A Present For You: Our Christmas Playlist

Posted 12/24/2010 by Amy Kristen in Labels: , , , ,

Happy Christmas, everyone! Yes, it is truly the most wonderful time of the year… No school, no work, just a whole bunch of lazing around. And eating – that’s the most important part.

Now, there are plenty of non-Christmas-celebrating readers among us, and to them I offer the generic “Happy Holidays” greeting. Even those of us who do celebrate Christmas have widely differing opinions about what the holiday means. But whether you’re Christian, Jewish, atheist, or a member of your own made-up religious cult, all Americans get to share in something special this time of year: the inundation of Christmas music.

Like it or not, Christmas music is everywhere, blasting in the grocery store, playing endlessly on that one awful easy-listening radio station, and streaming from the mouths of horrifying plastic dancing Santa figurines.

Here’s a little history lesson about Christmas carols that you didn’t ask for:
Pagan carols were first sung in Europe to celebrate the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year, which was Dec. 21 this year). Early Christians took over this pagan celebration and gave the people new songs to sing instead – ones that glorified the birth of Jesus Christ. In 1223, Saint Francis of Assisi introduced carols to the worship service during a Christmas Midnight Mass. Carols began to catch on with the public and popular artists soon began trying to one-up each other by recording their own version of the same songs year after year.

Okay, that last part didn’t start to happen until the 1900s, but Christmas carols have certainly stuck around for a long time. Christmas music can now be broken down into subcategories, such as Traditional (usually the old Christian standards, such as O Come All Ye Faithful), Popular (Mariah Carey and Love Actually… that’s all I will say), and Novelty (witness the horrifyingly creepy tale of marital infidelity known as I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus).

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the music of Christmastime… I find it primarily grating and monotonous. But there are a few gems to be found within the pile of musical waste.

And so, here is my Christmas present to you, dear Art Star readers: an Amy-approved Christmas Playlist! Just click on the song titles to listen!

(You're welcome)

1. Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt -- The cutest, sassiest little Christmas song there ever was, and no one does it better than Eartha.

2. Mad Russian's Christmas (Instrumental) by Trans-Siberian Orchestra -- Sounds like Christmas shopping feels (especially if you waited until this week to go to the mall). Vibrant, pulsing, energetic... now this is the true Christmas spirit.

3. Greensleeves by Vince Guaraldi Trio -- Otherwise known as one of the songs from A Charlie Brown Christmas. You just can't fight the classics.

4. 2000 Miles by The Pretenders -- Here's a Christmas song you don't ever hear on the radio, which is a shame because it's haunting and beautiful, and Chrissie Hynde's vocals are divine.

5. Baby It's Cold Outside by Lady Antebellum -- This is the rare newly-released Christmas song that I actually enjoy. It's excellent; Lady Antebellum's vocals fit this sexy, flirty song perfectly.

6. Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano -- Ok, guilty pleasure time. I can't help it. I just love this song. I think it ties in to the fact that as a child I liked watching Big Bird ice skate to it in the 1978 movie Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

7. Good King Wenceslas by Loreena McKennitt -- A tale about the spirit of giving in the holiday season ("Ye who now will bless the poor/Shall yourselves find blessing"). This song will make you feel like you're in the Middle Ages again (minus the filth, poverty, and other such undesirable traits).

8. Pat a Pan by Mannheim Steamroller -- This song is keeping in the spirit of ye olde days. Mannheim Steamroller is my go-to band for Christmas music. Their gorgeous instrumental interpretations of Christmas carols is overwhelmingly better than the more popular fare. This song may not be as traditionally "Christmas," but it's one of their best.

9. Merry Christmas, Baby by Charles Brown -- Smooth as buttery caramel toffees and a cup of hot chocolate. This is a song for some Christmastime lovin'.

10. Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth) by Bing Crosby & David Bowie -- My absolute #1 favorite Christmas song. Crosby and Bowie are an ingenious pairing. I'll let the video show you why.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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