Alongside dodging crowds of shoppers at the mall, and elderly family member's long-winded, eggnog-induced stories, one of the most traditional aspects of Christmas is the music.
Sure, we have the traditional Christmas songs that have been around since the early 20th century. We have the songs that you'll hear on every radio station, at every party, and in every shop in the days leading up to Christmas.
I have to admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for Christmas music. Maybe it's because I never worked in the retail sector, and never had to endure the same songs on loop for hours on end.
Or maybe it's the copious amounts of Who Hash.
Whatever the reason, I can't help but get the warm fuzzies when I hear something like Nat King Cole's rendition of "The Christmas Song."
Or when I watch the deliciously cheesy music video of "Jingle Bell Rock", by everyone's favorite half-mustachioed duo, Hall and Oates:
Over-the-top grins, gleeful head-bopping, and Santa popping out of thin air like magic?? Oh yes, Hall and Oates have the ability to make even the Grinchiest of hearts grow thrice its size!
A Very Indie Christmas
In recent years, it's become common for indie bands to cover classic Christmas carols, or to even put out their own original Christmas songs.
The following are my top 5 'Indie Christmas Songs.' Some have been around for awhile, and some have just been released this year.
5. allo, darlin'-Baby, It's Cold Outside
Originally written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, this song has become a pop standard duet that has been sung by, well, just about everyone.
One of my favorite versions of this song is from the movie "Elf", when Zooey Deschanel's character sings it with Will Ferrell's goofy Elf character.
This version by British artist Elizabeth Morris, a.k.a allo, darlin', was done in 2008. It's very lo-fi, and is noticeably missing the male part of the duet. However, this stripped-down rendition is still subtly beautiful in its own right.
Scroll down about halfway down the page, and you can listen to it here.
4. The Raveonettes-The Christmas Song
It may share the same title as the aforementioned Nat King Cole tune, but the similarities end there.
Although the Danish duo released this song a few years ago, like the most overly rum-soaked fruitcake, it's still just as fresh today.
They take aspects of 50s/60s, Phil Spector-esque music, and put a darker twist on it. Listen here.
And if that tickles your tinsel, you might also enjoy their cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."
3. Coldplay-Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Although I've never been a huge fan of Coldplay, there are certain songs of theirs that I can't help but love.
This cover of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" is one of those songs.
It's very simple, with just a piano accompaniment to Chris Martin's vocals, but it's emotional and sweet nonetheless.
2. Julian Casablancas-I Wish It Was Christmas Today
Lead singer of one of my favorite bands of all time, The Strokes, Julian Casablancas released a solo album this year: Phrazes For The Young.
Alongside putting out his own album, he decided to cover this comedic Christmas song from Saturday Night Live, a famous sketch show from the U.S.
The song was originally performed as part of a Christmas skit by Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Chris Kataan, and Tracy Morgan. In the original skit, the comedic value lies in the intentionally silly lyrics, and out-of-tune singing. However, Casablancas manages to put a cool and sultry spin on it, that oozes his New York attitude.
Here is Julian's version, and here is the original, for comparison.
1. Jomel-Untitled Christmas Song, 2009
Today, I logged onto Facebook to find a notification that I had been tagged in a video.
Curious, I clicked 'play' and found that it was an impromptu song by one of my best friends, Jomel, written and performed in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve.
The song is filled with inside jokes, over a background of acoustic guitar playing. It definitely put a huge smile on my face when I watched it!
I have to say, there is no better Christmas present than something that comes from the heart; something unique and not mass-produced.
And that's exactly why this is my number 1 indie Christmas tune of 2009!
What are your favorite Christmas songs of this year? Leave a comment with your top tunes, the reasons why, and links!
Merry Christmas to all!