It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas
RIYL: Spiking eggnog, rigging white elephant gift exchanges, dodging mistletoe
The holiday season has arrived, which means something a bit different to everyone. For some, it encourages time with friends and family; for others it is a time for honoring the memories of loved ones no longer with us; and for many, it means surviving the stress of the season with some comic relief — and a hearty helping of libations. As different as those experiences are, there is a holiday song for each.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of original holiday songs that runs the gamut from the nostalgic and sublime to tongue-in-cheek wit. So grab a mug of hot peppermint cocoa — or, better yet, an egg nog heavily laced with brandy and find the perfect holiday song to soundtrack your season.
This soulful tune has all the makings of a Christmas classic. It starts off with a sweet, soft intro before launching into a toe-tapping celebratory romp. The romantic number reminds us that, in addition to the traditions of the holiday, we should all be so lucky to have the best part of Christmas: a loved one to wake up to.
OT is currently selling the single for $1 (or more if you’re so inclined) with all proceeds being donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego. Another important part of the season: giving back.
Full disclosure: I am possibly biased in my love for this song, as my significant other is 1/3 of Old Tiger.
This fun-loving number rings true with those of us on the left coast. The song celebrates our winter weather-lacking wonderland with a video featuring a sun-tanning, botoxing, beach-frolicking Santa Claus. The upbeat pop ditty is reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Christmastime is Here Again” — which makes sense as KW’s lead singer moonlights as John Lennon in Britain’s Finest, a Beatles tribute band.
“A Drama-Free Xmas” by Joanie Mendenhall
Single | Self-recorded | Self-released | Self-produced | 2011
Mendenhall’s sweet voice and this doo-wop-tinged song articulate what many of us feel this time of year as we cross our fingers for an unspoiled family gathering. Medenhall’s fast-paced, yet melodic rant at two minutes in will have us love-haters of the holidays nodding along and raising a glass to toast someone who gets how we’re feeling — and put it in a catchy song.
“Gone Away Bluebird” by Jesse Lee Hofbauer of The Paragraphs and Brando and Tori Rogg of Wolf Prize
Single | Recorded at and released by Lost Ark Studio | Produced and mixed by Mike Butler at Lost Ark Studio | Mastered by Jamal Ruhe at West West Side Music | 2012 | Download
This powerful duet is described by Hofbauer as, “an ode to the ghosts of loved ones around the holiday season.” The mournful tones of both singers convey the sullen feelings so many share during the season when we are reminded of those who can’t join us in earthly celebrations. As spellbinding as the two musicians sound together, it’s even more magical to know this song was recorded in just one take with a single microphone with the two facing each other in a dark room. Hofbauer surmises: “lots of heat.”
Another warm tune full of merriment comes from Las Vegas band Rusty Maples. Though a dark figure in holiday lore, Krampus seems light-hearted thanks to this RM take — even as they sing, “take our children.” Their clever and whimsical Christmas song stays in the pop-Americana-folk vein the band does so well.
One of my favorite L.A. bands takes a somber stab at the season with this one. Like many of their other songs, this one feels fit for movies or television. It has a big theatrical quality, yet it’s earnest and tugs on the heart strings. Singer Andrew Carroll’s vocals are soaked in sincerity as he sings biting lines like “holidays are comin’ to rip your heart open.” The song features a sleek guitar solo by Andrew Schneider, a welcome signature of the band. Fans take note: LW is slated to release a new album in just a few months.
Blending a garage rock edge with syrupy sweet vocals, this saucy song is a charming homage to those on the naughty list. The tune is reminiscent of cheeky holiday rock favorites like “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses. Though it was released last Christmas, the track — and the band — have only endeared themselves more into the hearts of San Diego fans since. Their recently released EP “Beach in her Hair” has garnered heaps of praise, and I expect we’ll see and hear lots more from them in the new year.
I said there is a holiday song for everyone, right? For fans of reggae and dub, Super Hi-Fi made an entire album of seasonal selections. Their version of “Auld Lang Syne” has all the pulsating beats and brazen horns one would expect. If The Specials had recorded the traditional New Year’s favorite, this is what I imagine it would have sounded like. The album may be the ideal collection of holiday music for someone who isn’t a fan of such things.
Hope you found some musical matches for your season here! Happy Holidays from TourWorthy.com!
Jen Van Tieghem is a San Diego native with a healthy obsession for all things local music. She has been covering indie-alternative, folk-rock, and more — sometimes all within one night — around town for years. Her bucket list includes playing tambourine on stage with any band that would have her, creating a local music festival called Jenerated Sound, and finding the perfect moscow mule. Email her at Jen@SoundsinSanDiego.com.
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