The holidays don't feel the same in 2020, but fortunately, holiday music is alive and well.
Whether you need music for crying alone by the Christmas tree, railing against the capitalist excess of the season, making hot cocoa, or partying your heart out (safely with your pod), this playlist has the perfect song for you. Featuring covers of old classics and brand-new songs designed just for the strangeness of this year, this is our holiday roundup, curated with love and good cheer and plenty of tears just for you.
beabadoobie, "Winter Wonderland"Winter Wonderland - Single by beabadoobee
beabadoobie's career has been on an upward trajectory all year, with her debut Fake It Flowers garnering critical acclaim. Now she's gracing us with a cover of the classic Christmas song, "Winter Wonderland," exclusively available on Apple Music.
HONNE, "Warm on a Christmas Night"
HONNE have returned with a holiday-themed twist on their hit song "warm on a cold night." With its creative string arrangements and classy piano, "Warm on a Christmas Night" is ideal fireside Christmas music, as cozy and full of sultry cheer as you could ask for.
Lindsey Sterling and Darius Rucker, "What Child Is This"
Beloved pop violinist Lindsey Stirling has teamed up with golden-voiced crooner Darius Rucker to release a stirring, haunting version of "What Child Is This." The song was created for the CMA Country Christmas Special, which aired on November 30th this year. On December 12th, Stirling will release her own Home for the Holidays Christmas Special.
Black Violin, "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
Grammy-nominated duo Black Violin have released a video for their exquisite rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," featured on their holiday album, Give Thanks.
"Give Thanks employs playful storytelling, whimsical strings, and hard-hitting rhythms to highlight the unifying pillars of the holiday season: Giving back to others and being wholeheartedly thankful," says Black Violin of the album.
Ella Henderson and AJ Mitchell, "Blame It On The Mistletoe"
UK pop phenomenon Ella Henderson has teamed up with US pop phenomenon AJ Mitchell to create an infectious, energetic and sparkling tribute to Christmastime love with "Blame It On The Mistletoe." It's a chipper, festive send-off to a rough year.
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, "Christmas Is Coming (We All Know The Score)"
Welsh outlet Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard has released a truly fantastic Christmas song called "Christmas Is Coming (We All Know The Score)." It's a wry, tongue-in-cheek commentary on the meaninglessness of religion, imperialism, and capitalism that manages to be deeply energizing in the strange way that the holidays are, even if you hate what they represent.
"Weirdly enough this Christmas song was written many years ago but I suppose the absolute grinding nightmare we call consumer capitalism never really takes a sick day even during a global pandemic, so at least one positive take away from writing sarcastic songs about capitalism is that the situation is almost definitely only going to get worse and we can only become more alarmingly relevant as each year goes by," said the band's Tom Rees.
Margo Price has released a cover of Joni Mitchell's stunning heartbreaker of a Christmas classic, "River." Her piano-voice only rendition gets to the heart of the song's devastating core.
Pop sensation Sabrina Claudio released a Christmas album called Christmas Blues this year. With features from The Weeknd and Alicia Keys, it's an ode to finding joy and pleasure in the darkest times.
"My intention behind creating and indulging into a Christmas album was to attempt to shine a small light through an incredibly dark year for as many people as I can reach," she said. "If I have the opportunity to bring a sense of happiness, nostalgia, or calmness to someone with this album, that's all I could ever ask for. I'm also just a sucker for Christmas time and Christmas music!" Aren't we all.
Mabes - "Alone On Christmas Eve" and "Let It Snow"
Singer-songwriter Mabes has released two charmingly angsty Christmas songs, "Alone On Christmas Eve" and "Let It Snow." The cheeky songs will resonate with anyone who's been spending most of their time alone in 2020 and feeling like they should maybe get their lives together. "They say time is a healer," she sings. "F*ck them, I'll drink this tequila."
Mabes' EP, Too Young To Love EP, is out December 6th.
Music theory prodigy Jacob Collier has combined hundreds of his own voices to create a mystical cover of "A Christmas Song." The video is a charming tribute to Christmas picture books of old; the song is a spine-tingling ode to the power of harmony and the human voice.
Superstars David Bisball and Carrie Underwood have released a duet in the form of "Tears Of Gold," an opulent, EDM-driven holiday anthem. The song is kind of terrifyingly pumped up and feels reminiscent of pop culture circa sometime around 2012, but you know, Carrie Underwood sings in Spanish and there's a lot of glitter.
Leslie Odom, Jr., The Christmas Album
Angel-voiced Leslie Odom, Jr. came ready for Christmas this year, releasing his holiday album on November 6th. The jazzy, elegant, pop-infused album is a combination of classic Christmas jams and original songs, it's the perfectly celebratory escape from 2020 you need. The exuberant "Snow" is particularly uplifting.
Andrew Bird has released a beautifully animated video for his gorgeous, bass-driven Christmas song "Night's Falling," which is off his album of Christmas songs, HARK!
"Night's falling, no you're not alone. Take courage," Bird sings, gospel for our times. Bird has been bringing the Christmas spirit to the world for years, and this year, he will perform his annual holiday musical event, "Gezelligheid," on December 13 as a livestream from the California mountains.
"I want to keep the Gezelligheid tradition going, though I'll be nowhere near Fourth Presbyterian in Chicago this year," Bird said of the upcoming performance. "In a way, I'll be merging Gezelligheid with Echolocations as the Janus horn sends my violin bouncing off surrounding oaks and mountains as the sun sets. Gezelligheid (which roughly translates to cozy) was conceived as a way to get through the seasonal darkness with a communal experience. This year will be a test of our individual and collective strength."
Phoebe Bridgers typically releases a sad Christmas song every holiday season, and this year she's come through with a dreary, ghostly rendition of Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December." It's a perfect song for the end of 2020, as many of us lament our loss of Christmas joys while dreaming about 2021 somehow, suddenly being better—if we can make it through.
Kat Cunning, "O'Holy Night"
Kat Cunning's version of "O'Holy Night" is emotional and stripped-down, revealing the song's power and beauty. It makes you think: We could all probably use a new appearance from Jesus right about now, if only to remind the wealthy to care for the masses.
Gold Record, "Candy Cane"
New Mexico-based band Gold Record is releasing a sultry Christmas-themed EP called "Volume XMAS" on December 18th, and they just released the first single, "Candy Cane." This is Christmas music at its sultry, funky, slacker-y, punny best.
Sad, gloomy Christmas songs never sounded sweeter. Kandle's "Christmas Mourn" is a bittersweet 50s dream pop-influenced ode to longing that sounds like a wild snowstorm. The song, a collaboration with Debra-Jean Creelman, is intended to be "the only thing that can help folks like us to deal with the loneliness of a covid Christmas," according to the artist.
"This won't be happening this year which has made me appreciate little things like this even more! We are getting there! I'll look forward to a beer with a mate..." says Jamie Grey of his video for "Christmas in our Home Town," a warm and nostalgic tribute to local attractions and hometown holidays. We'll never take the chance to reunite with old friends at a bar for granted again, and this song summarizes that fact perfectly.
GIVĒON, "O Christmas Tree"O Christmas Tree by GIVĒON
Grammy nominated singer-songwriter GIVĒON has released a dreamy cover of the holiday classic "O Christmas Tree" in partnership with Apple Music. With its smoky horns and ethereal keyboard, it's a true tribute to the magic of the season.
Tory Kelly's "25th" is clearly trying to emulate Mariah Carey-esque holiday pop. The sugar-sweet holiday song is part of Kelly's first holiday album, A Tory Kelly Christmas. Full of exuberant holiday gems, it's perfect for lifting your spirits on the darkest, holiest nights of the year.