Ah, yes. December, the month of sweet, sweet holiday jam redemption. I have been waiting for today ever since March, when everyone was groaning with disgust and wanting to kill me for still listening to Christmas With The Rat Pack. Is it so wrong that I think Frank Sinatra’s “I Believe” is a really cute and inspirational song? Sheesh. Luckily, my time has come and it is once again socially acceptable to get cracked out on carols and rock around the ‘ole Christmas tree.
In my personal opinion, there is nothing more fun than crafting your personal seasonal soundtrack.
Christmas is a sentimental soiree, a fine balance between fun and family. I find the best Christmas songs are simultaneously comforting and exciting. They stir favorite childhood memories and remind us of the simpler times before auto-tuning, all the while promoting an upbeat and social environment. Basically the kind of records you’d hear on rotation at the Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce holiday office party.
“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee
This is the perfect song to start your Christmas playlist because everyone is still up and suddenly, strolling becomes sashaying. Glasses start clinking and girls start laughing. Men are obviously snapping their fingers and grinning handsomely. It’s a flawless formula of innocent 1950’s pop, rockabilly-inspired beats and the playful spirit of Kevin McCallister.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Dean Martin
One of the first times we saw our girl Zooey sing was in the movie Elf. She did a phenomenal version of this song, which is actually a lot nicer to listen to than this one. But the reason I love this one, is because the girl singing in it has a voice that is easily over powered by your own. Growing up, I would sing this in the mirror and pretend that it was in fact my duo with old Dino. I never got to make 1960’s Dean Martin’s acquaintance, but when we’re singing together I like to pretend that he’s a real gentleman. And that he’s in love with me. Although, don’t think about the lyrics too hard. After enough Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, it starts to sound like he’s going to drug her at any second.
I revealed so much about myself in that paragraph.
“White Christmas” by The Drifters
I realize we’re only three songs in and it looks like I’m just writing down the Home Alone track list. I swear I’m not just copying from Amazon, but it would be remiss of me to feature this song without tipping my hat to one of the most iconic moments in cinema.
(Or, alternatively this.)
Oh, John Hughes.
You had me at Sixteen Candles.
I digress. Anyway, the Drifters have this whole doo-wop thing down pat. I love the minimal instrumentation paired with a sinewy ensemble. It’s warm and toe-tapping.
“Here Comes Santa Claus” by Elvis Presley
Can we just take a minute to listen to how swoonable Elvis is? His voice is like velvet and his signature style is enchanting. He sings like he is flirting with you.
“Linus & Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi
You’re probably like, “You should have picked that one where all they say is ‘Christmas time is here…'”. yeah, I get that, but hear me out: this one is better. I say this because it immediately makes people smile and want to do a goofy Charlie Brown dance. This was like the first documented dance party. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a very good video on YouTube of it, so someone in the infinite internet with some extra time on their hands should take care of that.
“Winter Wonderland” by Bing Crosby
This will come on and your grandparent will be thankful you didn’t forget about Bing, like you’re some ignorant Christmas noob. Bing has a stockpile of yuletide hits, but this one is a little more upbeat while still a classic. I’ll want to put on my sweats if I listen to too much cozy crooning.
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Darlene Love
This tune is catchy while still stirring a very serious sentiment: being without your number one on Christmas is a bummer. Even the brokest of us want someone to shower with presents and love during the holidays. You just really feel for Darlene here because we’ve all been there but it moves along fast enough so that you’re not moping in the corner.
“Sleigh Ride” by Ella Fitzgerald
This song is so relaxing yet still voluptuously jazzy. This is the part of the party where maybe you’ve snuck off to a corner with a cutie, chatting about how you guys have the same favorite movie. You probably coyly smile and let out a carefree giggle, eyes sparkling. It’s all very magical.
“Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
I’m sure we can spin this song a thousand different ways but I just think Eartha Kitt is a woman who knows what’s up in this song. She’s charmingly demanding and entitled. I think you’re lying to yourself if you’ve never wanted to get everything you ask for in life. She asks for a fur coat, jewelry, cars and just flat out checks. Even if it’s like he only gets her one thing off her list, she’s chilling. Hard.
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by the Beach Boys
This is just one of those songs you listen to and you realize, “Oh, wow, that is the most beautiful harmonizing possibly ever.”
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra
Oh, Frank. So robust and so calming. The night is winding down, the couches are clearing and the conversations quieting. People have finished their hot toddies and have started hugging a lot. This is a song for huggers, just pulling someone in close and being grateful for their presence in your life.
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
Ha! I bet you thought I forgot. Hell no I didn’t! If you do not have this on your list– no matter the theme– you are basically committing crimes against Christmas. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is arguably the best Christmas song of all time, and maybe even just one of the best songs of all time. Everyone loves this song. Every single one of our moms had this and had it on blast. You could not be alive in the nineties and not love this song. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” has everything you want. It has an infectious beat, wonderful orchestration, remarkable lyrics and Mariah. You just don’t get songs like this any more. Cherish it, my friends. You only have it for a good month, maybe two, before you have to go a whole year without it.
Well, those are my favorites, I hope they’re some of yours too. If you’d like, you can even listen to the mix in its entirety on 8Tracks.com.
What are your Christmas playlist musts? Tell us in the comments so we can all have the best holiday mixes this year.
[Photo via Life As A Thrifter]