Is there a lot of Christmas music out there?
There is, in fact, a LOT of Christmas music out there and while we are most often concerned with the albums that come out every year, as you will see in a series of upcoming blog posts reviewing the ones I most love this year, there are also lots of one-off tracks that are released each festive season.
Many of them are joyous delights and the ten gathered together here give you some idea of the great festive pleasures that await you when you put aside the Christmas LPs, wonderful though they are, and go one-by-one when you’re programming your streaming playlists.
“It’s Not Christmas Until Somebody Cries” by Carly Rae Jepsen
If you were to take the Canadian singer-songwriter-actress on seasonal song title alone, you could be forgiven for thinking that she has a very dark view of Christmas. But not so, my friends; in fact, in a song that details vegans being fed fish and politics being discussed over a table groaning under a Christmas spread, “It’s Not Christmas Until Somebody Cries” is actually a fun, upbeat, affectionate ode to the glorious dysfunctionality of the average family festive gathering which can’t help but make you smile in recognition.
“Here This Christmas” by Gwen Stefani
Does Christmas make the heart grow even more fond that it is already? That it does; Mariah proved with her instant modern classic, “All I Want For Christmas is You” and know singer and TV show co-host Gwen Stefani is throwing any and all wishes for snow and carolling if it means the person she loves and adores is by her side this Christmas. We hear ya Gwen – “Here This Christmas”, which is incidentally the theme song for Hallmark Channel’s tsunami of festive movie offerings, is all of us at the most wonderful time of year.
The American singer-songwriter, actress, author, and television personality (thank you Wikipedia!) Kelly Clarkson may be going through a terrible marital split, the kind that no one survives without a lot of anguish, but her song “Under the Mistletoe”, an American country singer, is setting out to keep the spirit of festive romance alive. Bursting exuberance and passionate longing, and a few prayers to Santa, the track is all the upbeat joy and happiness you need this season.
“Christmas Without You” by Ava Max
Ava Max, a singer-songwriter who hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is joining Gwen Stefani with a fervent wish for her significant other to join her this holiday season – “When I wake up on Christmas Day / I hope the first thing I see is your face” – and you can practically feel the desperate need for their company coming through the speakers. “Christmas Without You” echoes the longing all of us to have the ones we love with us at Christmas with a delicious retro quality driving the musical point hoome.
Written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane in 1943 for the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is one of those things that is often sung, quite beautifully we should add, like some sort of lush lo-fi cabaret song. Truth is, it is heavy with melancholy and impending loss, and Kevin Max & Michael Tait, both onetime members of Christian group DC Talk, nail it’s wistful overtones with voices that convey the heartfelt emotion of the song.
This version of “The Christmas Waltz”, originally written for Frank Sinatra and first appearing as the B-side for his 1954 release, “White Christmas”, is brought vividly and gloriously to life by legendary Christian singer, Amy Grant, who knows her way around a Christmas song or two, and Marc Martel, a Christian rock musician from Canada, who together lend their gorgeous voices to a veritable classic of the genre. The song is beautiful all by itself but this version is sublime delight that will make you feel Christmassy in double time.
“Make You Mine This Season” by Tegan and Sara
Happiest Season, one of the best festive romantic comedies to come along in years is a ton of funny, heart restorative joy all by itself but with the addition of “Make You Mine This Season”, from openly gay pop duo, Vancouver, Canada-based Tegan and Sara, it is given a whole other level of Sapphic romantic euphoria by a song that is all kinds of expectant festive happiness. The film celebrates that love is love is love and the song echoes that with music that makes falling in love seem the only possible option this Christmas.
“My Gift is You” by Porcelan
Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Porcelan brings us a lush, sentimental, exquisitely chilled love letter to the joys of the festive season in “My Gift is You”, a song which extols the many wonderful attractions of the season but makes it clear the best gift is the one you love. Accompanied by one of the loveliest clips you will ever see, the song is a romantic treasure that celebrates the deep happiness that comes from having the one you love above all others by your side at Christmas.
“Why Christmas” by Alicia Witt
Alicia Witt is impressively multi-talented, active as an actress, singer-songwriter, and pianist, all of which becomes beautifully obvious with “Why Christmas”, a song that reflects, with vocals that are as warm as the wonders of the season, why Christmas matters so much. As love letters go to why the day is so important to so many people but especially to Witt, the song is an instant classic, lyrically and musically evocative in all kinds of very special moving ways.
“Let It Snow” by Colton Dixon
Colton Dixon, a Christian singer-songwriter from Tennessee who shot to fame by competing the eleventh season of American Idol, lends his emotionally evocative vocals to “Let It Snow”, a song written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne in 1945 in California when they were about as far as you can get from the white stuff. His version of the classic song comes complete with some tropical country music flourishes and a languid sense of the immense, soul-comforting joy that comes with that special someone by your side at Christmas.
AND ONE LAST THING …
I have loved the beautiful music of imaginative American violinist-songwriter-dancer Lindsey Stirling for many years since a very good friend introduced me to her music, and I especially love her gorgeous Christmas music. This clip for “Angels We Have Heard on High” has just debuted on YouTube and is from her 2017 Christmas album Warmer in the Winter which is just exquisitely gorgeous …