When you celebrate Christmas, you can only put so much Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole on your playlist. What you need is a mix of classic and progressive. From the old-school stylings of Chuck Berry to the modern chords of She & Him, here are 12 fantastic tracks to get you started. Bonus! Click below to listen to the playlist on Made Man's Spotify:
"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses You likely remember The Waitresses for their hit song “I Know What Boys Like.” “Christmas Wrapping” is far less annoying, and the holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without this light, poppy new wave gem. What’s more, ladies love it, so you won’t need to rely on mistletoe to get a smooch or two.
"Christmas In Hollis" by Run-DMC Run-DMC brings a bit of hood into the holidays but does so with a sense of fun and playfulness. The song recalls a simpler time in hip-hop when the beats were more lo-fi, the word play smarter, the melodies catchier and the scratching... well, there. Remember the days of Air Jordans, Kangol hats and these guys at the top of the rap charts.
"Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley Elvis cut a lot of Christmas-themed songs, but this one was his best. You can just about see his lip quiver every time you hear his voice on this track. A more accessible pop song, it nevertheless includes all the raw, masculine sexuality you’ve come to expect from Elvis. There’s a reason they call him The King, gents.
"Run Rudolph Run" by Chuck Berry Chuck Berry might have been the first person to realize that Christmas music didn’t have to be totally boring. This rocking little number is every bit as enjoyable as it was over 50 years ago when it first came out. Hear why even though he’s well into his eighties, Chuck Berry is still rocking houses all around the U.S.
"All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey You might hate this song, but the girls at your party are going to freak out over it. Then you can pretend you’ve always liked it a lot. You’ll be the talk of ladies’ trips to the bathroom all night.
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Dean Martin Only Dino can make a song about a man cajoling a woman not to leave his apartment because “it’s cold outside.” You might catch a kidnapping charge if you went at it with the same persistence as he does. And yet she finally gives in at the end. That’s just how smooth Dean Martin was, even after a day of drinking nothing but martinis and eating nothing but Kents.
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by She & Him M. Ward's jazzy, reverb-laden guitar provides a low-key backdrop to the breathy vocals of Zooey Deschanel. It's not for everyone, but it's perfect for the quieter moments of a party, and who knows, that indie chick you've been eyeing just might melt when she hears it.
"Father Christmas" by The Kinks It’s such a catchy tune that none of your guests will realize that it’s an incredibly dark take on Christmas. A gang of poor children beat up a man dressed as Santa Claus. They don’t want toys—they want money and jobs for their fathers. It sounds a little silly until you realize that there are actually gangs of grubby little kids who wouldn’t think twice about jumping Santa in the land of limeys.
"Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues Speaking of dark takes, there’s this little gem by Irish folk-punk band The Pogues. It’s just about the only Christmas song with the phrase “You’re an old slut on junk” in it. Still, it’s got a sweet sort of poignancy to it as two losers talk about their undying love for one another. This is the closest the world has ever come to a holiday song written by Charles Bukowski.
"Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade While they never amounted to much stateside, Slade was just about the biggest rock group in the UK for most of the 1970s. If you have any English friends they might be running for the door, as this song gets played about every ten seconds in British malls this time of year. Still, your American friends will be rocking out and asking you who the heck these guys are.
"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" by Alvin & The Chipmunks Don’t front like you’re too good for this song. A couple spins of this track and you’ll instantly be transported back to being a little kid in your footie pajamas, waking your parents up at 4:30 a.m. to open all your presents. Including, hopefully, a huuula hoop.
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir This song reminds you that Christmas should be about more than just gifts, drinking or even spending time with your loved ones. It’s also the perfect time to make the world a better place. One listen to John and Yoko and friends and you’ll be running down to the local Toys For Tots and signing over half of your Christmas bonus.
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