactly like my brother which has nothing to do with anything but just saying. I’ve about worn that CD out in the last month.
For those who don’t mind religious tunes:
“Gabriel’s Message” – Sting
“The Christians and the Pagans” – Dar Williams
“Snoopy’s Christmas” -The Royal Guarsdmen(Kind of frequently played, but TOTALLY MY PARTNER’S FAVORITE. Also, chck out the rest of the album that this one’s from – It’s mostly about Snoopy!)
Album: “A Christmas Together”-John Denver and the Muppets. The whole thing. Especially 12 Days. Ba-DUMBUMBUM. (Song made for Shouting)
Music from Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. The songs are non-trad X-Mas fare, though no official album release was ever made, to my knowledge.
“Christmas in the Trenches” I’ll be honest, can’t remember the artist, but this one’s awesome, and based on a true story.
Dude, you just listed a whole bunch of my actual Christmas music. And I’m not religious but I do like some religious tunes. Sting’s “Gabriel’s Message” is great. I’ve never heard Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas!
Some of my favorite holiday albums:
• Holidayland by They Might Be Giants. It’s a short EP but it’s got a Hanukkah song on it, too!
• Christmas Caravan by Squirrel Nut Zippers
• Go Tell It on the Mountain by Blind Boys of Alabama (gospel, but you don’t have to be religious to love it)
• A Christmas Kind of Town by Marah
Christmas Caravan by the Squirrel Nut Zippers is my favorite xmas album of all time =)
Sting’s album goes on constant replay for me right after Thanksgiving. It’s one of the best christmas album’s ever!
Definitely seconding “The Christians and the Pagans”. My mom loooves this song.
Christians and the Pagans is my favorite Christmas song! 😀
I think this one only gets much play on WFPK in Louisville, KY, so here’s a Hanukkah song:
Well, that didn’t work.
The Rosebuds, an indie band from around my parts, released a Christmas album this year with all original songs. They’re really catchy and have lots of sing along choruses and sleigh bells. You can buy it at the usual places or listen on Spotify (I think). It’s called Christmas Tree Island.
I’m already a fan of the band, so it wasn’t hard to win me over.
I like the bright eyes christmas album..nice low key covers of the classics such as silver bells and white Christmas. Good for having something festive on in the background but not too over the top.
How is it that Johnathon Coulton is mentioned, but not Weird Al’s “Christmas at Ground Zero” or “The night Santa went crazy”?
I also like South Park’s “Christmastime in Hell.” Jon LaJoie also just came out with a Christmas song that is…very much his style.
I prefer the funny Christmas songs though, so these aren’t for everyone.
Tim Minchin’s ‘white wine in the sun’
Oh, oh, oh, and I may make myself sound a bit dated here, but my favourite Christmas album of all time is Hanson’s. 😀
River by Joni Mitchell! Sort of sad but I still like it 🙂
Robert Downey Jr.’s cover of River is my absolute favourite winter-time/holiday song ever. Everyone should check it out.
Carolina Christmas by the Squirrel Nut Zippers
YES! Christmas Caravan is my all time favorite Christmas album- right next to Charlie Brown Christmas.
My Myspace (remember that?) Christmas playlist:
“Spotlight on Christmas” Rufus Wainwright
“The Winter Song” Eisley
“Merry Little Christmas” Coldplay
“Christmas” The Who
“Father Christmas” The Kinks
“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” The Ramones
I’m actually very fond of the whole Barenaked Ladies christmas album (which I believe is called Barenaked For The Holidays) Footprints and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlement are the best off it.
Any of the “Very Special Christmas” albums are decent too, they’re generally popular artists doing Christmas carols (Like Stevie Nicks doing Silent Night or Euryithmics doing Winter Wonderland)
And someone already mentioned my favourite, the Charlie Brown Christmas album.
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