Wrap Up the Season with the Best Holiday Tunes

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It seems to be that when the clock strikes midnight on that fourth Thursday in November, a signal goes off across American households to automatically switch gears from Thanksgiving to the next holiday season. With remarkable swiftness (for such big bellied, turkey stuffed humans) we begin everything from shopping to decorating, fully immersing ourselves in a four-week themed lifestyle. The holiday’s bleed into our food, clothes, art, and attitudes, and as we share similar traditions and values across cultures there seems to be a general sense of joy… a joy that is perhaps most widely expressed through the many holiday tunes that come packaged with it.
Local radio stations, retail stores, offices, and even streets become filled with the sounds of famous carols and choruses to add to the buzz of the season. For the whole month of December, holiday music dominates the airwaves and almost always lingers in your brain (I’ve had jingle bells for the past three weeks), giving you the sounds of the celebration with nearly every step you take. Though there usually comes a point where I feel quite exhausted by the breadth of such familiar songs, I generally find holiday music to be uplifting jubilees that connect a wide range of musicians and people- I mean when else can you compare Bob Dylan and Justin Bieber?
Since nearly every musician has experimented with some sort of holiday tune, there’s almost certainly a style of holiday music for everyone. Whether its Springsteen’s rockin’ version of “Santa Claus is Comin to Town,” Mariah Carey’s famous “All I want for Christmas is You,” or Adam Sandler’s hilarious “Chanukah Song,” the sounds of the season are sure to light up any holiday. Or at least, bring forth some feelings of nostalgia.
Listed below are some of my favorite holiday tunes and explanations of why I find them so delightfully charming each year:
1. “Happy Christmas” – John Lennon
So this is Christmas. And who better to philosophize about the coming year than the peace preaching Lennon? This song never fails to remind me of the power that can be brought with each New Year. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the bustle of the holidays around this time, but John asks us to really think about what this season means and what we can all do to make it better. If that’s not the spirit of the holiday, then I don’t know what is.
2. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” – Bruce Springsteen
I know I already mentioned it but I mean come on. Bruce turned Christmas into some damn good rock ‘n’ roll! My father used to blast this every year when I was a little kid and it always had us dancing around the tree. His power and charm gave this classic, well known, Christmas song a unique and upbeat twist- and Clarence’s sax is nothing short of holy.
3. “Father Christmas” – The Kinks
While this isn’t quite the traditional Christmas song, it’s charming for its twist- instead of singing about the traditional happiness of Christmas, the Kinks give us a punkier rock song about greed and commercialism. As Father Christmas gets robbed by some “little rich boys” we’re reminded of the very monetary aspects of Christmas, giving us a song that, on the surface seems pretty silly, but in truth gives us something to think about.
4. “Silent Night” – Stevie Nicks
Stevie sings this one beautifully. With an array of background singers and harmonies, her rendition of this famous holiday tune is by far my favorite. Her voice puts such a unique piercing quality to the song that makes you soak in the lyrics more than any other. Her soul oozes into each note to make you feel the emotion and power behind the ‘silent night’.
5. Wonderful Christmastime: Paul McCartney
Where there’s a great John song, there’s bound to be a great Paul song. “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime” offer such simple, inviting lyrics to sing along to in the holiday season. It’s got that perfect Paul charm to get you up and grooving with some Christmas joy.
6. “Chanukah Song” – Adam Sandler
 This song will always make me choke on my ‘gin and tonikkah’ with absolute laughter. Adam Sandler offers a hilarious song to bring light to a lack of Jewish representation in the holiday season. Through naming famous Jewish people, Sandler offers up a wonderfully comedic song to give a shout out to Hanukkah and bring forth a holiday necessity for people of all cultures and celebrations.
7. “Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne” – Jimi Hendrix
Yes, this exists. And it’s awesome. Hendrix slammin his guitar to an all instrumental rendition of three famous Christmas songs is exactly what the holiday season needs. He brings forth so much power to each song, transforming them from their typically soft and quiet natures to a hardcore, smooth piece of electric beauty.
Other notables:
“Little Saint Nick” – The Beach Boys
“Do You Hear What I Hear” – Whitney Houston
“A Christmas Gift For You (from Phil Spector)” album – Various Artists
“Christmas Must Be Tonight” – The Band
“The Little Drummer Boy” -Bob Seger