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TRA LA LAND — The mere mention of Christmas music likely puts either a chill in your spine or a spring in your step.
I’m a Christmas music lover myself, but if a single note of “Jingle Bells” sends you into fits of shouting “bah humbug” at strangers and loved ones alike, I don’t blame you. Between the radio and the Muzak pumped into every store, we hear the same versions of the same songs over and over again, year after year. That repetition can drive even the most ardent Christmas music lover to break their radio.
But ‘tis the season of hope! There are Christmas songs out there that you may not have heard and versions of old favorites that may be new to you. Believe it or not, there are people out there writing great new Christmas songs that have nothing to do with Christmas shoes or auto tuning.
This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it guaranteed to have something you love on it, but rather it gives you a taste of what is out there if you dig a little past the status quo.
You’ve heard Bing Crosby croon “White Christmas” until your brain feels numb, but how about the jaunty "Christmas is A-Comin’ “? It’s a bit silly and filled with Bing’s special form of jargon (the egg is in the nog?), but it’s definitely fresh.
Brenda Lee generally lends an upbeat swing to your Christmas collection. Her voice might not be for everyone, but “Papa Noel” is a charming song about Christmas in the bayou.
You may be sick of Gene Autry singing about a snowman named Frosty and a reindeer named Rudolph, but his album “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Other Christmas Classics” is chalk-full of delightful ditties like “ ’Round ‘Round the Christmas Tree” and “The Night Before Christmas (In Texas, That Is).”
I don’t know much about the Gospel and R&B scene in 1948, but the vivacity of Mabel Scott’s “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” is a welcome addition to my holiday music collection.
As a Beach Boys fan, I was thrilled to stumble across their Christmas album a few years ago. However, I was not so thrilled with the actual album content. “The Man with All the Toys” is a fantastic exception.
Even Willie Nelson does Christmas with “Pretty Paper.”
For the past few years, The Killers have released a new Christmas song with the profits going to charity. You may have seen the video of their efforts this year called “Christmas in L.A.” featuring Owen Wilson.
A little twangy and folksy, the Indigo Girls may elicit a little foot stomping with “I Feel the Christmas Spirit.” Never underestimate the power of a banjo.
Zee Avi has a more laid back sound if you prefer a groove over a foot stomp. “No Christmas for Me” is makes for a mellow Christmas listen.
“All that I Want” by The Weepies is a sweet indie ditty that will satisfy a ken for Christmas without much of a departure from the indie norm.
Think Winter, Not Christmas
If you still feel antagonized by Christmas songs, you can participate in the sounds of the season by seeking out songs to do with winter rather than Christmas. To help you get started, try “Winter Weather” by Fats Waller, “Winter’s Come and Gone” by Gillian Welch, “There Is Frost on the Moon” by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra and “Winter Swell Blues” by Paula Fuga.
All songs are available for purchase on iTunes.