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Top 10 Best Holiday Songs You’ve Never Heard

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us!!  That means it’s time for my ears to ring with the delightful sounds of one of my all time favorite things – HOLIDAY MUSIC!!!  Around March I begin looking forward to “Black Friday”, the official day that I can start blasting the John Denver and The Muppets A Chistmas Together album without shame.  While I love the traditional holiday songs and the modern-classic pop covers that we hear on repeat while getting our gift shopping done, it is the lesser known alternative holiday tracks that I bump on repeat.  The holidays provide a wealth of inspiration for songwriters, but it is not always the cheery sing-alongs and sentimental standards that are most affecting.  The following are a few of my favorite recognition-lacking holiday songs that you most likely won’t find playing at your local Westfield Shopping Center.

1. “Christmas” – Blues Traveler

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We’ll start with my all-time favorite contemporary holiday hit, “Christmas”.  Despite its title, the song is an all out celebration of winter holidays.  The lyrics evoke the excitement, nostalgia, spirit, and imagery of the season in a joyous, all-inclusive musical explosion.  A multi-layered final chorus and the jingle bell driven beat really bring it all together.  The lyrics “Christmas can mean anything, and I mean to keep its hope forever near” really embody the message of the song and the season.

Featured on A Very Special Christmas 3 available on Amazon.

2. “Xmas Cake” – Rilo Kiley

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“Xmas Cake” takes a dramatically different turn from our first pick.  This somber song puts the listener in the role of an unemployed 25-year-old still struggling to pay off the loans on a bachelor degree whose relationship has just fallen apart.  An emotionally fueled performance from the reliable Jenny Lewis strikes the perfect anti-holiday chord.  The situation is not entirely dire though because “the new year is right in front of you.”

Featured on Maybe This Christmas Too? available on Amazon.

3. “Hanukkah Blessings” – Barenaked Ladies

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Christmas is my holiday, but I feel like I am cultured enough to make the claim that this is by far the best song about Hanukkah ever written.  It captures the essence and meaning of Hanukkah in a magically melodious way.  Also, to my knowledge it is the only song with Hebrew lyrics on Rock Band.

 Featured on Barenaked for the Holidays available on Amazon.

4. “Donde Esta Santa Claus?” – Guster

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Apparently this is a cover of a song from the 50’s, but this is the definitive version as far as I’m concerned.  Whenever there is a passenger in my car in December and this song comes on my mix, it is always a big hit.  “Donde Esta Santa Claus?” infuses Santa and his reindeer with some humorous south-of-the-border flair.  The song takes on another level of irony when you know that all the members of Guster are Jewish.

 Featured on Maybe This Christmas Too? available on Amazon.

5. “What a Year for a New Year” – Dan Wilson

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Just an inspirational song about cleansing yourself from a terrible year and welcoming a new one, from the man that brought us “Closing Time” and “Someone Like You”.

Featured on Maybe this Christmas available on Amazon.

Click through to page 2 for more musical holiday magic!

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The Author

Brian Rudloff

Brian Rudloff

Brian loves two things: movies and vacations. He has a B.S. in Cinema/Television Production and an M.S. in Recreation and Tourism Management. While he certainly anticipates the latest releases, he is more often found dancing on flying sarapes through the ether of yesteryear and wistfully prancing on clouds of nostalgia. He does not understand kids these days or the entertainment they consume.