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Christmas Music That Doesn’t Suck

November 25th, 2009

xmas cat is not pleased.

If shopping malls can get away with putting up their Christmas paraphernalia in November, I do not see why I should be ridiculed for making Holiday mix tapes already. When it comes to the most uplifting and jolly celebration of the year, it really is never too early to get into the holiday spirit.

But let’s face it, that elevator music they play in The Bay is just not going to cut it. There is nothing that makes me want to slit my wrists more than hearing a monotone rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” on repeat for three months.

So, why not start the festivities right with hymns and carols that won’t turn you into a Scrooge. Here is my top picks for The Best Christmas Mix Tape Ever!

1. Bob Dylan – “Must Be Santa”

In his first music video since “Not Dark Yet” (which was over a decade ago, btw!), Dylan has released a single, “Must Be Santa”. Featuring a slightly older sounding Dylan, a chorus that sounds like it was recorded at a bar, and a sharp sense of humour, it is likely to become a holiday classic. I won’t lie, the party in this video looks like a pretty wild fest! Surely someone must have spiked the eggnog? This song isn’t all about fun and games though, the royalties from the album, Christmas in the Heart, will be donated to Feed America and other international charities.

2. Sufjan Stevens – “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!”

If you haven’t heard this box set of five EPs of Christmas related songs then you need to sort your life out.

3. Laura Marling – “Goodbye England, Covered In Snow”

19-year-old Laura Marling has managed to create a song so devoid of cheesy x-mas cliches that if you weren’t entirely paying attention, you would probably figure this was just a regular song. Filled with quintessential Laura Marling allure, this is truly beautiful.

4. Julian Casablancas – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

Like, where is the mistletoe already? As if being the singer/songwriter behind The Strokes was not heroic enough for Julian, he had to go record a Christmas song that I will probably listen to all year round. Maybe it’s because this track off his newest solo album, , sounds freakishly similar to The Strokes’ “Hawaii Aloha”, except with Sleigh Bells. Hmmm. Regardless, I enjoyed it nearly as much as the SNL version of this song.

5. Jackson 5 – “Season’s Greetings From Michael Jackson”

Michael Jackson is dead, did you really think there would be a 2009 Christmas Playlist without everyone’s favourite pop icon? This winter The Ultimate Christmas Collection has been released and it has some real gems on it, for instance, this spoken word message from MJ himself. I think I just shed a tear.

6. The Knife – “Christmas Reindeer”

Swedish electro duo, The Knife are one of my favourite groups anyways, but this song about reindeer just took my obsession to another level. Eerie and otherworldly, this song is like having Halloween on Christmas.

7. Arcade Fire – “Jinglebell Rock”

Canadian favourites Arcade Fire killed it with the classic, “Jingle Bell Rock” off their 2001 EP A Very Arcade Xmas. A little youthful, a little mischievous and extremely playful, this is the Arcade Fire like they’ve never been heard before. In my opinion it beats out the version from the movie Mean Girls, and that’s kind of saying something.

8. Frightened Rabbit – “It’s Christmas, So I’ll Stop”

In spite of jingle bells and subtle ho-ho-ho’s, this song is one of the least annoying and commercial Christmas tunes I’ve ever heard. As a matter of fact, it’s a bit heartwarming. The arrangement of the strings, piano, flutes and choir, remind me why I like this time of year. The singer, Scott Hutchison probably described it best: “["It's Christmas..."] is about people deciding to be pleasant to one another for about one day, regardless of whether or not they actually get along the rest of the year.” Awww!

9. Destiny’s Child – “8 Days of Christmas”

Duh! This is a no brainer. Christmas would be nothing without some bootylicious presents. I know what I’m asking Santa for this year: Beyonce.

NB: For best results consume with hot chocolate, the fireplace channel and premature advent calenders.

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