Okay, so there’s just 3 days left of Advent because when Christmas falls on a Monday we throw the entire Week of Love out the window (makes total sense). So perhaps this is a bit let in the game. Nonetheless, it’s December 22nd, and we’ve all been listening to far too much Mariah Carey since Thanksgiving. Far. Too. Much.
To help us all power through these final dark days of Advent, Diz and I felt it was appropriate to provide some musical sustenance. Everything on this list is either something a bit fresh and different that has been added into the Christmas mix over the last few years or a new take on an old classic. That’s right, no Bing Crosby in this particular corner of yuletide cheer. There are, however, plenty of familiar names who (for reasons unknown) find themselves singing about Jesus throughout December. Hopefully you can find a favorite to help you ride the holiday wave through the 25th!
We’ll start off with a few selections of familiar Christmas tunes reimagined by bands who bring a fresh (often folksy) perspective to music that we all know and love.
Let’s kick things off with a bang! The Rend Collective is a Christian-ish band, but one of the good ones from what I’ve heard. Their rendition of “Ding Dong Merrily on High” is just tons of fun.
Next up is another upbeat selection. If you’re looking for new takes on classics, look no further than the “Sleigh Ride” EP by The Last Bison. It’s all good, but their rendition of “Over the River” gets embedded in my head every year (even though it’s technically a Thanksgiving carol!)
Jack Black and Jason Segel take on Bing Crosby and David Bowie in an animated extravaganza? Yes please!
This next one comes from deep in the Christmas archives, but was blessedly given new life by the band Canaries in the Coal Mine. “Cead Mile Failte Romhat” (with, like, way more accents and punctuation that I can even pretend to fit in there) is a Gaelic phrase extending welcome to a visitor. What better way to welcome Jesus into the world?
Rounding out our “classics revisited” division are a couple of selections from Sufjan Stevens, who pretty much changed the game when he released “Songs for Christmas” back in 2006. The whole album is long and beautiful and a true celebration of the songs that define the Christmas season that is well worth your time, but where it really shines is when it brings new life into traditional hymns that were at risk of being lost entirely. A lot of these songs are experiencing a resurgence, and I think it’s due in large part to this album. Here are two of the highlights:
And now, for a couple of tunes that I like to consider “new classics.” This first one is a holiday staple in my household, though Diz maintains it fits better for St. Patrick’s Day. Whatever. It works for both. And if you’re a fan of the show The Wire, you’ll know that it works great for a wake, as well!
Into the category of “just go check out the whole thing right now” (which is becoming a theme in this post), we can now add the Stephen Colbert Christmas Special. It’s a few years old at this point, but I feel like we need it now more than ever. Case in point:
And now for something completely different! To call “Once This Year” by Beta Radio a Christmas song is definitely a misnomer. In fact, it is an Advent carol. I don’t know that I can say that I have ever actually come across a song that does a better job of building up the darkness of Advent and then cracking open the Christmas door that allows the smallest sliver of light spill into the room. This is Advent, and it’s why we need Christmas!
And finally, you didn’t think I would let this post reach its conclusion without any Muppets did you? Happy Advent, everyone! May these final days be filled with hope, peace, joy, love, and the anticipation of what comes next!