imaginary holiday party 2007
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…

Christmas-specific tunes

The Cold December Night album is full of “melancholy interpretations of Christmas songs envisioned by various members of Michael Bublé’s touring band.”

Hanukkah-specific tunes

Or check out the whole Hanukkah Rocks album.

Generic holiday tunes

Winter-themed tunes

The whole Fleeting Heart album is awesome, if you like indie folk rock.

Okay, music-loving Homies… what are you putting on YOUR holiday mix tape this year?

Comments on Non-sucky, non-overdone, holiday music

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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