Posted by Mike Moynahan on 12/06 at 06:21 PM
It’s that time of the year again, State College. Allen street looks spectacular adorned in lights and a full evergreen stands just outside the Allen Street gate. I see bright blue snowflakes on street lamps of Beaver Avenue as I walk to class each day and I could not be happier. With final papers, projects and exams looming over us, let’s take some time together to relax and enjoy some tunes before these next few weeks and think fondly about the family and friends who await us once we return home. Here are some Christmas/winter/holiday songs I hold very dear. I hope you might like them as well:
The Beatles- “Christmas Time is Here Again”
Who better to start off with than the Fab Four? John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed notable holiday tunes of their own in their lives after the Beatles but this song with George and Ringo remains one of my favorites. It’s simple and upbeat and I dig the gritty quality that many of the Beatles’ more produced tracks lacked.
Chris Martin and the boys do a lovely job with these two songs complete with their lovely British accents. Both are heavily piano-based and are perfect to listen to while walking to class when it’s snowing. They help you get through the cold weather State College never seems to lack.
Frightened Rabbit- “It’s Christmas So We’ll Stop”
This became one of my favorite songs of the season after it’s release in 2008. This fantastic Scottish group spreads a great message of putting aside the differences with those in your life to appreciate how the hardships you’ve been through have given you strength.
Blink-182- “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas”
Blink has always been notorious for bringing light-hearted themes and at times cynical lyrics to their music. This track is no different. Although it’s not as happy as others on this list, it’s still a catchy track from a group who have done a lot for their genre since their incarnation.
Weezer- “The First Noel”
I’ve been a Weezer fan since my friend first lent me his copy of Weezer (Blue Album) in elementary school. And, like many other Weezer fans, have been a bit dismayed with recent releases but still appreciate what they’ve given to me. This take on the Christmas classic is complete with Rivers Cuomo showing a bit of range and a nice guitar solo.
Jimmy Eat World- “12.23.95”
Unfortunately for many, their Jimmy Eat World Christmas connection ends with their great cover of “Last Christmas.” While I enjoy that track I think this one’s even better. From their 1999 album Clarity, this listener’s favorite, the line “Merry Christmas, Baby” guides this lovely song along nicely.
Death Cab For Cutie- “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
Ben Gibbard is a master of emotions when it comes to writing a good song. He brings that same effort in Death Cab’s cover of this Christmas love song. More Death Cab to come soon.
Bright Eyes’ leader Conor Oberst might not always seem like the happiest fellow when you listen to his music, and that shows on his haunting rendition of “Blue Christmas.’ On “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” however, Oberst shows he can be up tempo, and his band puts a very nice folky twist on the holiday classic.
Relient K- “Merry Christmas, Here’s to Many More”
Matthew Thiessen and his group Relient K have somewhat moved away from the Christian genre where they started their career and have branched out into the mainstream. Their faith still resonates in their music, however, and the group has even released two Christmas albums over their career. This one is a standout and contains one of my favorite choruses on this list with, “so look at me now, it’s finally Christmas and I’m home. Head indoors, to get out of this weather. And I don’t know how but the closest friends I’ve ever known are all inside singing together ‘Singing Merry Christmas, here’s to many more.’”
Fountains of Wayne- “Valley Winter Song”
Some may not have journeyed past Fountains of Wayne’s hit “Stacey’s Mom” but the group has a lot to offer. “Valley Winter Song” is a great track all year round but is especially strong this time of year. It’s a song that always cheers me up when I’m getting a bit tired of the bitter cold.
Elliott Smith- “Angel in the Snow”
“Angel in the Snow” was a track Smith never released when he was alive but has become a fan favorite when it was featured on a postmortem release of B-Sides and rarities. It’s a winter love song on the top of my list and always will be.
Superchunk- “Winter Games”
Superchunk is a fantastic rock group known for their catchy hooks and sometimes goofy lyrics. This song focuses on the Winter Olympic Games and although they won’t take place this year this track still holds strong.
Regina Spektor- “My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)”
I just love Regina Spektor’s voice. The Russia Native released this song for free one year and it has become a constant on my winter playlist ever since. It’s a perfect song for that week in between Christmas and New Years.
Death Cab for Cutie- “The New Year”
This song is the leading track off Death Cab’s incredible 2003 album Transatlanticism, and I always try to make this the first song I listen to in the early hours of January 1. It’s a song that deals with finding resolutions after another year has flown by when you could have sworn it just started yesterday.
I hope this playlist might send a little cheer your way. So bundle up for these next few weeks and enjoy those oddball days of the temperature rising in between.
Author: Mike Moynahan
Bio: Mike Moynahan is a senior majoring in English and minoring in Media Studies. In addition to writing, he co-hosts the Indie 500 show every Wednesday at 7PM on The LION 90.7fm. He enjoys watching T.V. (especially Breaking Bad), digging deep into the bowels of Netflix for instant viewing when he’s bored, reading and napping in his free time. No artists will ever be greater than the Beatles or Elliott Smith but he commends the rest of the pack for trying their best. Some of his current favorites include The Gaslight Anthem, The Weakerthans, Death Cab for Cutie, The Front Bottoms, Titus Andronicus, Arcade Fire, Built to Spill, Manchester Orchestra, Kevin Devine, The Hold Steady, Los Campesinos!, Bon Iver, and Coldplay. Especially Coldplay.
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