Love it or hate it, from the second the last firework pops on 5th November, Christmas music is inescapable. It’s on the radio, it’s on your television, it’s in every single bustling high street shop. But Christmas music doesn’t have to mean the same 10 songs you hear year after year on the same naff CD your Mum keeps in the loft but no-one is really sure where it materialised from. We’re here to help with a run down of the best songs, be it iconic (Mariah we’re looking at you), indie or just cheesy pop. Tis the season to be jolly after all…
Personally, the album I play on repeat every year, the album which for me has come to epitomise the festive season is A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector. Originally released in the 1960s, this album is collection of soul Christmas classics to warm your heart and fill you with festive cheer. The beauty of this album is that each song is perfectly festive but the artistry of the singers (think 1960s American girl groups) elevates the music above your standard song with bells on. Covering classics such as Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Here Comes Santa Claus, the album also contains some absolute Christmas crackers by Darlene Love, including my personal favourite Christmas song of all time: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). A beautiful curated album full of festive cheer.
If bluesy, soul inspired Christmas music is your thing, you’d be hard pressed to find a better album than the King himself. Elvis’ Christmas Album follows in a similar vein to Phil Spector’s; masterful covers of the classics. His cover of Silent Night is sheer perfection. Warming, festive and rich in vocals, what more could you ask for?
Moving away from the 60s to the more modern day, it seems to have become trendy for some of our favourite indie bands to whack out festive covers and for die-hard Christmas music fans like myself, this is nothing but a good thing! Marika Hackman’s Wonderland features ethereal folk versions of some more traditional festive songs. In The Bleak Midwinter, an emotional poem in an of itself, gains a kind of magical quality with Marika’s touch. For more of the same, check out Sufjan Stevens’ Songs For Christmas, a five volume heavy, two hour long indie Christmas bonanza.
For some one off indie Christmas covers and singles, check out The Big Moon’s It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Julian Casablancas I Wish It Was Christmas Today, The Wombat’s Is This Christmas? and Palma Violets’ Last Christmas On Planet Earth. If indie Christmas music is your thing, check out The Killers’ work, as they released a festive single every year from 2011-2016.
If indie music isn’t your cup of tea, luckily pop-stars have taken to releasing Christmas albums too. For the ultimate cheesy pop-fest, Justin Bieber is your ticket – Mistletoe is an absolute banger. Alternatively, Ariana Grande has released two festive EPs as well as a handful of singles. If this is your thing, Girls Aloud’s cover of Jingle Bell Rock will be right up your street.
After venturing away from the typical Christmas songs, it wouldn’t be a festive music article without a mention of some of the greats. Every year you’re bound to hear The Waitresses’s Christmas Wrapping and you can’t really have December without The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York, a favourite with all ages and a classic in its own right. Similarly, Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You manages to crawl its way back up the charts year after year, and deservedly so.
The beauty of a Christmas song is that it can be as cheesy as you want it to be, and almost every single genre will offer a whole host of fresh offerings each year, so get on Spotify and happy listening!
– Lowri Ellcock