We love Christmas music around our place. The little lady usually starts listening to her Christmas albums in September / October, sometime around the first cold snap of the season. (Personally, I have a strict Nov. 1 policy. But we don’t really get cranked up in earnest until Thanksgiving.)
Over the years, we’ve accumulated quite a collection of Christmas tunes. But we’ve also found quite a few alternate versions of some of our favorites. Here’s a compilation of the best “alt faves” around our house. If you’re looking for some late additions to your Christmas music canon this year, check out a few of these:
- “Christmas Time Is Here” by Gabe Dixon. Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Charlie Brown Christmas” is probably my favorite Christmas album top-to-bottom. Prior to hearing this version of “Christmas Time Is Here”, I would’ve considered any recording other than the original sacrilege. But Dixon perfectly nails the tone and mood of the original while making his rendition seem fresh. Nicely done.
- “Silent Night” by The Temptations. You haven’t heard this song until you’ve listened to this six-minute masterpiece.
- “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Cat Power. You’ll recognize this song from Apple’s Christmas commercial last year. Love it.
- “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” by The Civil Wars. It’s a shame these two couldn’t work things out. Nowhere is that more evident than when they harmonize, “Peace on earth, good will to men.”
- “The Christmas Waltz” by She & Him. Neo-nostalgia perfection.
- “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” by Norah Jones. I still love Ella Fitzgerald’s version, but Norah’s countrified cover oozes a different kind of vibe with just as much soul.
- “Sleigh Ride” by fun.
- “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Punch Brothers. Frenetic. Weird. Haunting. Beautiful.
- “Frosty the Snowman” by Harry Connick, Jr.
- “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Fruit Bats. Yes, once upon a time there was a band called Fruit Bats. And yes, this SoCal pedal steel heavy recording is great.
- “Wonderful Christmastime” by Jars of Clay. I’m pretty much over the McCartney original, but Jars have recorded a version that’s actually tolerable.
- “Silver Bells” by Meaghan Smith.
- “Up On the Housetop” by Sufjan Stevens. Isn’t it about time for Sufjan to release another Christmas album? Gene Autry’s version of “Housetop” is seminal, but Sufjan’s submission is funky and fun.
- “Angels We Have Heard On High” by David Crowder Band. Your favorite Christmas song set to a foot stompin’ bluegrass hoe-down.
Nothing from Pentatonix? I’m a bit disappointed, unless they’ve already made it to the main list from the alt list. I figured something like “White Winter Hymnal” or their mix of “Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy” might have made the list.
Jonathan, I’m not a huge Pentatonix fan, believe it or not. I’ve listened to them a bit over on Amazon Prime and I didn’t love it. Maybe I just wasn’t listening to the right songs. I’ll check out the ones you recommend.
A couple of other songs of theirs to check out (originals) – “That’s What Christmas Means to Me” and “Run to You.” Straight up a capella with some really tight harmonies. Also, “Radioactive” which features a violinist (Lindsay Sterling) and the beatboxer playing cello.