Keep the cheer, cut the cheesy: A non-conventional playlist for the holidays

Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

Each year, people turn on their holiday playlists, but it’s easy to hear the same songs over and over again. To avoid holiday music burnout, here is a list of Christmas songs you may want to add to your playlist. Here’s to a great holiday season and varied playlists!

“‘Zat You, Santa Claus?” – Louis Armstrong

If you like old-school classics, this holiday tune is perfect for you, as the saxophone and bass give off a vintage Christmas vibe. The instruments, coupled with Louis Armstrong’s warm voice, make for a wonderful introduction to “‘Zat You, Santa Claus?” This song is reminiscent of the Walgreens Christmas commercial where the parents ate the cookies that their child made for Santa.

“Happy Xmas (War is Over)” – John Lennon, Yoko Ono

In the typical fashion of John Lennon, this song is not your average Christmas song. Lennon and Yoko Ono represent the counterculture of the late 1960s and the early 1970s, in protest of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Aside from the context, the vocals in this song blend well together, which provides the song with a Christmas-y tune.

“Merry Christmas” – Ed Sheeran and Elton John

What’s better than one talented artist singing a song? Two very-talented artists. Ed Sheeran and Elton John’s “Merry Christmas” is a sweet song with the best of the holidays. Reuniting for the holidays is emphasized throughout the song. The aesthetically pleasing album cover features John’s signature sunglasses and Sheeran’s “equal” sweater, referencing his “Equals” album and proving that quality and quantity can live in perfect harmony.

“Ding Dong, Ding Dong” – George Harrison

George Harrison’s “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” is all about welcoming the new year. Though this is one of Harrison’s more underrated works, it reflects his reputation as the “quiet Beatle,” possessing a great deal of talent you won’t easily spot. This New Year’s song is very in the moment and is similar to Harrison’s other enjoyable works, like “Cheer Down” and “Crackerbox Palace.”

“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” – Dean Martin

The best-known Christmas song performed by Dean Martin is “Let It Snow,” but “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” rivals it. The descriptions of love and winter provide listeners with a great deal of warmth. After listening to this song, your heart, like Martin’s in the song, will be “on fire.” This song is what should play while eating cookies and drinking hot cocoa.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” represents the giving spirit of the holidays. The BBC’s report of a famine in Ethiopia in 1984 inspired Band Aid to write this song. After it became a hit, Band Aid successfully raised money for the Ethiopian famine. When thinking of the holidays, we often think of wishlists and the cold weather — “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” reminds listeners to give back to our world, especially to those in need.

“Extraordinary Merry Christmas” – Glee Cast

This Glee classic is missing from many holiday playlists without reason. As soon as “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” plays, you’ll remember the lyrics. The catchy tune and optimistic lyrics are exactly what we need this holiday season. The jingle bells ringing in the background will likely remind you of another classic, “The Polar Express.” Fair warning, you may want to watch the episode where Rachel and Blaine sing this song (Season 3, Episode 9).

“Like It’s Christmas” – Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers’ comeback in 2019 was a pleasant surprise. If you haven’t heard “Like It’s Christmas,” you’ll love it as much as you loved the idea of their reunion three years ago. The romantic undertones, sleigh bells and mention of Central Park make for a satisfying song. If it sounds familiar, the Jonas Brothers perform this song in Netflix’s “Dash and Lily” shortly before the main characters meet at the Strand Book Store.

“Christmas Tree Farm” – Taylor Swift

Modern, refreshing and a perfect escape are three ways to describe Taylor Swift’s “Christmas Tree Farm.” The song starts off by mentioning the stress of the holidays, then listeners are transported to a perfect holiday season: a Christmas tree farm. Swift’s voice in this song is very Christmas-y, like a champagne-colored Christmas tree ornament. “Christmas Tree Farm” treasures the best of the holidays, where everything is “icy and blue.”

“River” – Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell’s “River,” recorded in 1971, opens with the chords of popular song “Jingle Bells.” While this song is set during Christmastime, it’s less about the holiday season and more about the process of grieving a failed relationship. The iconic song has been covered by artists like Ellie Goulding, Olivia Rodrigo and Sam Smith. For an extra heartbreaking version, listen to Ben Platt’s cover of this song performed in the 2019 Netflix series “The Politician.”