Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Carols

If you're at all like me you kind of despise traditional Christmas music for the most part. These trite, out of fashion tunes have about as much in common with our modern society as Leave it to Beaver reruns. I mean, when is the last time you were pulled by a one horse sleigh (hey!) or roasted chestnuts on an open fire? If you were to write a modern Christmas classic it would need lyrics that evoked waiting in line at Best Buy or being violated while going through security at the airport. Yet, for all my cynicism, I still occasionally find myself humming along to "Winter Wonderland" or "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" every time it snows. So just in case you find yourself curiously in need of Christmas schmaltz this holiday season, here are five Christmas albums that don't suck.

Sufjan Stevens - Presents Songs for Christmas
Just in case you like sincerity and irony in equal doses. The God-fearing Sufjan seems very much at home singing tunes like "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" while swelling symphonies accompany his heavenly voice but it's hard not to hear a little hipster distance in the delivery.

The Beach Boys - Christmas with the Beach Boys
I had this album growing up and I'll never forget getting the chills whenever I heard their eerie rendition of "We Three Kings of Orient Are." Truth be told, I still do.

The Chipmunks - Christmas with the Chipmunks
If you're going to get carried away with the Christmas spirit then you might as well go all out. Nothing reminds me more of the giddiness I felt as a child around this time of year then when I hear "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas don't be late)."

Bob Dylan - Sings Your Holiday Favorites
You know that uncle that has always creeped you out a little? Imagine if he got drunk at the family reunion and started belting out holy tunes in his most gravelly, unholy voice. You'd try hard not to stare but in the end, you'd be captivated. That what this album is like.

Charlie Brown - A Charlie Brown Christmas with the Vince Guarldi Trio
Lets face it. Something about Christmas is a little bit sad too. Maybe it's the let down after all the presents are opened or when you find out that there is no such thing as a magical man who travels the world bringing gifts to children. Maybe it's the fact that when everyone else in the world seems so happy, your own problems seem amplified. Vince Guarldi's hip jazz score rocks out at times like Snoopy doing a jigg on his doghouse but it also captures the melancholy we can all feel around this time of year when life pulls the football away just before you were going to kick it.


  1. Wait a minute... Dude are you saying there's no such thing as Santa? Cuz I think that's what you're saying?

  2. I think I already posted this to a comment, but thought I would do it again since it seems so appropriate for this awesome posting...This is the equivelent of this list, Jewish style, with "Not your Bubby's Hannukah Music". Check it out: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/15/not-your-bubbys-hanukkah-music-the-new-jewish-music-scene/?hpw

  3. P.S. The article I just posted to the last comment also mentions a really cool band-Golem. Travis and I saw them open for the Walkmen.

  4. Don't forget "A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector." It is the awesomest.


  5. "The Boss" does Christmas too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  6. I'm super-stoked to check out the Phil Spector Christmas!