Another December, another opportunity to get up on my holly, jolly soapbox.
In one way or another, you’re probably a little sick of run-of-the-mill holiday jingles. Whether it’s from catching the first few repulsive seconds of an Alvin and the Chipmunks holiday song, hearing Adam Sandler form the laziest Hanukkah-related rhymes known to man, or witnessing yet another tone-deaf stranger attempting Mariah Carey’s unreachable falsetto, some seasonal classics simply can’t avoid getting a little dusty and overplayed.
But if 2018’s holiday season has proved any musical point, it’s that new Christmas songs are no longer just familiar carols that pop stars recycle as a pompous cash-grab. More and more artists are venturing into previously dangerous territory to create brand-new holiday content, and believe it or not, it’s really damn good.
Could new holiday songs really be that interesting and digestible? Modern luminaries like Tyler, The Creator, Phoebe Bridgers, Sufjan Stevens, Aloe Blacc, Chance the Rapper, and many others think so. While Christianity, snow, Santa, and love remain as familiar motifs, other concepts like poverty, regional cuisine, world tours, and loneliness add a human element to remind us there’s realistically more to a 21st century holiday than just being merry and bright. Even with the handful of cover songs like Anderson .Paak’s “Linus & Lucy” or Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects”, customary structure gets wrapped in a creative, unfamiliar paper that makes the songs seem just as new as the originals.
I say it every year, but it’s beyond important to realize that we have a natural resistance to new holiday music. After a lifetime of hearing the same eternally catchy sing-along songs every 12 months, the categorical barrier to entry has traditionally been far too high. The risk these artists took to create unique, contemporary holiday music is bold, and the least we could do is give them a chance. You won’t know the words. You won’t be familiar with the beats. But if you keep your heart as open as the holiday season often demands, you might find something you had no idea you were looking for.
Is a 20 song playlist really all the novelty the past few Decembers has to offer?
Of course not you scrooge! Repeat the sounding joy and check out these other awesome songs from the past few holiday seasons: