Music Monday: New Favorite Holiday Songs

Monday, December 17, 2012

Given my absolute sense of thrill around the holidays, I don't think it's any surprise that I love love love Christmas and holiday music and I start listening to it as early as I can get away with it (and sometimes much, much earlier!). I began collecting Christmas CDs at about age 14 and I will pretty much accept any artist's Christmas record (even 'N Sync's). That's how much I love holiday and Christmas music.

Here's a list of my favorite "new favorites" when it comes to holiday music -- songs that have become a part of my permanent Christmas playlist over the years that aren't considered traditional (or even new traditional) Christmas songs.

"Fa La La," Justin Bieber ft. Boyz II Men
I might as well start with the one that may be considered the most "offensive" -- a Justin Bieber song. I have a love-hate "relationship" with Justin Bieber. I thought he was really cute and charming and yes, had Bieber Fever, with his second album. But he's grown up now and I no longer find him appealing at all. However, I can't deny that his Christmas album from last winter is a wonderful and somehow original spin on Christmas music. Most of the songs on the album are originals, which I consider a feat. How do you make R&B/pop music sound Christmassy? I don't know, but he does it here, AND the song features Boyz II Men, who I am a fan of.

"On This Winter's Night," Lady Antebellum
I've found that even though I'm not a fan of honky tonk country music, when it comes to Christmas music, the more country it sounds, the more Christmassy it sounds! Lady Antebellum isn't THAT country, but there's a coziness that Charles and Hillary's voices create ... like a warm blanket in front of a roaring fire, looking out frosted windowpanes.

"Christmas in the Sand," Colbie Caillat
A shoutout to all my friends who celebrate Christmas where it just doesn't snow ... Colbie makes a Christmassy song out of her signature style of beachy acoustic tunes.

"Christmas in the Air," Carole King
We had Christmas in the sand and now ... I love Carole King, even if she and her daughter don't sound exactly spot-on here. This song has a quirky but still festive quality to it and just I love it.

"Home for Christmas," 'N Sync
You might find this hard to believe, but it took me a while to choose just one song from 'N Sync's Christmas album. This is really one of my favorite, favorite Christmas albums, as hard as it is for me to admit. Each song is really festive and sounds really heartfelt, considering this is a pop record that was probably pumped out really quickly. "Kiss Me At Midnight" is another favorite, though it's more a New Year's song than a Christmas song.

"A Little Bit of Love," Joy Williams
Joy Williams is one half of the folk group The Civil Wars (who are now taking an indefinite break). This song was recorded before The Civil Wars even came together (I think!) and began touring with Adele. This song is just so homey and cheery, wintery. But it's definitely a song good for all time.

"Cold December Night," Michael Bublé
For some reason, I can only take Michael Bublé in small doses, just as I can only take Justin Timberlake in small doses. I know they have almost nothing in common, but something about both of them rubs me the wrong way after more than a handful of songs. This Michael Bublé Christmas song is one of the few exceptions ... of course I associate it with cheery Christmas commercials and colorful sweaters, but that's not always a bad thing.


"City of Silver Dreams," Sugarland
Okay now Sugarland is one of those really twangy country bands. And this song works for me ... it's not a cheery Christmas song, but one of those wistful ones that are equally appreciated around this time of year. This one's definitely on my playlist for that Christmas drive around to look at other people's Christmas decorations. Sugarland produced an entire Christmas album, and the song "Nuttin' for Christmas" is another favorite of mine.

"It's Not Christmas Without You," Katharine McPhee
I hate music videos with long, drawn out dialogues and "prefaces" ... I mean, that's what the music and lyrics are supposed to do, right? In any case, Katharine McPhee's voice is always beautiful, regardless of what she sings. I think her strength, especially, lies in emotional, subdued songs. This one is beautifully somber.

"This Gift," 98 Degrees
I think I just have a thing for boy bands, or male teen pop idols or something. The 98 Degrees Christmas album is also another really great one, but they've always been really great at harmonizing. In general, I do think 98 Degrees was underrated as a group in the 90s when they were lumped together with the other boy bands (they started out as a vocal harmony/R&B group). But then when the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync got really popular, 98 Degrees went really pop, so. I have a lot of middle school/high school memories linked to this song, and that may in part be its appeal.

"Only You Can Bring Me Cheer," Alison Krauss
Alison Krauss is traditionally a bluegrass-country singer, but that's almost not readily apparent in this song. I really love this song for this time of year because it's so upbeat, and though Alison has a light voice, it has a bluesy quality to it that makes just about all of her songs extremely pleasant to listen to.

"Peace," Norah Jones
This song is actually a cover from a long-ago song by Horace Silver on saxophone, so I suppose it could be considered a traditional song. Alongside country music, I find jazz and R&B most befitting for the holiday season. This song is incredibly calming ... and peaceful, like its title denotes. I guess it's not a Christmas or holiday song, but there is something very wintery about it, isn't there?

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  1. I used to be so in love with 98degrees. I feel the same way about Michael Buble. I can't listen to his album without cringing. Only one song at a time...and occasionally for me.

    1. I thought it was just me! And the Michael Buble thing is a new development ... I used to be able to listen to him more frequently, but then he had that hit a couple years back. His voice is a little too "show tunes" for me now.



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