Admit: you are tired of Silver bells and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer as I am. Every mall and cafe has tossed the same old songs since we trashed our Halloween pumpkins – and ate the rest of the candy. Change is needed. It’s high time to restart the nation’s holiday playlist.
And so, spirit citizen that I am, here’s a list of a few lesser-known versions of songs for the season, with a couple of originals for good measure.
Plug in the tree lights, shake out the eggnog, and – if you’ve got a record player – pull out the vinyl. And listen to these premium tracks.
“Grace”, Lizz Wright
This song is a wonder. Mz. Wright is a glorious reminder that we can all use a little grace in our lives as we head into the New Year.
“Father Christmas, Father Christmas”, Charles Brown
They don’t come any more gently than Charles Brown, who is better known these days for it. other holiday song, “Merry Christmas, baby.” It’s cut from the same fabric – soft vocals, blues piano style – but not played as often. Here is your chance to remedy the situation:
“Santa, tell me” by Ariana Grande
Cheeky, boppy – Ari will cheer you on and make you dance in the kitchen as you sprinkle these homemade sugar cookies with red, green and sparkly sprinkles. Don’t forget to take a look at the hilarious exits – ho-ho-ho.
“White Christmas”, the Drifters
This group has gone through several incarnations, producing classics such as “Money Honey” and “There Goes My Baby”. This version of the Irving Berlin classic dates back to 1954 and stars the legendary Clyde McPhatter.
“Santa Claus”, Shakira
It’s hard to beat Eartha Kitt’s 1953 original, but Shakira manages to heat things up, aided and encouraged by a little jazz combo, at Rockefeller Center, 2009:
“Santa, go straight to the ghetto”, James Brown
The toughest man in the entertainment world, gives this merry old elf his marching orders. And just to let everyone know what it is, “Tell them James Brown sent you.” Better to listen to the Godfather of Soul, Saint Nick …
“The Angels We Heard Above”, Annie Lennox
Sweet Christmas dreams are made of it. Lennox brings his powerful, signature sound to this beloved hymn, filled with millions of red-robed choir members, in a 2010 performance.
“Silent Night”, the Swan Silvertones
One of the greatest gospel groups of all time lends its voice to another version of 1818 song. Claude Jeter’s voice, soaring above all, is diaphanous beauty.
“Lonely Christmas”, Crayon Pop
5 charming elves will chase away the holiday blues. This catchy melody is an earworm that I really adore!
“Christmas wrapping”, the waitresses
The late Patty Donahue was at the head of this new wave group best known for “I Know What Boys Like”. She brings an authentic touch of holiday desperation to this swift tale of missed opportunities … and seized opportunities.
There you go – 10 songs to restart our holiday playlist. It’s far from definitive, of course. There are so many Christmas carols and carols that I wanted to include, but there just wasn’t enough space to fit them all in.
And because after all, it’s better to give than receive, here’s a bonus song. I heard this in the local grocery store this morning and it’s been buzzing in my head for …
“This is Santa Claus”, Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters.
The Andrews Sisters – Meet Santa