There was a time, dear reader, when finding a festive tune not by one of your dad’s mirror-hat-clad favourites was nigh-on impossible. Then, out of the dark came… The Darkness, and now - mostly in thanks to our mutuals at streaming services - there’s a Boxing Day spread of songs to pick from. Here’s some of our faves from the 2022 selection box.
Phoebe Bridgers - So Much Wine
We’re now firmly used to Phoebe Bridgers dropping a new festive number each year, and this time it’s her take on The Handsome Family’s 2000 release, ‘So Much Wine’. She stays faithful to the original - with plenty of melancholy, naturally - but the addition of partner Paul Mescal adds another, warmer, dimension. It’s almost cosy – the auditory equivalent of getting home and sitting in front of the fire after a chilly walk in the snow. (Adam England)
Lizzo - Someday at Christmas
A cover of Stevie Wonder’s 1967 release, ‘Someday at Christmas’ builds from a stunning solo vocal from Lizzo to become a striking addition to 2022’s seasonal playlists. The musical polymath joins an already start-studded cast who have released versions of the song, perhaps most notably Diana Ross, who performed it at the then-annual Christmas in Washington event for President Obama. It serves a reminder that, even 60 years later, we’re still fighting for peace, compassion and equality; Lizzo giving us a friendly reminder to spread love and kindness to all this festive season. (Katie Macbeth)
The Linda Lindas - Groovy Xmas
Truly excellent Christmas songs can come in many forms. Big, bell-tinkling sentimentalism (‘Last Christmas’, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’), joyful pop camp (‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’), drunken carousing (‘Fairytale of New York’) - all have their place among the oeuvre. Perhaps underrated, however, is just how glorious a scrappy punk Christmas bop can be. ‘Groovy Xmas’ is like if Ramones wrote a festive track for a Scooby Doo episode which, of course, means that it goes straight into the Christmas top tier. Well done, The Linda Lindas. (Lisa Wright)
Lindsay Lohan - Jingle Bell Rock
This winter sees Lindsay Lohan make a triumphant return with Netflix film Falling For Christmas. And, as part of the film’s soundtrack, she’s released a cover of the classic ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ - which serves itself as a perfect tribute to her iconic turn in Mean Girls. 18 years after Cady Heron and The Plastics performed their now infamous dance to the track in a defining moment of North Shore High School’s Winter Talent Show, the reimagined song features a rap verse from Ali Tomineek and is cheerful and festive with a welcome dose of the season’s favourite feeling, nostalgia. (Katie Macbeth)
LIFE - Jingle Bells
If you’ve finally reached your capacity for twee carols and overwrought glam-rock, then it’s probably about time you choose LIFE instead. Taking on the festive school choir classic ‘Jingle Bells’, they’ve kept its earwormy sugariness but instead, roughed things up a little: alongside Mez Green’s scuzzy snarl comes a whole new - and arguably, much more realistic - second verse (“The clouds are full of white / Mulled wine down our pipes / Swearing as we ride / Laughing as we glide”) and a Fall-esque spoken word section. What more could we wish for? (Sarah Jamieson)
Tkay Maidza - Nights in December
The groovy, atmospheric ‘Nights in December’ sees Tkay Maidza looking back on a winter trip to New York over downtempo, R&B-inspired synths. She describes it as a love letter to the city that “captures the feeling of a new relationship,” and it’s perfect for the season. “You and me, we don’t need reality / I hope it’s gonna last forever,” she sings, and while the track clocks in at a respectable three and a half minutes, it wouldn’t be so bad if it lasted forever too. (Adam England)
Baddiel, Skinner & Lightning Seeds - Three Lions (It’s Coming Home For Christmas)
Given that we’re at a point where ‘Three Lions’ is more of an English national anthem than the Actual National Anthem, why did anyone feel the need to do this? Even if it had come home – and by now we’re all very aware that it didn’t, to the relief of the Scots, Welsh and Irish among us and joy of pizza restaurants’ marketing planners joy – the greatest benefit of having all of music all of the time just a click or two away is… we can listen to that instead. (Emma Swann)
Future Islands - Last Christmas
That it’s a cover of the Wham! classic says all it needs to: picture Samuel T Herring in skiing gear in front of a green screen, and that’s 90% of what’s going on, the Future Islands frontman’s ability to skirt the line between sincerity and irony a smart match for the perennial playlist addition, even if the opening notes sound like the original on a cassette player that’s low on batteries… (Bella Martin)
Laura Mvula - Purple Snowflakes
RAYE - O Holy Night
Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but Top of the Pops ended its weekly broadcast in 2006, the same year Leona Lewis’ ‘A Moment Like This’, the second X Factor winner of an eventual four-year consecutive run, nabbed the Christmas Number One. Somehow that seems like halcyon days now a man who’s entire personality appears to revolve around a singular baked good has monopolised it, his ever-desperate measures last year having roped in Elton ‘n’ Ed and this year increasingly exasperated financial expert Martin Lewis (yes, that face you’re pulling now – us too). Anyway, while it’s apparently Mariah and Wham! fighting it out, there’s a third player, RAYE’s ‘Escapism.’ And, after the singer’s 2022 – wouldn’t that be a fine end?
She’s also recorded this version of traditional carol ‘O Holy Night’, which shows off her powerhouse vocal to shiver-inducing effect. (Emma Swann)
Remi Wolf - Last Christmas / Winter Wonderland
A double whammy from Remi Wolf sees the California singer-songwriter cover both ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’. The former mixes surf-pop instrumentals with her usual bedroom funk: it wouldn’t feel out of place on the beach. ‘Winter Wonderful’ feels more classically Christmassy, perhaps, as Remi gets to show off her vocal range. It’s easy to imagine it soundtracking a classic Christmas movie - it’s got that traditional pop feel, but with the singer’s distinct spin on proceedings. (Adam England)
The Staves - Christmas Wish
Written for new movie Your Christmas or Mine, singing sisters The Staves offer up ‘Christmas Wish’. Luscious, and filled with swooning harmonies, it’s full of warmth – and with more than a hint of The Carpenters’ Christmas releases to it. Far from being a throwaway, Christmas Wish is a lovely track sure to please the group’s fanbase. (Christopher Connor)
Hotel Lux - The Carvery
Bonus Christmas points must be given to Hotel Lux for a) punning on Jona Lewie’s famous anti-war track with their own “don’t stop the carvery”, and b) producing the most slurring festive vocal since Shane MacGowan in the form of frontman Lewis Duffin. Written in aid of Shelter and produced alongside The Vaccines’ Freddie Cowan’s clothing label Basic Rights, ‘The Carvery’ shows there’s more to the season than just stuffing your face - but a bit of Nigella always helps the medicine go down. (Lisa Wright)
Sam Smith - Night Before Christmas
While Sam Smith’s stand-out moment of 2022 arrived, unquestionably, in the form of their stone-cold banger (and Kim Petras-collab) ‘Unholy’, there’s still something wonderfully comforting about the singer’s return to the more classic end of their musical canon. The kind of warming track that lends itself perfectly to cosy evenings and nostalgic festivities - or maybe even a future reboot of The Holiday - ‘Night Before Christmas’ may be a little more reflective than their most recent stomping hit, but if you can’t croon at Christmas, when can you?! (Sarah Jamieson)
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