The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Eric Christenson’s Top Ten Holiday Songs

The holiday season is fast approaching and unless you are blissfully unaware or you don’t have ears, you’d know that many-a-radio station have started their non-stop loop of all things winter, holiday, Christmas, chestnuts, Rudolph, marshmallows, trees, stockings, elves, Santa and frankly, it’s pretty tiring.

Granted you get the occasional gem every hour or so, but truthfully, it’s easy to get weary of most of the carols and holiday singles being beaten to death on the radio.

So if you’re like me and can only take so much Trans-Siberian Orchestra before your head explodes, I’d like to make it a little easier on you by presenting my list of my top ten Christmas songs that you will never get sick of and will keep your heart warm with holiday cheer throughout the holiday season … unless somebody throws a snowball at you. In that event, I give you permission to hit pause and retaliate.

10. “No Christmas While I’m Talking” by The Walkmen

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While this isn’t necessarily a Christmas song, it definitely has “Christmas” in the title. I’m not wrong about that. Still, it captures the bleakness and the depression that the winter season can sometimes bring. Plus, it’s such a good song; it could be on any playlist, any time of year. Also, The Walkmen did a cover of Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road” for The A.V. Club last week, and that was pretty great too.

9. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams

Nothing gets my holiday heart singing like this classic tune. While I think that Williams is confusing Christmas with camping using lines like “scary ghost stories” and “marshmallows for toasting,” that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy “kids jingle-belling,” “parties for hosting,” and “much mistle-toeing” during your holiday season. Blast this tune at any holiday party and have everyone singing along.

8. “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Julian Casablancas

This song originally debuted on Saturday Night Live a few years ago in a skit that featured Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sans, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan donned in holiday sweaters and blank expressions. The skit was genius (Tracy Morgan didn’t do anything, he just stood there and moved his hips a little bit … comedy gold), but last year, frontman of The Strokes, Julian Casablancas took this song to new heights with a full band arrangement, synths and a song that will stuck in your head and in your holiday playlist forever.

7. “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon

Now, this song I would believe many of you are/could get sick of, but I just don’t think it’s possible for me. The song is so simple with acoustic guitar, a massive string arrangement and tons of voices singing along. With each subtle key change, it reminds you that the holidays truly are a celebration. See Also: “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney (I have a hard time picking one over the other).

6. “Cold White Christmas” by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

This could be a hometown hit for some St. Paul natives, but for everyone else, it’s a sad Christmas song about being poor and lonely in the city around the holidays. Granted, most of the Casiotone for the Painfully Alone songbook is made up of songs about being poor and lonely in the city, but the simplicity and the lo-fi subtlety of his songs are particularly good year-round. Unfortunately, it probably will be a “cold, white Christmas in St. Paul” regardless of how we feel.

5. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Pedro the Lion

Not every Christmas song has to be upbeat and cheery. Pedro the Lion takes this to heart on this tune that isn’t sad necessarily; it’s just slow and beautiful. Leave it to David Bazan to break your heart with a Christmas song. It’s like “Christmas Shoes,” but not awful and the worst.

4. “Auld Lang Syne” by The Beach Boys

Wow, what a song. The Beach Boys take the classic New Year’s hymn and jazz it up with a stunning a cappella arrangement. It’s a fresh take on what is normally a pretty dry tune. So thank you, Beach Boys, for cleaning that up for us. Also, for being perfect.

3. “Just Like Christmas” by Low

This song is not at all representative of a typical Low song, which is fine by me. It’s bright, poppy, catchy and fun, just the way a Christmas song should be.

2. “White Christmas” by The Drifters

I’m a sucker for any version of this song, but none matches The Drifters doo-wopping swing version. Most of you probably recognize this song from the scene in the undeniably perfect holiday film Home Alone where Kevin is singing along into his comb. My mom recognizes this song from some holiday e-card where reindeer are singing it. Whatever your pleasure, it’s the perfect song for any holiday party.

1. “‘Zat You Santa Claus?” by Louis Armstrong and the Commanders

This is my favorite holiday song of all time. There are many that come close … oh so close, but then when I hear Louis’ signature growl and killer horn parts I can’t help but keep this one at the top and that’s all there is to it. Listen, and see why.

So hopefully you now have a taste of some of the better tunes to get your season started right. Or maybe you’re just inspired to find your own favorite holiday classics. Either way, I hope these songs help you have a joyous holiday regardless of what’s playing on the radio.

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Eric Christenson’s Top Ten Holiday Songs