My Christmas spirit has a brief window. It awakens a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving and goes back to sleep shortly after New Year's Day. And it's during this window that I engage in certain Christmas traditions - decorating the tree, buying and wrapping presents, drinking Egg Nog (the nectar of the Gods), and, yes, listening to Christmas music. So here, in no particular order, are the 10 songs I love to hear, and the 5 that I dread hearing every year.
10) "Happy Xmas (War is Over)"
One of the things I look for in a Christmas song isn't necessarily how "Christmas-y" it sounds (as will become apparent). Instead, I'm drawn to songs I would probably like if even if they had nothing to do with Christmas. This is one of those songs. It might actually be my favorite John Lennon song.
9) "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)"
Alvin trolls his own Christmas song, and keeps his eye on the prize (he just wants a Hula Hoop). I can respect that.
8) "Silent Night"
I'm not even a little religious, but I'm weirdly idealistic, which explains this choice. It's a beautiful song, and encapsulates what I would like to like about religion (if that makes any sense).
7) "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Most of the time Frank Sinatra is just a bit too Frank Sinatra for me. He belts out tunes and it's just a little too much. This is the exception, because his level of enthusiasm is perfect for the spirit of Christmas. Plus, I like that it's not a request, and Frank would probably mess you up if you didn't comply.
6) "Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth)"
Well, first of all, it's David Bowie, and any list I can include him on is a given. And there's something about the faux-friendly interaction that turns into what feels like genuine bonding during the song that hits me where my feelings would be (were I not a robot).
5) "Jingle Bell Rock"
I've been so ruined by the "Jingle bells/Batman smells/Robin laid an egg" version of "Jingle Bells" that I can't remember what the original is supposed to sound like. This is my go to substitute. It helps that it's a bell-based song that isn't just descriptive ("Silver Bells") and isn't asking me to enjoy being outside in the cold ("Sleigh Ride").
4) "Run Rudolph Run"
Okay, so this is basically "Johnny B. Goode" (and "Roll Over, Beethoven") but I like those songs, so...
3) "Christmas in Hollis"
This makes me think of Die Hard and that makes me think of Christmas. No apologies.
2) "Let Me Sleep (It's Christmas Time)"
See my description of "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" and you'll know why I love this song. It's a great Pearl Jam song, and they're one of my favorite bands.
1) "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas"
Okay, yes, this song makes me feel things (and the visuals help). But it's also a fantastic takedown of one of the songs on my OTHER list, so it works in that way, too.
And the rest...
5) "O Christmas Tree/O Tannenbaum"
I had to learn this song for some Christmas thing when I was a kid, which meant I had to sing it A LOT during rehearsals. And I didn't like the song to begin with.
4) "Feliz Navidad"
Similarly, I used to work at a restaurant called Chi-Chi's, and as a Mexican restaurant chain, they played the hell out of this song. And it's just aggressively cheerful in ways that annoy me.
3) "Santa Baby"
Christmas songs shouldn't make me feel unironically dirty. Sexy Christmas songs are just a weird subgenre, and I'm not here for that.
2) "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
Similar to the above, I don't want to hear about Mommy kissing anyone on Christmas, especially not Santa. Also, I'm holding a grudge because it took me way too long to realize that "Santa" in this song is meant to be the father dressed as Santa Claus. I don't like being tricked at Christmas.
1) "Wonderful Christmastime"
Just as Lennon's Christmas song is everything I like about John Lennon, this song is everything I hate about Paul McCartney. It's aggressively cheerful, the definition of trite, and infectiously (in the bad way) catchy.