The Daily Northwestern

Holiday Guide: The alternative holiday mix

Shane McKeon, Reporter

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As everyone knows, Christmas music is great. In fact, some would say it’s the greatest. For others, though, an entire season of Michael Buble’s “Christmas” can be daunting, if not fatal. Submitted for your approval: A dozen classics (or soon-to-be classics) you may have missed.

“Christmas in Harlem” — Kanye West

What’s Christmas without some “wrapping?” Props to my editor for keeping that in. Anyway, “Dark Fantasy”-era Kanye dropped a star-studded carol, featuring verses from Pusha T, Big Sean, et al.

“Last Christmas” — Wham!

Recently made even more famous by Taylor Swift’s cover, the original, chock-full of 80s drum machines and “Careless Whisper”-hazy vocals, makes you want to whip out the leg warmers.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” — Otis Redding

My biggest problem with Christmas music—sorry, Mr. Buble—is the lack of soul. Otis Redding, on the other hand … need I say more?

“A Very Decent Christmas” (mixtape) — Diplo and Mad Decent

Diplo and friends dropped a batch of holiday bangers last Christmas, including “Turn Up Ye Merry Gentlemen.” This year’s version, “A Very, Very Decent Christmas,” also slaps hard.

“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” — Billie Holiday

Not technically a Christmas song but, like much of Holiday’s work, it’s a musical fireplace, with warm vocals and production apt to help you thaw after your walk back from Tech.

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” — Luther Vandross

Light the fireplace, put on your best black turtleneck and get ready for some sweet, sweet sax.

“Frosty the Snowman” — Fiona Apple 

One for the hipsters. Fiona Apple is hip, right? I’m self-conscious about this stuff. Either way, it’s a great tune. Even on this whimsical song, Apple pushes her vocal cords to their brink, and the results are wonderful.

“Fairytale of New York” — The Pogues

Shane Patrick McKeon needed to add a token Irish Christmas song right about now. Check out this classic duet, a perennial favorite on the other side of the pond.

“Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)” — The Ramones

If you love Christmas but always thought there weren’t enough leather jackets and metal studs, boy, do I have a track for you.

“White Christmas” — Etta James

Well-known song, relatively unknown cover. Similar to Holiday, James’ voice makes your house warmer, your worries lighter and your peppermint mocha sweeter.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” — Bright Eyes

Okay, nevermind, this is the one for the hipsters. The mandolin-rocker “Gentlemen” is my favorite cut off of the band’s Christmas album, which is worth checking out as a whole.

“O Come All Ye Faithful” — Art Garfunkel

If you’re going to sip Earl Grey as you stare longingly out a condensated kitchen window on a quiet December morning, this is the song for you.

Email: shanemckeon@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Shane_McKeon

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