Seven songs of Christmas: a holiday soundtrack

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The holidays are around the corner and with that comes Christmas. There is a lot to say about this festivity. On the one hand Christmas can be materialistic, commercialized, boring and a disappointment (last year I heard someone say that they did not like Christmas because they did not like their family). Not to forget that Christmas is a celebration that oftentimes cannot be escaped; it’s everywhere. It’s seen as the norm, and people who do not (because of their religion), or cannot (perhaps because of lack of family or money) celebrate it just have to live in a world were an entire month (if not two to three) is dedicated to this holiday.

Having said all of this, Christmas can also be magical. Gifts aren’t at all bad to receive, and maybe you actually enjoy spending time around your family. Christmas might be everywhere, but its decorations and ornaments are beautifully displayed and you don’t necessarily have to celebrate along to appreciate them. One of the things that I’m very excited about when it comes to Christmas (and the whole month of December, actually) is that it is finally socially acceptable to listen to Christmas songs! That’s why I have created a list of seven songs to listen to during these long, cold and wintry nights.

  1. Danny Elfman – What’s this? (from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Apart from being a great film, the soundtrack from Tim Burton’s movie The Nightmare Before Christmas is also pretty good. This particular song could be considered ‘anti-Christmas’ at the beginning, as Jack from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas has a hard time understanding the essence of Christmas. “There are children throwing snowballs/ instead of throwing heads/ They’re busy building toys/ And absolutely no one’s dead/ There’s frost on every window/ I can’t believe my eyes/ And in my bones I feel a warmth/ That’s coming from inside”.  Although the main character struggles to warm up to the idea of Christmas, he eventually grasps the essence of it, and at the end the lyrics convey a very sweet message. I also thought it was quite fitting that the singers’ last name is Elfman.

  1. Tchaikovsky – Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy (suite from the ballet The Nutcracker)

Despite being overplayed every Christmas, Tchaikovsky’s co*mpositions are still a classic part of the Christmas tradition. Have a closer look at Christmas movies and commercials and you’ll notice that his work is still being used a lot. The raindrop-like sound in this particular song always reminds me of a child tip toeing in the dark to steal some cookies – this is probably not a coincidence as ballerinas dance to this song in the ballet The Nutcracker (ballerinas wear pointe shoes, which allow them to stand on their toes).

  1. Del Vetts – I want a boy for Christmas

The cold weather can make the holidays a bit gloomy, but they don’t have to be. If you want to have a dance party, then you should listen to this cheerful song by Del Vetts. Their song is also part of Kubrick’s film soundtrack “Eyes Wide Shut” (which is another movie that takes place during Christmas time, but maybe not a traditional family film!). This song is reminiscent of 1950’s rock, and its lyrics are playful and catchy: “Santa Claus please hear my plea/ just one present bring to me/ I want a boy for Christmas/ put it underneath my Christmas tree/ I want a boy who can shimmy, and a boy who can twist”.

  1. Queen – Thank God It’s Christmas

This is an upbeat 80’s rock song with Christmas lyrics. I like this song because it doesn’t sound old-fashioned, and Queen makes the Christmas time sound like the best day on earth: “Thank God it’s Christmas/ For one night/[…] Can it be Christmas/ Let it be Christmas every day”. It’s also very interesting that the title thanks God for Christmas because this engages religion, which some believe Christmas is really about.

  1. Mariah Carey – O Holy Night

What is Christmas without Mariah Carey’s soulful vocals, right? She made a whole album (Merry Christmas) dedicated to this holiday. This song originates from a carol from the 19th century, and has been reproduced by many singers, but Mariah’s overachieving voice makes this song stand out from all the other renditions.

  1. Snoop Dogg – Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto

Snoop Dogg’s lyrics in this song are cleverly constructed and (perhaps surprisingly to some) quite meaningful. The rapper touches upon important themes like poverty, religion and consumerism during his song. “Tell me, tell me, where do the homies and/ bums got to sleep? Nowhere/ Where do hungry and the needy-greedy’s got to eat? But who cares?”.

  1. Vince Guaraldi Trio – O Tannenbaum

Last, but not least, I included the jazzy rendition of O Tannenbaum by Vince Guaraldi Trio for A Charlie Brown Christmas. This familiar instrumental song sounds very relaxing and is great for background music at night.

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