Christmas Alternatives

Around our house, the little lady loves her Christmas music. Correction: we ALL love Christmas music. Time was, yours truly was a curmudgeonly Scrooge when it came to Christmas tunes. My basic argument: lots of holiday songs are schmaltzy and overwrought from beginning to end. (Exhibit A: “Santa Baby” by Madonna) or they’re undone by ridiculous lyrics, like “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, that yuletide ode to the personification of wind conversing with livestock about astronomy. See what I mean?

But over time, Sunny’s appreciation for holiday music rubbed off on me and I’ve learned to embrace — even love — Christmas music. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we’re pretty much ear deep in Harry Connick, Jr., Elvis, Amy Grant, Mariah Carey, and a host of other artists, ringing in the holidays. We’ve accumulated all of the classic cuts, but sometimes you get a little tired of the same songs by the same artists.

So here’s a sampling of some Christmas Alternatives, different takes on some holiday standards to liven up your iPod this holiday season. Each track has been carefully selected for uniqueness and time-tested by our expert team of holiday music critics. Enjoy!

Angels We Have Heard On HighDavid Crowder Band. Two minutes of foot stompin’, banjo bliss. The song’s never sounded better.

Jingle BellsBNL. “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg. The batmobile lost its wheel, the Joker got away…” Man, I miss these guys.

Blue ChristmasHarry Connick, Jr. Tough to top the King’s version, but Connick’s iteration takes the cake as the bluesiest version of the song ever.

The Christmas SongMartina McBride. Martina’s Christmas album has been a staple around our home for years, but her rendition of this classic is absolutely beautiful.

The Christmas WaltzShe & Him. I love anything these two record, but their latest Christmas offering is a real winner.

Last ChristmasTaylor Swift. Tired of the synth-heavy Wham! version of this song that’s ubiquitous on Lite FM this time of year? Check out Taylor Swift’s fresh revisioning.

Holly Jolly ChristmasMichael Buble. Personally, I think he tries to hard to emulate Harry Connick, Jr., but this is one of the stronger songs on Buble’s recent Christmas album.

Joy To The WorldSufjan Stevens. Sufjan’s epic 4-disc 2006 album contains many neo-classics. This is simply one of them.

Silent NightJohnny Cash. This sparse recording highlights Cash’s traditional baritone, which sounds tailor-made for this song.

Silver BellsMeaghan Smith. I’d listen to this voice sing the phone book. As good as it gets.

Sleigh RideLos Straitjackets. Think Hawaii Five-O drum roll meets “House of the Rising Sun” guitar licks.

We Wish You a Merry ChristmasWeezer. This traditional fave gets the emo treatment, thanks to Rivers and the guys.

Winter WonderlandThe Brian Setzer Orchestra. Dean Martin recorded my favorite cut of this track, but Setzer’s swinging interpretation is pretty lively.

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6 Responses to Christmas Alternatives

  1. Stacy says:

    If I were a “Go-right-to-i-Tunes-to-download-songs” type of person, I’d be headed over to iTunes!! But I’ll just take your word for it.. πŸ™‚ Did want to point out, though, that you had a BNL song. As we’ve previously talked about, I can’t stand live music, but I did wnat to point out that BNL is the ONLY concert I have ever bought a ticket for and gone to see. There, of course, has been the show here or there at the state fair or acts that came to Harding, but BNL is the only for-real concert I’ve ever gone to. πŸ™‚

  2. Jason says:

    I think we’ve talked about that before, only briefly. You mentioned seeing them sometime in the early 90s when they were an up-and-coming band…I think you said you saw them in Michigan somewhere. Sunny and I loved their music; their concert was our last “date” prior to getting married. We even listened to a lot of their stuff while we were driving around in California on our honeymoon. Did you know they broke up? Well, I guess most of the band is still together, but one of the guys who sings lead vocals left to do some solo stuff and to teach voice in New York City or something. Kinda random.

    Next time you’re in the States, you guys will have to go and see the Avett Brothers with us! I think you’d like them! That is, if you can overcome your live-music-disdain! πŸ™‚

  3. Beth Grobmyer says:

    Check out Straight No Chaser’s version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Normally this song makes me change the channel but their version is great.

    • Jason says:

      Will do. Yeah, I’m ordinarily not a fan of that song…I think Bing Crosby’s version is the only one that I’ve liked over the years…but I’ll check out the Straight No Chaser version.

  4. I agree with Beth about Straight No Chaser’s version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Definitely on my list of favorite Christmas songs. I know I’m late to the game here, but maybe you can get an early jump for next year.

    • Jason says:

      I picked it up over at iTunes a few weeks back. Really solid. As you can tell from my posts, I’m something of a Christmas music junkie…thanks to my wife!

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