Christmas is a holiday of waste. Of the estimated $507 the average American spends on gifts every year, over a hundred dollars would just as well have been tossed in the bin, about $13 billion in waste nation-wide.
Unfortunately the music released tends to be junk in even greater proportions. Bands go through the motions of putting out cheap stocking stuffers of songs, which while appropriate in celebrating a holiday of absurdity and bric-a-brac with absurdity and bric-a-brac (self-consciously and not), rarely resonate. Meanwhile the classics pale and yellow, more and more alienated from our experience every year.
So if most Christmas music is about junk and antiquated clichés, most of this music does it’s best to take that on. “Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” mixes irony with sincerity and precious details at just the right ratio, while in “Just Like Christmas” Low confronts what meaning is and isn’t left in Christmas.
Maybe trying to piece together a Christmas album is a doomed enterprise from the setting out. But for better and worse we’ll always be stuck with Christmas and Christmas music. Nothing left to do but to wade through the kitsch and old hats and make the best we can of all of it.
1) Bright Eyes – The Night Before Christmas
2) John Lennon – So This is Christmas
3) Low – Just Like Christmas
4) The Sonics – Don’t Believe in Christmas
5) Sufjan Stevens – Put the Lights on the Tree
6) Feist – Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming
7) Laura Gibson – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
8) Sufjan Stevens – Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!
9) Stevie Wonder – What Christmas Means to Me
10) James Brown – Please Come Home For Christmas
11) Death Cab for Cutie – Baby Please Come Home
12) Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds – The Christmas Song
13) Sufjan Stevens – Bring the Torch, Jeanette, Isabella
14) Banjo or Freakout – White Christmas
15) Sufjan Stevens – Come Thou Font of Every Blessing
16) Low – Long Way Around the Sea
17) Sufjan Stevens – That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!
18) Sufjan Stevens – Sister Winter
19) Low – Taking Down the Tree (Song for Little Baby Jesus)
Disclaimer: These songs are up for listening purposes only for a short time. If you’re an artist or label who wants the song taken down, please write me.