Same holidays, better music

As we approach Christmas, the classic signs of the season will start to come out of the woodwork. Classic red cups have already popped up at every coffee shop and it seems as if everything from coffee creamer to breakfast cereal can now be found in gingerbread and peppermint varieties for the holidays.

For most of us, Christmas music will also infiltrate our playlists and ears in the coming days. Some criminals may have even dusted off their Mariah Carey albums as soon as Halloween ended, but the coming of December ensures we will all have sleigh bells and familiar tunes stuck in our heads.

Part of what makes the holiday season so endearing is the hardline commitment to a very specific set of songs. Since birth, many of us have been force-fed a steady diet of “White Christmas” and “Up on the Housetop,” and some of the according charm wears off over time.

This is not all to say that Christmas music is bad. There are, however, a pleasant bunch of less-heralded songs that deserve your ears this upcoming holiday season in between “All I Want for Christmas is You”

“A Great Big Sled” – The Killers

The Killers have released a truly bizarre collection of holiday-themed singles over the course of the past decade, and the combination of their unique sound with tinseled themes is an entertaining cross. “A Great Big Sled” is the best version of this balance, featuring plenty of The Killers’ early-career bombast alongside some traditionally festive and quotable lines. The chorus hits all the right notes for the jaded populace that fits within the band’s audience: “I wanna roll around like a kid in the snow, I wanna relearn what I already know. Just let me take flight dressed in red, through the night on a great big sled.”

Jonah Baker | Argonaut

A special mention also has to be given to “Don’t shoot me Santa,” a rollicking anthem that even features the band’s tour manager as the voice of a vengeful Santa Claus. Although not necessarily wholesome family fun, this one works well with off-kilter friends.

“Everyday is Christmas” – Sia

Sia has a well-earned reputation of somewhat bizarre creative tendencies, and plenty of musical genius comes from her very original approaches. That creativity collided with plenty of silver bells in her 2017 Christmas album, and “Everyday is Christmas” is undoubtedly the most Sia and one of the most festive.

Like many other holiday love songs, the more comfortable aspects of the season are interplayed with warmer tones of devotion. And, unlike many Christmas songs of old, there is a relieving lack of controlling and aggressive behavior. There are many other saccharine tunes in Sia’s album, but not even “Puppies Are Forever” can quite match what “Everyday is Christmas” brings to the table. Although I am sure that Sia understands that not everyday can be Christmas, her art could almost convince the listener otherwise.

“Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas)” – Spongebob Squarepants

Perhaps the closest to a modern classic on the list, “Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas)” is the message we all need this holiday season. The lyrics are a nearly perfect how-to list of how to make everyone’s lives a little easier during the most hectic time of the year. From turn signals to express checkout etiquette and even proper toothpaste application, there is almost no end to Spongebob’s wisdom for the holidays in this song. Combine that with the most recognizable voice in cartoons, and you have one of the best holiday songs that everyone needs to hear. And following the passing of creator Stephen Hillenburg, there may be no better encapsulation of a truly iconic and well-meaning artist than this particular song.

For every classic holiday hit that comes through the radio for the 10th time that day, there are dozens of other songs from beloved artists. Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of wonderful holiday music beyond the culturally accepted curriculum of Mariah Carey and absolutely nothing else from the 21st Century.

Jonah Baker can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @jonahpbaker

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