With Thanksgiving now in the rear view mirror, it’s time to start pulling out the CDs and vinyl with your favorite holiday recordings on them. Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby probably never get played as much all year as they in the weeks leading up the winter holiday explosion in December. As much a fan as I am of those classic crooners and their versions of some of the truly great holiday songs, there have been quite a few other alternatives put forth in the years since those recordings were made.
To be clear, we won’t be covering any reindeer and grandma incidents, nor requests for front teeth. We’ll be examining a few newer or updated versions of holiday songs, but spun in a new direction by other artists. So here now are a few non-traditional holiday music choices for your upcoming holiday season.
Bing Crosby & David Bowie “Little Drummer Boy” – Of course this version has been around long enough to become a sort of “modern classic” itself, but no holiday music list is complete without it. Recorded on September 11th, 1977, the song works as almost a passing of the torch from an older generation to the next. Hear “Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie on YouTube.
John Lennon “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” – Another in the modern classic category, this song does get quite a bit of air play around this time of year, but with good reason. With a very simple message, the song sings to the frailty of life, but the power of hope as well. It’s a reminder that with every new year comes a new chance to make the world a better place than it was the whole year previously. Hear “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon on YouTube.
Adam Sandler “The Hanukkah Song” – Okay, yes, this is probably a song that may rightfully reside in the “novelty” bin, but it’s a genuinely funny song, and it’s nice to get some representation from the other holidays too. Besides, any song that can masterfully incorporate Harry “The Fonz” Winkler, William Shatner and baseball great Rod Carew deserves mention on any list. Hear “The Hanukkah Song” by Adam Sandler on YouTube.
Run-D.M.C. “Christmas in Hollis” – Maybe the ultimate Christmas rap song, it’s instantly recognizable from the beginning. It tells the story of Christmas in an urban neighborhood. The uses a sample from an old 1960s era song “Back Door Santa” and has been featured in countless TV shows and movies, including the Christmas action classic “Die Hard.” Hear “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. on YouTube.
The Beach Boys “Little Saint Nick” – Maybe it’s because their sound is so evocative of sunny Southern California and so any Christmas songs by The Beach Boys will also have that same bright feeling, but “Little Saint Nick” is a catchy tune with all the signature Beach Boy harmony and good cheer. It’s a great little Christmas track from true rock and roll legends. Hear “Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys on YouTube.