Christmas Alt Faves

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:

  1. “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.
  2. “Silent Night” by The Temptations. You haven’t heard this song until you’ve listened to this six-minute masterpiece.
  3. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Cat Power. You’ll recognize this song from Apple’s Christmas commercial last year. Love it.
  4. “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.”
  5. “The Christmas Waltz” by She & Him. Neo-nostalgia perfection.
  6. 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.
  7. “Sleigh Ride” by fun.
  8. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Punch Brothers. Frenetic. Weird. Haunting. Beautiful.
  9. “Frosty the Snowman” by Harry Connick, Jr.
  10. “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.
  11. “Wonderful Christmastime” by Jars of Clay. I’m pretty much over the McCartney original, but Jars have recorded a version that’s actually tolerable.
  12. “Silver Bells” by Meaghan Smith.
  13. “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.
  14. “Angels We Have Heard On High” by David Crowder Band. Your favorite Christmas song set to a foot stompin’ bluegrass hoe-down.
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3 Responses to Christmas Alt Faves

  1. 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.

    • Jason says:

      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.

  2. 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.

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