Christmas Music That’s Actually Good

A while back I did a thing for the KUSC blog where I picked my Top 10 Classical Christmas Picks. (Actually, it ended up being a Top 12 list, but whatever.) Here’s an updated version of that post. But you won’t hear any of that music blaring over the loudspeakers at your favorite shopping mall. And you certainly won’t encounter it on the very limited playlists of those all-Christmas-music-all-the-time radio stations either.

Which is fine. The mall and that soft-rock station aren’t really the right venues for great art anyway. But it got me thinking. There’s plenty of non-classical Christmas music out there that’s actually good music. Why don’t we ever hear any of it?

In that spirit, here are my picks of Christmas Music That’s Actually Good. From Tuvan throat singers doing Jingle Bells with overtones…to a wistful, bittersweet version of Frosty the Snowman that finally captures the essence of the song (after all, Frosty does DIE in the end)…to a bluegrass rendition of O Come, O Come Immanuel…and the only arrangement of The 12 Days of Christmas worth listening to (how many others have each day in a different key and time signature?)…it’s all here. Or is it? What’s missing from this list? Tell me, and I’ll add it.

7 thoughts on “Christmas Music That’s Actually Good

  1. Agh! I’m always looking for new and interesting Christmas music. Thank you! I feel like every Christmas when I start playing my Christmas playlist, I’m already sick of it!

    Also, I just posted on FB about it, but I highly recommend Andrew Belle’s version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Stumbled upon it on iTunes, but it has a vibe about it that, regrettably, makes me feel like it’s probably been on Grey’s Anatomy or something else as terrible.

    1. And for you, personally, Brian, I must recommend Matt Wertz’s version of Tennessee Christmas. šŸ™‚ It’s not cool or hipster, but it often gets overlooked so might be a nice choice.

  2. Fun list! Must add my two cents and recommend as well John Pizzarelli’s album “Let’s Share Christmas” and the Broadway Inspirational Voices gospel Christmas album “Great Joy” under the direction of Michael McElroy. Two of my holiday faves. Enjoy!

  3. I don’t generally love “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” but I really enjoy both the rendition by Jack Johnson and the one by Jewell. Thanks for the playlist šŸ™‚

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