There will always be the traditional Christmas songs: “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Joy to the World,” “O Holy Night” and the like. But what about those other Christmas songs that don’t have hymnals as relatives, and whose basis is not praising the overtly holy aspects of this holiday? Though Christmas has a history rich with religion it has become more worldly. What was once the baby Jesus in his manger crib has become an image of hands spread across space in an embrace of peace. One common thread among modern Christmas songs is love, and for good reason. One third of this world is Christian. Only one-third. The other two-thirds are divided into varying religions or personal beliefs. But Christmas is one of the most recognized holidays and one of the most celebrated, even in countries where Christianity is by far the least recognized faith. It has been through this divide that we have received some of the greatest holiday songs: “The Christmas Song,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Last Christmas,” and more. They are songs that speak to people on an intimate level, and not about faith and praising the Lord, but about the spiritual experiences between two people. Those moments are a drop in the ocean, but without them, there would be no ocean. With that said, I introduce my first Christmas song recommendation:
“Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. It’s fun, up-beat, and so much fun to dance to. Or when drunk, sing to.
“When We’re Apart” by The Morning Benders. A great Bay area band. They have two albums and an EP out. Reminiscent of Bob Dylan, who they say is an influence. Relaxed music, hushed voices, simple lyrics, but all come together to create something wonderful.
“Basket Case” by Sara Bareilles. This song tugs at my heart. Her voice is the most prominent feature on this track. It adds intimacy to the lyrics, like she is singing to you.
“Killing a Camera” by Braid. Brings me back to high school and when I delved into the post-hardcore emo scene. My first real taste of different music, as I had grown up listening to the oldies stations and adult contemporary (my parents liked their radio stations). It sounded so different with static drums, diverging guitar rifts and double vocals. It strayed away from the classic A B A B bridge B B B consistency of most music. But it still maintained a level of consistency. This song, specifically, I did not discover until recently, but it holds a level of rock mixed with just the right amount of pop.
“Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons. Freak folk, I believe, is how these guys are described. I think it is an apt description. This song, specifically, makes me so happy.