I love Christmas music.
I know I get a lot of flack for how early in the year I start listening to Christmas music from my fiancé, everyone on my social media, Bill, the local barista and…you know, everyone else.
Is September too early? Asking for this joker:
Hell, sometimes during the year, if I’m feeling down, I’ll put on one of my favorite Christmas albums and jam.
I almost considered writing about Christmas music that I hate, but after some research, I realized that I would pretty much only be writing about Christmas songs by the Carpenters.
While I love almost all Christmas music new and old, there are some notable remakes of holiday classics that I particularly appreciate. Generally speaking, I love when artists (of any medium) reimagine things in unique ways. Whether it’s gender-bent Disney characters or classic songs with new twists, I’m always blown away by artists’ creativity.
Here are some of my favorite reimaginings of Christmas classics.
Christmas Don’t Be Late by Norah Jones
Talk about reimagining a song!
Everyone, young and old, is familiar with this classic spunky Christmas song sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks. The Norah Jones remake is far more slow and soulful than upbeat and silly, and yet the song is somehow perfect for her voice. I have no idea how or why it works, it just does.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper
When you listen to the radio this time of year and this song comes on, it’s always a toss-up whether you’ll hear the version that is only Frank Sinatra or Sinatra with Cyndi Lauper. I have to say, after hearing the version with Cyndi, the original is basically pointless. With her awesome and powerful voice as well as her well-placed chime-ins (I just love when she asks “Really?” incredulously when Sinatra sings that Santa sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake — I mean, she’s just saying what we’re all thinking!), Cyndi only adds to this holiday classic. When I do hear the version that is only Sinatra come on the radio, I just sing her parts because — I repeat — it’s pointless without her!
Santa Baby by Michael Bublé
So I know I said earlier that I love reimaginings like gender-bent Disney characters, but I’m typically not a fan of artists changing genders in a song simply because they’re remaking a song originally sang by someone else (if you’re singing Last Christmas, for example, the line is “…a man undercover but you tore me apart.” There’s no need to change it!). However, in this version of Santa Baby, Michael Bublé has completely changed all of the lyrics to make it so that he’s asking for things that he would want, not the original women who sang the song. He also calls Santa a bunch of different cute nicknames like “buddy,” “pally,” and “poppy,” some neat deviations from the classic “baby.” Overall, I think this reimagining is pretty cool.
The 12 Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser
This song truly needs no introduction. If you haven’t listened to it before, go and listen immediately.
For anyone who finds the typical 12 Days of Christmas song to be boring and repetitive, this humorous alternative might change your mind. Straight No Chaser creates a fun twist on the original with other Christmas classics mixed in, joking moments where some of the group seems to have forgotten which day of Christmas they’re on, and even a shoutout to Africa by Toto. Fun fact: I had never heard Africa until this song, so I had no idea what they were referring to. Once I heard the original, I was like, “Oh hey! This is from that Straight No Chaser song!”
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
I’ve definitely talked about this song on the blog before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again! As someone who went to Christian school, I’m a sucker for the classic Christmas hymns, so it’s nice to hear some of them on the radio. Not to mention that this is a fun, folksy collab mashup that is totally unique compared to other Christmas songs you hear on the radio. Now if we could just get a fun, folksy version of Good Christian Men, Rejoice, I’ll truly be living my best life.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson
So I am “one of those people” who is not a fan of the coercive and non-consensual nature of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. It won’t stop me from listening to it, but it does make me cringe and want to put out a PSA to not give into peer pressure and if someone tries to make you do something you don’t want to do, they don’t have your best interests at heart!
But I digress…
Unfortunately, most “PC” reimaginings of this song also make me cringe. I’m not entirely sure why or how, but they always feel like they’re trying too hard. This version, however, is perfection. Between the amazing voices of John Legend and Kelly Clarkson and the lyrics that have been somewhat amended without being entirely rewritten, you couldn’t do much better for a Baby, It’s Cold Outside rewrite.
It’s really exciting to see so many new Christmas songs come out and new versions of Christmas classics being made. While I wouldn’t hate listening to Chicago’s Christmas album nonstop from September to January, it’s nice to have more options for fun Christmas music. Any fun remakes I might’ve missed?
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko