The Beat: 8 Unconventional Holiday Songs for the Holiday Season
Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You was released all the way back in 1994, and personally I have had enough of it. So, instead of playing Jingle Bells and Underneath the Tree on repeat, here are eight unconventional holiday songs you may want to play instead. Perhaps it may be a bit unconventional for me to be putting out this article now that the holiday season is in the past, but feel free to go ahead and start preparing your 2021 holiday playlist.
- See You Again - Tyler, The Creator (feat. Kali Uchis)
This song was in no way made with the intention of being any sort of holiday song, but for me personally, I see it as one. Something about the beautiful orchestral instrumentals on this track give off winter-y vibes and it sounds like the kind of music that one might ice skate to, or perhaps build a snowman. I do think however that it is important for me to point out that this is technically a hip-hop song with some parts that you would absolutely not want to play at a family Christmas dinner. Overall, this song is a classic, whether you associate it with the holidays or not.
- sympathy 4 the grinch - 100 gecs
Sympathy 4 the grinch can best be described as essentially a Santa diss track. 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady sings: “looked under my tree, my box was empty / Santa made an enemy today.” The song is absolutely hilarious and not at all meant to be taken seriously. As the song progresses, the members of 100 gecs continue to sing about their grievances with the old man and then about how they will kidnap him and steal his sleigh. Listening to 100 gecs can take some getting used to for sure, as their high pitched hyper pop sounds are certainly unconventional, but after a few listens of this song you may find yourself singing “Santa’s banging on the back of the truck,” as well.
- HOLIDAY - Lil Nas X
After Lil Nas X’s smash hit Old Town Road, many expected him to simply be a one-hit wonder and disappear, but Nas X (whose real name is Montero in case you were wondering) has made sure that Old Town Road will not be his sole claim to fame. This year, Lil Nas X released HOLIDAY (yes, in all caps), which sticks with his standard style of blending country with hip hop, however this one is certainly more of a hip hop song. Really the only vaguely holiday-related part of this song is where Lil Nas X sings “it's a holiday.” Other than that though, it's pretty much your standard hip hop song. The music video is where we actually get some really good holiday content. In the music video, Lil Nas X dresses up as his take on Santa, driving in a Jeep through a high-tech version of Santa’s workshop. If you even remotely liked Old Town Road or Panini, give this one a listen and watch the video for sure.
- ‘tis the damn season - Taylor Swift
Did you really think I could get through this article without mentioning Taylor Swift? Yeah, no way. Thankfully, Taylor Swift released ANOTHER new album just in time for the holiday season. So many songs off of this album sound like peaceful Christmas carols, but this one stands out because it directly relates to the holiday season. In ‘Tis the damn season, Taylor sings about going home for the holidays and being reunited with an old lover from her hometown. Taylor recognizes that she will end up leaving again, but still says “You could call me babe for the weekend / ‘Tis the damn season / Write this down / I’m staying at my parent’s house / And the road not taken looks real good now.” These lyrics have also made for a hilarious TikTok trend where people will text their exes the lyrics of this song and post their reactions on the app.
- Christmas Song - Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers is known for making somber, quiet songs that bring out sadness and emotion. The other day, I heard someone say that Phoebe Bridgers is “Taylor Swift, but for people with divorced parents,” and that sounds about right to me. In Christmas Song, Phoebe sings not about a cheery or joyful Christmas, but one that is filled with loneliness and stress. She sings about how difficult it is being sad on Christmas because “it’s Christmas, so no one can fix it.” And as the song continues she provides descriptive insights into how sadness can get worse during the holiday season because you are surrounded by people that are only ever happy. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not sure what kind of person would listen to this as a holiday song; it is so incredibly depressing that it would probably ruin my holiday spirit for the entirety of December. Nonetheless, Phoebe’s voice really excels in this song, and if the lyrics weren’t so depressing, I could see this as the kind of song that plays on Christmas morning while kids open presents.
- Chinatown - Bleachers (feat. Bruce Springsteen)
Similar to See You Again, this song really isn’t a holiday song, I just want it to be one. Chinatown is one of my favorite songs of the year. Bleachers makes mesmerizing synth-oriented pop songs that are reminiscent of 80s pop and Chinatown is no different. That combined with Bruce Springsteen’s mystical vocals makes for a song that encapsulates nostalgia and is truly beautiful. It sounds like the kind of song that would play at the end of a teenage coming of age film. I can see this song being played on New Year’s Day as you reminisce on the year you just had and think about what your future holds.
- Dynamite (Holiday Remix) - BTS
I personally am not a massive fan of the k-pop group BTS. Nothing against them, they seem lovely, but I just don’t know Korean so I have a hard time enjoying their music. BUT, this song is entirely in English, so I gave it a listen. This song has all the features of a holiday song, complete with sleigh bells and a church bell. This is definitely an unconventional holiday song, how many mainstream Korean Christmas songs are out there for an American audience? I definitely enjoyed this song and it does really well in capturing the essence of Christmas. It fits right in with Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You and Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree.
- It’s Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries - Carly Rae Jepsen
People seem to ignore the fact that Carly Rae Jepsen still makes amazing music. She is truly an outstanding artist and I am incredibly frustrated at the fact that Call Me Maybe was her only major hit, but I will save the rest of my frustrations regarding her underrated-ness for another article. This song is sort of similar to Christmas Song, but of course it is MUCH happier. This song is really humorous as well. Carly sings “My boyfriend is a vegan, so they fed him fish / My uncle made it worse by talking politics / I had a few opinions, might have started a fight / Well, it’s not Christmas till somebody cries.” Carly puts a comedic spin on the standard Christmas song and still manages to end up with a great song to play while baking cookies or making a gingerbread house.