5 Christmas Songs To Add To Your Rotation

Maybe you read my recent post about the wonders of Día de Los Muertos and thought, “Oh thank God, she’s not one of those Santa-blowing freaks who listens to Christmas music two months before December even starts.” And oh, my dear reader, how I wish I was the kind of person who respected the sequence of holidays leading up to the Christmas festivities. I wish I enjoyed Thanksgiving, even on some level, but I think Thanksgiving should be called “Weeks of Stress and Arguments Leading up to a Disappointing 20 Minute Dinner.” If you love Thanksgiving, then it may be because you love your family and hate Christmas, which I think is gross and wrong, but hey, it’s your life. Or maybe you fall into the other category: you love food and cooking and live for the pageantry of a beautifully-prepared meal. If you are that kind of person, I salute you, and I would like to receive an invite to your next Thanksgiving. I’ll bring pie.

However, until I get that invite, I will continue to despise this holiday. Now when I am celebrating the holidays, I go in this order: Halloween, Hallowtide/Día de Los Muertos, and Christmas from November 3rd to January 6th (if you’re wondering why January 6th, then please see this blog post I wrote about the wonders of Christmastide). Even though I give myself a minimum of two months two enjoy Christmas festivities, I crave more. I indulge in every part of the holiday, even the weird parts.

Some people have tried to tell me that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday associated with the Winter Solstice and Saturnalia as if
a) that would make me like it any less and
b) I wasn’t already fully aware of that fact (because I, too, know how to google things),
and those people are often disappointed when my love for the holiday only f*cktuples in intensity.

You ruined nothing, Adam Conover.

I write all of this to explain that I love Christmas, the history of the holiday, the fascinating religious significance, the food, the gorgeous traditions, and especially the music. If I were to wait until December 1st to listen to Christmas music and explore the seasons’ wonders, I would deny an essential part of myself. So I don’t wait. I will gladly listen to Christmas music all year round, especially if those songs are bangers. So as we near the end of November and the end of “Not Quite Almost Christmas Time,” I would like to introduce a few songs to your repertoire. You do not have to love these as much as I do, but one of them may spark the spirit of Christmas in you.

Enjoy the only not-Christmas song on this list

Joel the Lump of Coal” by The Killers & Jimmy Kimmel

Joel, the Lump of Coal” began as a joke on the Jimmy Kimmel show but is now one of my favorite Christmas songs. The band “The Killers” releases a Christmas song every year, and in 2014, they wrote this absolute gem. The song is about Joel, a sweet lump of coal who desperately wants to be a present for a nice boy or girl. Joel is soon horrified to learn that he’s not a present at all – he’s a punishment to be left for a naughty child. Joel doesn’t want to live with a naughty child, but what power does a single lump of coal have against the Christmas institution?

It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries” by Carly Rae Jepson

Y’all, I love Carly Rae Jepson. I think she’s a tragically underrated pop genius, and her Christmas single, “It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries,” is no exception to that. Carly’s song is a fantastic ode to the complex familiar horrors of Christmas. As much as we love our families, they can also be a nightmare, and sometimes when you cram 10+ ideologically diverse people in a room and force them to celebrate together, bad things will happen.

A Spaceman Came Traveling” by Chris de Burgh

A Spaceman Came Traveling,” asks a strange question: what if the Star of Bethlehem was a spaceship and kind, benevolent aliens were watching over us? Chris de Bourgh got the inspiration for the song after reading “Chariots of the Gods,” which low-key feels like the inspiration for “Ancient Aliens.” I hate how much I want to read this book now. While the material inspiring the song is a little trippy, the actual song is an enchanting science fiction melody that still inspires covers to this day.

Celtic Woman famously did a cover of the song, but I really loved this cover by Karliene!

When We’re Together” from “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure

Um, yeah, so I’m not a huge fan of the “Frozen” series. I’ve mentioned some of my thoughts about the franchise before, mostly in my rant regarding Disney’s unwillingness to take creative risks to appeal to the lowest common denominator. While I don’t appreciate how some executives at Disney interpret its box office success as a sign of its artistic merit, I still enjoy some aspects of the series. Like the beautiful visuals. And the music. And I think some people may be surprised to learn that I really enjoyed “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.” 

I know that “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” was controversial because it was released as an opening short film to Pixar’s “Coco.” Some people did not appreciate how this Scandanavian tale of Christmas adventures was taking the spotlight away from Pixar’s splendid film about Día de Los Muertos, an important Mexican holiday. To which I say, yeah, I kind of get it. It was annoying to watch a 21-minute Christmas movie about the Frozen princesses before the heart-wrenching story of a deceased man and his unending love for his daughter. It was like if you went to a restaurant to eat hot chocolate and conchas and someone said, “Yes, you can have that, but first you need to eat fondant-rich slice of Swedish Princess Cake.” 

To my surprise, I liked that forced slice of Swedish Princess Cake. I thought it was wonderful. I love how “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” expanded the lore of the Frozen kingdom and touched on the sadness of all of the holidays that Anna and Elsa had missed. So when they sang “When We’re Together,” it broke my heart a little. They can’t make up for all they’ve missed, but at least now they’re together.

This Thanksgiving is the first major holiday I’ve spent away from my sister, Bean, in six years. I’m honestly very sad about not being with her because as much as I dislike the holiday, she’s my favorite person, and I like to hang out with her. I think Bean would rather eat glass shards than listen to songs from the “Frozen” movies, but I still like it. It makes me think of the good times we’ve had and the good times to come in the future. You might think “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” is the worst thing to come out of the holiday season since fruit cake, but I have a soft spot for it.

“Naughty or Nice” by Tom Cardy

Release the damn song on Spotify, Cardy!

“Naughty or Nice” is a very weird Tom Cardy song that crams a lot of mythology into one chaotic beat. The story goes like this: Santa is pissed that he has to do all this work for Christmas, so he decides to declare every person “naughty” so he can get away with doing as little work as possible. This Santa is a mean man who hates everyone, especially his sh*tty, pro-union elves. Basically, we’re all on Santa’s naughty list.

So readers, I would like to know: what are some of your go-to Christmas songs? What underrated bop do I need to put on my list?

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