Bing Crosby. Frank Sinatra. Andy Williams. There’s nothing wrong with the old stand-bys when it comes to Christmas music. However, every now and then it’s nice to taste some new blood. (Okay, sorry for the Halloween imagery, but you get our point.) This year we’ve noticed several pretty awesome tunes making a splash on our iTunes Radio account. These are each worth tracking down. While some are several years old, we’ve included them here because they’ve largely flew under the radar. Nevertheless, if given enough time, they’ll definitely become classics. Let’s get started.
10. Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) by KT Tunstall
Originally released by Darlene Love on the day Kennedy was killed, you may have thought “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” was a U2 song. Now that Tunstall has had a crack at it, though, we expect that to soon change. Good song about heartache and longing during the holidays, and a worthy No. 10 on our list of New Christmas Classics.
9. Deck the Halls by Los Straitjackets
You can sort of get a sense of how good this song is from the YouTube video, but it doesn’t quite do it justice as it’s a live performance. This has a very Sixties-ish surfer rock beat that’s infectious, especially if you plan on doing a little dancing during the holidays. While it’s not Los Straitjackets only shot at Christmas glory, it’s our favorite.
8. Lonely This Christmas by Mud
This one falls more in the “new to us” category as it’s not one that you hear very often, but Mud did a fantastic job of calling on The King in this tribute Christmas melody. In fact, they did such a good job that many people actually think Elvis sang it. Not so, but we can see how you might make that mistake. “Lonely This Christmas” is now close to 40 years old. Why it’s taken this long, and still you don’t hear it every Christmas, we’re not sure. Here’s hoping we can change it in our own little way.
7. I’ll Be Home For Christmas by She & Him
Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (She & Him) have a throwback sound that you could swear came straight out of the Sixties if not for the fact that Deschanel is a young whipper-snapper and you can see proof of that with each new episode of New Girl. After perusing the new Christmas album, it’s safe to say this is our favorite.
6. Boots by The Killers
Who knew The Killers released a new Christmas song every year? Well, you might have, but we didn’t until recently. “Boots” is a solid, sentimental entry to the Christmas music canon, and one of their best efforts.
5. Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas) by The Decemberists
The Decemberists recently breathed new life into this excellent John Denver Christmas song about a little boy, who has to witness his father’s drunkenness 364 days out of the year. All he wants is one day off!
4. Frosty the Snowman by Zee Avi
“Frosty the Snowman” is, by-and-large, a tired, worn-out song similar to “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” However, Zee Avi proves with this cover that you can breathe new life into old classics and come up with something completely unique. The fact that it’s one of our least favorite Christmas songs in its ordinary form and one of our favorites with this rework speaks volumes about the arrangement.
3. Christmas Time Blues by Trainwreck Riders
We swear we’re pretty happy-folk in spite of some of our Christmas music selections! This awesome piece from the Trainwreck Riders is the kind of tune that you break out a bottle of whiskey and a six-string for. The alt-country vibe scratches us right where we itch.
2. Ballad of Rudolph by Travis Denning
The “Ballad of Rudolph” follows everyone’s favorite under appreciated reindeer on the one Christmas that he finally gets some respect after years of being taken for granted. Travis Denning delivers a quick-tempo, upbeat tune that’s sure to set toes to tapping. Unfortunately, we couldn’t dig up a video of it on YouTube, but it’s well worth the 99 cents you’ll pay at Amazon, and you can hear a pretty good sample there.
1. The Cowboys Christmas Ball by The Killers
Not the type of song you would expect from The Killers, but definitely a genre they do well. The boys give us a quick-tempo’d story song that you can’t help but love. From the video, you’ll see it’s the story of a town besieged by frontier bad guys before some unlikely help arrives to save the day. Celebration ensues.