Music is a little like food and clothes. These are areas where it’s probably worthwhile for one to explore & expand their tastes. The Playlist is assembled each month by Dappered’s very own music correspondent, Tim Johnstone. Tim is a former Virgin Records Label Rep & current award winning Program Director at KRVB, which was awarded the FMQB AAA station of the year markets 50+. You can also catch his work on Fridays when he assembles the Weekend Dossier.
When it comes right down to it, I like my holiday music moody and melancholic. Because, all things considered, the holidays aren’t always picture perfect. Far from it. And the juxtaposition of the sad and beautiful in many of these songs just seems to make for a more intense experience. Most of these selections are best paired with a toasty concoction, a fire in the fireplace and your favorite squeeze.
Sharon and her team gave us a hint of her holiday cheer with “Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects” a couple of years back. We must have all been good because this year we are treated to a full album of holiday swagger. And it is everything you had hoped for from Team Dap-Kings. It begins with a rocking’ Hanukkah song, moves through a couple holiday classics, includes a couple terrific seasonal originals, and generally provides a grovin’ assortment of yuletide cheer. On repeat currently.
Robert and Alison return with their first new music together since their seminal collaboration Raising Sand. This is a lovely, relaxed carol, dressed up with lap steel guitar and the duos hushed vocals. Apologies for the movie clips within the song. Worst. Official. Video. Ever. #whenmarketingrunsamok
I’m going to admit it. I am smitten with Miss Day. There is an obvious retro quality to what she is doing, but it works for me. She’s got the voice and just enough élan to sharpen the edges. Then there’s this.
A rare, previously unreleased Beach Boys’ holiday song gets a chirpy update from the French band who were invited to be part of Bill Murray’s NETFLIX holiday special. Who says no to Bill? If I’m not mistaken, this is easily the only song on this list that features a Theremin-sounding keyboard accompaniment. Which totally makes sense. BONUS! Profits from the song go to UNICEF.
Some of you might know who originally had a hit with this song. When Tracey Thorn released her terrific holiday collection called Tinsel & Lights, I was pretty happy to see it included. Of all the songs on the collection, this one features an arrangement that brings to mind Thorn’s beloved indie pop group Everything But The Girl (who had their own lovely holiday song once upon a time). Plus, it nails the whole melancholy thing stone cold.
Whereupon the Danish band drowns the classic Phil Spector holiday song with reverb and heartbreak. Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have created a deep catalogue of dark wave pop and their sound is well suited for the sadness and beauty of the season.
Texas siblings Tyler Heath and Maggie Heath are an indie folk duo who have been gaining a solid fanbase over the course of three albums and a Christmas ep. This is an inventive melody of “Joy To The World” and “I Saw Three Ships” that benefits from a terrific arrangement and a genuine feeling of goodwill. Yeah, even my brittle black heart of coal melts a little at this one.
DISCLAIMER: I could not find a video for this track or even a soundcloud stream which is a bummer because I’m loathe to post an ad for Apple here. However, the song is just so good. Stevie Wonder updates his Motown classic holiday fave with newcomer Andra Day. Yes. Her again. I told you I was smitten. The version released as a single is much more fleshed out in comparison to what we get here. But both versions shine.
This might be my favorite holiday original of the season. Seattle’s Ivan & Alyosha have released a series of impressive records over the past 8 years. This song sounds like it would have been at home on 70’s AM radio. This is not a bad thing.
From the NYC new wave underground to a modern holiday classic in the space of, oh, 25 years or so. Along with Chrissie Hynde’s “2000 Miles” and the Pogues”Fairytale of New York,” this song has been embraced by the mainstream. And for good reason too. A chirpy story about one modern woman’s choice to go it alone for the holidays and how the best laid plans, etc, etc. Plus, who doesn’t love a happy ending?
When I’m not drowning in seasonal musical opiates, my go to for happy holiday music is the stuff that swings. You know, Ella Fitzgerald, Vince Guaraldi, Louis Armstrong…and the creator of Family Guy? Yeah. Turns out the guy can sing. Well. Good for him.
Rufus comes from folk music royalty. And his family surrounds him on this song from The McGarrigle Christmas Hour. In a perfect world, Rufus would be a pop superstar. He is wildly talented and occasionally over the top. This particular arrangement is dialed back, all the better to highlight Rufus’ effortless singing.
Their first holiday song and still their best. Brandon Flowers gets all the prizes for the lyrical goodness herein. The song clicks on all levels, with really strong melodies throughout. And, also, it just rocks.
For previous editions of The Playlist, see the growing archive here.
Click here for the Spotify playlist.