All I Want for Christmas is M(u)sic

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Carson Eckert, Staff Columnist

Happy Holidays, Knights! It’s finally that time of year—and my favorite part of the year for one reason alone: Christmas music. I know not everyone reading this celebrates Christmas, but everyone can appreciate the seasonal gift that is great Christmas music for its high quality and not its holiday origins. So, grab your headphones, bundle up, and check out some of my favorite holiday tunes.

First, I want to talk about some of my favorite Christmas albums that are playing in my house all through the season. The list would be incomplete without Mariah Carey’s iconic “Merry Christmas” album; the cover photo for my Christmas playlist is simply a graphic reading “I *heart* Mariah Carey.”

The album’s collection of beautiful covers and originals has been an influential presence in pop culture and music for years. Mariah Carey also delivers my favorite-ever rendition of “Silent Night” on this album. Mariah’s uniquely powerful vocals build over the mellow piano and make the song a must-listen.

I know everyone likes “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” but I want to remind you the album has nine other great songs, including “Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

“Elvis’ Christmas Album” was released in 1957 and contains 12 great songs that will bring some much- needed soul to your holiday. If, like me, you’re a big Elvis fan, you need to listen to his holiday songs. If you don’t listen to much Elvis, make a fire and settle down for Elvis’ deep voice and solemn holiday songs. Some of my favorites from this album include “Blue Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “(There’ll Be) Peace In The Valley (For Me).”

Now, onto my favorite of the three. In 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted as an animated special on TV. While the special itself is quite good, the real magic is in its soundtrack, created by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

Even if you haven’t watched the special, the music will fill you with nostalgia and bring you back to holiday seasons of years past. If I had to choose one album that represented the holidays best, it would be this one. My favorite songs from this album are “Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal),” “The Christmas Song,” and “O Tannenbaum.”

In addition to full-length projects, I love many Christmas singles that aren’t necessarily on Christmas- themed albums. There is a special quality to upbeat Christmas songs that capture the joy and excitement behind the holiday in only a few minutes. My personal favorite Christmas song, “Driving Home for Christmas,” by British singer-songwriter Chris Rea is always a highlight of the holiday season. When listening to this song, I imagine myself coming home from college for the holiday season. The idea of being on the road home “with a thousand memories” always puts me in a good mood.

I also love “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway. Donny is one of the original writers of this song, and rhythm and blues and soul influences bring light to any dark and cold winter night.

Lastly, “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson is one of the most fun Christmas songs out there. From the first time I heard the chorus, I knew I needed it on my playlist. With a bouncing drumbeat that compliments the background harmonies, the song is a full experience of holiday cheer.

Although many Christmas songs are lively and more upbeat, some of my favorites are mellow, gentle tunes such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby. Bing’s deep, reverberating voice, along with the intricate arrangement of violins, makes for the perfect soundtrack to winter.

As you know from a previous column, I am a big John Denver fan, and I love his Christmas music just as much as his hits. One of his best Christmas songs is “Christmas for Cowboys.” Denver’s acoustic guitar melody combined with the rich natural imagery in his lyrics gives you snowy spirit from a midwestern perspective.

My last recommendation comes from Amos Lee, a relatively unknown artist from Philadelphia. His “Holiday Song” blends elements of folk and soul to create a beautiful tone. My favorite part of the song is middle verse where Amos sings about snow falling in different areas. I love how vividly I can imagine the contrasts between highways and meadows and the White House and ghettos.

The great music of the holidays is for everyone, not just those who celebrate Christmas, and it comes in all forms and styles. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, make sure to blast your favorite Christmas songs to carry you into the new year. I hope everyone has a great winter break— merry listening to all, and to all a good night!