I can’t take it anymore. Mariah Carey and her ubiquitous rendition of “All I want for Christmas Is You” has coated every cubic inch of my brain with holiday sap. If you are reading this, it’s because I’ve melted into a puddle of sticky, red and green holiday goo. My last wish before Mariah’s soul-stealing holiday onslaught turns my body into a peppermint-scented jelly is to offer a list of potential civilization-saving holiday tunes we can rally around in protest. We unite as a nation of music lovers to protest against overplayed, overproduced and overly sappy Top 40 holiday songs.
There has got to be a better way to survive between the months of November and January when many radio stations, retail outlets and doctors offices force-feed our collective music-holes with holiday schlock. Our only hope is to dig deep into our collective consciousness to find great, underrated, unplayed, unheard holiday tunes that might serve to protect us from Mariah.
We start with Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans – The Bells Of St. Mary, 1963. Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You” is a deep cut and this tune really captures the soul of Christmas in the early 60’s. Although still a bit overwrought on production (Phil Spector), it’s a great deep cut and represents holiday music I wish we heard more of.
While we Michiganders remain just a rowboat’s journey away from Canada, it’s our many neighbors to the south that provide me with Christmas Cheer in musical form. Hacia Belén Va una Burra Rin Rin , a traditional Spanish-language Christmas song especially popular with children brings out a sense of wonder that is decidedly not lost in translation. I dare you to try and sit still during this all-grown-up version by Gaby Moreno- the Latin Chart-topping Guatemalan singer-songwriter perhaps best known in the USA for her NPR Tiny Desk concert.
I don’t think there is an ass-kicker better prepared to take down Mariah’s monopoly on our holiday soul than Loretta Lynn. “To Heck With Ole Santa Claus”. This song really captures my frustration with the holidays. To heck with it.
We end with Michigan-native Sufjan Stevens. His rendition of I Saw Three Ships is a great endcap for this rant. I’m usually not a huge fan of sleigh bells, but I think Sufjan found a nice balance with this tune. I find hope in this song. I find hope that quality holiday music is only a click away. I find hope in this song that we can find the same merry, uplifting, holiday cheer in other, lesser-known holiday songs.
I’m not arguing that we eliminate holiday favorites (although I wouldn’t be the least bit upset if I never heard “All I Want for Christmas Is You” ever again). I appeal to our collective musical soul to proclaim that there are other songs than the 20 or so songs we hear ad nauseum.