If there is one genre of music that I dislike more than any other, it would have to be holiday music. The allure of the mindless saccharine, jingly, basic nature of most songs meant for the holiday season is something that I will never understand. At that, it seems as though the songs start getting played earlier each year, leaving holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving without their due attention. With this venting out of the way, I will admit that there are a few holiday songs that rise above the pack to actually be enjoyable.While acts like Trans-Siberian Orchestra have their novelty value, I tend to find more satisfaction in versions of holiday songs performed by the acts that I listen to on a regular basis. As such, I’m able to give the following three tracks a hearty stamp of approval for repeat listens over the next week and a half.
1. “O Holy Night” – Go Radio
When thinking of songs for this week’s article, I was tempted to choose Breathe Carolina‘s “Mile High Christmas” for the sheer novelty of the “PRESENTS! LET’S OPEN THAT SHIT UP!” breakdown, but instead thought that Go Radio’s version of “O Holy Night” from the ‘Tis The Season To Be Fearless compilation might be a bit more appropriate. Lucky Street is my favorite album of 2011, and this cover finds all of the elements that make that album great turning an otherwise boring and repetitive carol into something dynamic and worthy of repeat listens. Opening with only Jason Lancaster’s voice and a simple yet beautiful piano part, then building to a huge sound with well-written guitar and drum parts, this was easily the highlight of the holiday compilation put out by Fearless Records last year and is well-deserving of a spot on any Christmas playlist you might make this time around.
2. “Santa Baby” – VersaEmerge
When I found out that VersaEmerge had chosen “Santa Baby” to cover, I wasn’t very excited. I honestly can’t think of a Christmas song I like less than this one. However, the band’s trademark sound transforms an otherwise cheesy song into something creepy and yet totally fitting for the season. Sierra Kusterbeck’s voice captivates and makes even the most vapid lyrics forgivable, while the instrumentation creates an intricate atmosphere. The duo really make the song their own, and completely redeems any harm that may have been done to my ears by other versions of this song in the past.
3. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” – Sufjan Stevenshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UGaDcQcFKk
One of three versions of this track on Sufjan’s assorted Christmas albums, this song combines everything that I love about his pre-Age Of Adz sound, from the well-constructed folky instrumentation to his moving voice. While staying true to the traditional melodies, his styling almost has the ability to make me think that I really, really enjoy Christmas music. It was honestly very difficult to choose one single song from his box set, so take this as a recommendation not only for this song, but for the complete collection of Sufjan’s collected Christmas albums. They’ll be well worth your time.