Christmastime is here, and in addition to being a time for joy and cheer, it’s also when you spend a good chunk of time with your family — and need to appeal to people of all ages. For the season of decking halls and being jolly, there are great candidates this year for new classics as well as some amazing takes on old standards. Here is a handful you can safely add to your holiday playlist without annoying grandma — and a few will even add to your cool credentials.
Sia “Candy Cane Lane”
When I read that Sia was releasing an album of original holiday songs, I knew it would be filled to the candy-coated brim with catchy Christmas songs. There are so many to pick from, but this one with its brassy beginning and easy to sing along to lyrics is my favorite. I’m also a huge fan of peppermint, so I will trip down any candy cane-lined lane in a heartbeat.
Gwen Stefani “Santa Baby”
Gwen doing “Santa Baby” has to be the no-brainer pick that prompted her to record a holiday album. She has the perfect voice to take on this Eartha Kitt classic. Her mid-range, nasal-inflected pitch and talk/singing style plays well with how Kitt created the seminal version of the song. She doesn’t bring much that is new in her interpretation, other than some vibrato, but she is the perfect singer to tackle it. Rated: safe for all ages, put it on repeat in your family holiday songs playlist.
Michael Bublé & Shania Twain “White Christmas”
Bublé for the holidays is a no-brainer, but Bublé with a side of Shania Twain is a treat. The duo honor the timeless original material in their version of “White Christmas” well, while stepping away from the sadness inherent in the Bing Crosby version, going instead for a Rat Pack-infused vibe heavy on the 2/4 snare and bass line to make it extra jaunty.
Cimorelli “Santa Tell Me”
Get into the spirit of the holidays and get ready for Pitch Perfect 3 in one fell swoop with this girl vocal group’s cover of Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me.” It’s something a little contemporary for your playlist, but with the sleigh bells and harmonies of a traditional holiday song.
Rostam “Fairytale of New York”
Leave it to former Vampire Weekend singer/songwriter Rostam to put together an interpretation of this Pogues Christmas classic, best sung at full volume in a bar, and turn it into a joyful track that sounds like he’s wearing a secret half-smile with every line. He does the duet with COSHA, and it is not even close to the same vibe as the original — which means it can stand up on its own, even for people who haven’t heard this cult holiday favorite. It’s still a foot-tapper, but much, much more relaxed and less boozy.
After my first job MTV working as a music programmer, I can’t stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book calledRecord Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I’m listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you’re listening to this week.
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