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PLAYLIST: Best, worst Christmas songs [MUSE]

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As ACE Week draws to a close, most students are looking forward to the beginning of winter break, and often the holidays that come along with it. Since I grew up surrounded by music and played multiple instruments and my family celebrates Christmas, I’ve fallen into the role of a “Christmas Song Critic” where I have formed strong opinions about almost every carol and jolly jig of a holiday tune I’ve listened to.  

Out of my 7 hour and 28 minute Christmas song playlist, here are my 5 favorite, least favorite and 5 “honorable mention” songs that confuse me on my stance.

BEST:

12 Days of Christmas: Straight No Chaser

Straight No Chaser’s music is a hit or a miss on most occasions, but this medley is a hit not only for its sound but also the humor and unpredictability of the songs brought together. 

Baby it’s Cold Outside: Glee Cast

Honest to a fault, I am a Darren Criss (Glee’s character Blaine) fan until the end of the line. The Glee Cast’s Christmas Album is surprisingly one of the best holiday albums I’ve come across. Criss and Chris Colfer’s (Glee’s character Kurt) vocal differences makes this an adaptation with far less creepy energy and more holiday cheer.

Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season: Andy Williams 

Williams combines classic Christmas song instruments like jingle bells and brass arrangements to make this not only a joyful song overall, but reminiscent of early Christmas Carols despite its midcentury release. 

Joy to the World: Nat King Cole

Cole’s music is a timeless classic, and as short as it is, this song’s choral arrangement makes the listener feel like they are enjoying a traditional caroling group’s door-to-door performances.  

We Need a Little Christmas; Johnny Mathis

Mathis’s callbacks to other popular carols and quick pace is enticing and never fails to boost my mood. Side note: the dance-ibility of this song is unbelievably high. 

WORST:

Text Me Merry Christmas: Straight No Chaser ft. Kristen Bell

As mentioned, Straight No Chaser’s music is a hit or a miss and despite the good melody, the lyricism of Text Me Merry Christmas makes this one of the less-enjoyable holiday songs. I’ll keep it on my playlist for its comedic effect, but unlike The 12 Days of Christmas, this song’s comedy is reliant on dated jokes that wont keep their effect in years to come. Still love them, though.

Let It Snow: Gwen Stefani 

I love drama, but the dramatic effect of Stefani’s voice is not fully suited for lowkey classics like this song. The random electric guitar solo near the end throws me a little too, but overall Stefani’s Christmas singing has been more enjoyable in more dynamic arrangements than this snow-day cozy classic.

Love Is Everything: Ariana Grande

Not bad as a song or message overall, but the repetition and shallow lyrics make this song feel more like it was made for a modern radio station than a Christmas celebration. 

Wonderful Christmastime: Paul McCartney

This opinion may not be popular, but the electric-esque synth and overlaid jingle bells in this song makes it sound like you asked an AI to make a Christmas carol and I’m not a fan. Unlike McCartney’s ex-bandmate, John Lennon’s cynical take on Christmas music, this song is simply confusing to me. 

Oh Santa!: Mariah Carey

As an avid “All I Want for Christmas is You” fan, the rest of Carey’s Christmas songs are a little disappointing. With far less holiday spirit and far more reliant on the early 2000s sound Carey’s whistle notes (especially when only used as random backing tracks) can’t save this song as a whole.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late): Alvin & the Chipmunks

I can’t really explain this one beyond its nostalgic value, but while it can’t compete with traditional Christmas songs in quality it never fails to bring a smile to my face. (I hope you get your hula hoop, Theodore.)

I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas: Gayla Peevey

Recorded when Peevey was 10 years old, this song reminds me of the wonder (and attitude) my sister and I had around Christmas as kids. Even with it’s unorthodox sound, there’s something fun about the repetition of “hippopotamus” in such a short time that keeps me listening to it year after year.

Mistletoe: Justin Bieber

I’m not a big Bieber fan, but I always play this single track on repeat at one point or another leading up to Christmas. The repetition of “shawty with you” goes a little too hard for me not to, after all.

Santa Baby: Eartha Kitt 

“Santa Baby” is a fantastic song from a lyrical and instrumental perspective, but the societal hypersexualization of this song makes my feelings for it conflicting. 

Greatest Time of Year: Aly&AJ

This song feels like the love-child of Paramore and a Disney Channel holiday special. I feel like it would be in the background of a JC Penney’s holiday sale commercial. Surprisingly I enjoy the prominent drums a lot in this song, but because of its mood switch compared to other Christmas songs I have trouble enjoying it in the same listening period as other songs.

You can access my full Christmas playlist on Spotify here.

On this blog, members of the Carmel High School chapter of the Quill and Scroll International Honorary Society for High School Journalists (and the occasional guest writer) produce curations of all facets of popular culture, from TV shows to music to novels to technology. We hope our readers always leave with something new to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.  

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