It's that time again! Pretty much the one time of the year that I still update this blog, since I had a child and got a new job and became super busy all the time with life stuff. But never fear, friends, I wouldn't abandon you on this cold, rainy week encompassing both Chanukah and Christmas! I've got something special in my sleigh just for you, kiddies, and it's this year's Wired For Music Holiday Music That Doesn't Suck Playlist! It's a mix of Christmas music, winter music, weird and wonderful music...and all of it doesn't suck. So light the candles, sizzle up some latkes, trim the tree, pour some nog, and nestle in by the fire...and enjoy!
- Detroit Jr. - Christmas Day
Blues pianist Detroit Jr. kicks off things in a rocking fashion with this high-energy hit, pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
- Good Lovelies - Santa Baby
I've heard a lot of versions of Santa Baby, and while this one isn't terribly original, it's just too pretty not to include.
- Paul and Storm - Christmas Eve Eve
Back in college, I had the good fortune to be a member of the University of Maryland Generics. Long before I got there, some seminal members of that group went on to form DaVinci's Notebook, from the ashes of which rose musical comedy internet superstars Paul and Storm. What's the point? I don't know. But I do know that this song is a semi-cover of TMBG's "Dead" and that it's funny.
- Hill and Hale and their Merry Friends - Christmastime
Don't let the old-timey intro fool you, there's nothing old-fashioned about this overproduced piece of fluffy pop cotton candy. When I see the word "jolly" I hear this song.
- August Burns Red - Frosty the Snowman
I don't usually go in for "Christian metalcore," but Frosty never sounded like such a bad-ass. Props to my colleague Jenn for turning me on to this band's heavy-as-eggnog holiday album.
- He 5 - Here Comes Santa Claus
Good old-fashioned psychedelic silliness, but still not as weird as Bob Dylan's version (see 2009's playlist).
- Pulled Apart By Horses - Merry Christmas Everybody
These British rockers put the hurt on Slade's Christmas classic, sneering all the way. This is a good one to throw ornaments to.
- Erin Mckeown - Santa Is An A**hole
Don't play this one for the kiddies! Or do, if you want to open their eyes to the unfairness of the world, and in particular the Santa myth. Mckeown
may beis bitter, but she makes some fair points.
- The Both - Nothing Left To Do (Let's Make This Christmas Blue)
I've included Aimee Mann several times in playlists past, so I was thrilled when my friend Eduardo tweeted something about Mann's latest collaboration with Ted Leo for Christmastime. Full disclosure: this is not my favorite Aimee Mann holiday song, but it's pretty good. It's growing on me.
- Sufjan Stevens - Christmas in the Room (Guitar Version)
Keen observers will notice that I have 2 versions of this song in this playlist. Believe me, I tried to pick one, but that was during the same "paring down" session wherein I added three songs. So I'm not good at paring down, so sue me. Anyway this song is gorgeous and I couldn't pick a favorite version, so you get to decide for yourselves.
- Vassar Clements - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Just a beautiful, soulful instrumental version of this lovely tune from an American musical master (AKA "the father of Hillbilly Jazz").
- Emmy The Great & Lightspeed Champion - Christmas In Prison
I love Lightspeed Champion, I've never heard of Emmy The Great, and this song is really pretty and kind of sad and also funny.
- Liz Phair - Ho Ho Ho
Liz Phair can still write a near-perfect little pop song. If only she'd use her powers for good!
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs - All I Want For Christmas
Not to be confused with Mariah Carey's song of a similar name (which I actually think is great and totally meant to finally include on a playlist but it's too late now and this things already too big), this song is silly and weird and sounds like it could have come out a decade or so ago (rather than 6 years ago).
- Rotary Connection - Silent Night
This song is only on here because it features a 2-minute guitar solo for no reason. In Silent Night. So yeah.
- Morgan Ames - Santa's Watching
This sounds like a carol from the late 50s, maybe, but it's actually from the recently re-released soundtrack to 1984's vastly underrated Silent Night, Deadly Night. This song is actually really creepy when you listen to the words, but the arrangement is just fantastic and always reminds me of the Chordettes' Mr. Sandman.
- Butterfly Boucher - Cinnamon & Chocolate
I don't know why this is a Christmas song, or even what it has to do with winter except for a few references, but it's a beautiful song and you should get on board. Butterfly Boucher is Australian, but we won't hold that against her.
- Dum Dum Girls - On Christmas
Synth-heavy 80s throwback indie rock from an all-girl band. It's kind of about Christmas, or at least "Christmas" features heavily in the chorus.
- James Brown - Santa Claus, Santa Claus
James Brown. What else do you need to know about this? It's really sad when he sings "I went to the welfare, but I waited just a little too long." Good cheer!
- Loudon Wainwright - I'll Be Killing You This Christmas
Loudon Wainwright's ridiculous anti-NRA screed. Not ridiculous because of the content, but because it's disguised as a Christmas song. Fun fact: he was on an episode of M*A*S*H! True story.
- Best Friends - When Christmas Comes
I know nothing about this band, but this song rocks and it's about drinking at Christmas, so it's also true to life.
- Paul Di'Anno - Another Rock and Roll Christmas
If the lead singer of Iron Maiden doesn't make you feel the Christmas cheer, then I guess nothing well. That's on you.
- Lee Rogers - You Don't Have To Wait Til Xmas
Might most great Christmas songs, I think this one is about fucking. Or being in love. Or something. Probably fucking.
- Booker T. & The MG's - Jingle Bells
I've heard better Jingle Bells, but this one got stuck in my head for approximately a year and a half a while back, and I finally had to compile a playlist of every version of Jingle Bells in my collection (a lot) and listen to them all until I tracked it down. This took some time. So here it is.
- Pledge Drive - Christmas Rhapsody
Do you love Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, but always wish it was about Christmas? Boom: wish granted. [Editor's note: OK, this one sucks a little, but it tries really hard.]
- Sufjan Stevens - Christmas In The Room (Piano Version)
As I mentioned above, I couldn't decide which version of this gorgeous song to include, so you get both. Happy holidays!
SPECIAL BONUS TRACK: Run The Jewels - A Christmas F*cking Miracle
This song isn't officially part of this year's playlist because it has just about nothing at all to do with Christmas aside from the title, but the video is incredible, the song is great, and Run The Jewels did put out the best album of 2014 in any genre, so they earned it.
That's all, gang! Sorry this one was posted so late - that's what a full-time job, a sick toddler, and staying with your in-laws for 2 weeks will do to you, I guess. Or I'm lazy. Whatever, you decide. Happy holidays, and if you liked this, tell your friends - and tell me in the comments!
You can download this year's playlist here. And be sure to check out previous years!