I love Christmas music.
I’m sure that’s partly due to the fact that when I grew up, it was so exclusive to a certain time of year. I’m still protective of it and try to only listen to it from the day after Thanksgiving until a few days post-Christmas. Christmas music evokes a ton of nostalgia for Christmases past.
But, let’s be honest, by mid-December, even if we’ve tried not to overdo it, sometimes we just need to freshen up our tried-and-true playlists.
Discovering New Christmas Music
Last year, I came across a cool channel on our AppleTV radio and discovered a whole new world of remixed Christmas songs and ended up down a New-To-Me-Christmas-Music rabbit hole.
Now, I don’t want to take anything away from the originals, or the ‘new’ hits (has it really been 29 [!!] years since “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was released?!!) I love the originals that I grew up with (see reference to nostalgia, above), but I do like to mix it up, and try new things. Even if it’s old things, remixed.
With that in mind, I created several Christmas playlists on Spotify for different moods: lounge, retro, funky and remix, just to name a few – seriously — I have an obnoxious number of Christmas playlists. I know I could just link to those playlists, but I’ll admit, they are a bit messy (I got lazy in a couple of cases and moved entire albums into playlists, rather than just the relevant songs), and I’m still cleaning them up. Also, not everyone has Spotify, so this seems more accessible for the masses. Or, at least, the eclectic masses.
So grab your hat and prepare to have your Christmas music mixed up. Many of them are fun, funky, chilled-out remixes of old classics. Several are completely new arrangements. And sprinkled amongst those, are straight-up original songs.
You might not enjoy them all, but you gotta admit: mixing it up is fun!
24 Christmas Albums That’ll Shake Up Your Christmas Playlists:
Merry Mixmas – Christmas Classics Remixed: cool remixes of Christmas classics. A few of my favorites are “The Merriest“, “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas“
Beckah Shae – Emmanuel: From the first moment I heard it, “Most Beautiful Time of the Year” instantly became of new favorite of mine – jazzy and fun, as is her “Christmas Love“. And “Merry Christmas Baby” is just flat out fun.
Annie Lennox – A Christmas Cornucopia: Annie has one of my all-time favorite voices, and her lush vocals do these Christmas classics justice. Her voice is especially strong on “The Holly and the Ivy” and the harmonization on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” recalls her signature early-Eurythmics sound (eg: the “1984” soundtrack.)
Family Force 5 – Christmas Pageant: This album, as a whole, is one of my favorites, and the songs that I love, I REALLY love: “It’s Christmas Day” — captures the feeling of the season so well. A few other favs: “Carol of the Bells“, “Christmas Time is Here” (a great, upbeat version, befitting the lyrics), “Wonderful Christmas Time” (one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs – and they didn’t ruin it!) and “The Baby“.
Enya – And Winter Came: “White is in The Winter Night“, a festive song, harkens to the vocals that originally drew me to Enya’s music. “Oíche Chiúin“, the Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) version of Silent Night, is as ethereal as ever. My! My! Time Flies“, may not be the most Christmas-y song, lyrics-wise, but it’s befitting for the end of the year, as we approach New Year’s and the nostalgia and reflection it evokes.
Verve/Remixed Christmas: Another ‘classics, remixed’, this is hands down, one of my favorites. Annie Lennox’s version of “Winter Wonderland” is hard to beat, but the Christian Prommer remix of Shirley Horn’s version always makes me move and feel happy! And just try to sit still when you listen to the reggae-style remix of “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm“, or the Brazilian Girls festive sounding “Silent Night“.
Sting – If On A Winter’s Night…: Based on the novel If on a winter’s night a traveller by Italo Calvino, most of songs have an old-world feel and, though it includes Sting’s “A Very Special Christmas“‘s “Gabriel’s Message” most were ‘new to me’. I’ll admit, the first time I heard “Soul Cakes“, I repeated it at least a half-dozen times – it’s the one foot-tapping song, on an, otherwise, mellow album.
Reindeer Room – volumes 1, 2 and 3: This is a series of albums, and I thought about including each one – they are all a bit different and worthy of their own comments. The entire series is definitely very loungy, and hipster-ish, but each song still has its own feel. For example, “Ava Maria” is such a beautiful song, but I get turned off by remakes that are too vocally showy and grandstandish. The remix of it on the Vol. 3 album is jazzy, without being over-the-top. In the end, it just feels powerful and moving.
Jars of Clay – More Christmas Songs EP: a few more excellent songs from Jars of Clay.
Holiday Dance Party – The Christmas Remixes: FUN! That’s how I describe this album. Who knew that “The First Noel” (Attaboy House Party Mix) and “The Christmas Song” (TONAL remix) could be made danceable, without sounding awful!
Christmas Remixed – holiday classics re-grooved: So many of my favorites from my childhood, all wrapped into one, remixed and repacked with a sparkly funky bow. “Jingle Bells – Dan the Automator Remix” is fun and feels so freshly retro! And Andy William’s “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has never sounded more fabulous!
Sara Groves – O Holy Night: Sara has a mellow voice that soothes my soul, no matter what she is singing. On this album, she creates new arrangements for old hymns, making them her own, yet still familiar.
hOMe for the Holidays: A hip feel runs through this entire album, that includes both familiar (“O Christmas Tree“, “Still Still Still”) and original songs (“Songs of the Morning“).
Sufjan Stevens – songs for Christmas: I fell for Sufjan’s music nearly 4 years ago, when I first saw the documentary Babies, that included his fun catchy “The Perpetual Self, or ‘What Would Saul Alinsky do?‘”. His collection of Christmas music is stuffed (42 songs in all) with classics, traditional hymns and songs of his own, such as “Put The Lights On The Tree“.
David Crowder Band – oh for joy: Classic Hymns such as “Angels We Have Heard on High“, “Joy to the World“, “Go Tell it On The Mountain” have never sounded better.
Holiday Lounge – The Christmas Remixes: Lounge-y and fun! “Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” (Red Baron Remix), “Happy Holidays“, and “Jingle Bells” (Rise Ashen’s Reindeer Dub) are example of songs that make me feel as though I am sitting in a hip lounge, sipping a holiday mixer, even if I’m only at home in my pajamas.
Jars of Clay – Christmas Songs: Although this album isn’t new, I’m continually amazed by the number of people who have never heard of or listened to this excellent album. I’ve been a Jars of Clay fan since their first album, and their Christmas music is just as experimental and layered as anything they’ve ever written. “Love Came Down at Christmas” is the embodiment of the season, in my opinion. “Hibernation Day” is such a sweet song, and one I can totally relate to. And their version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is one of the most unique remakes I’ve heard, without losing the feeling of the song.
The Civil Wars – Tracks in the Snow: 2 songs. That’s it. Both are amazing and beautiful. Enough said.
Christmas Remixed 2: Some of the same remixes appear on Holiday Lounge (above), but there is other variety included – all classic vocals, with grooved up music. Even “Frosty the Snowman” gets a much needed mix up.
Christmas Regrooved: more fun, upbeat versions of traditional songs. Admittedly, their version of “Carol of the Bells” is pretty out-there, but it’s the only one I’d skip.
The Good Lovelies – Under The Mistletoe: Beautiful lush harmonies from a folk trio… I’m reminded of the various harmonizing sister groups from the 40s and 50s as I listen. An enjoyable album, filled with familiar classics.
Bebo Norman – Christmas from the Realms of Glory: prepare to relax. Nice, not overly done, vocals, on an album filled with classics.
Reliant K – Let it snow baby… Let it reindeer: How fun is that album title? And the album is just as fun, with a mix of slow and upbeat songs.
TobyMac – Christmas in Diverse City: This entire album is a big hit in our home. It includes many original songs (“Birth of Love” is a favorite), but includes fantastic new and unique arrangements of old classics, like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Drummer Boy‘).
I know I’ve left a lot off this list (I had to end it somewhere!) – but I’d love to know: What are your favorite Christmas albums?
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