an actually-not-terrible Christmas playlist

In no particular order, and with even more colorful commentary. And YouTube links because I realize most of these are… eclectic.

The Killers – “Joseph, Better You Than Me”

The Killers have been putting out a “quirky” Christmas song every year since 2005, so if you want unusual, that’s a starting point. This particular song is my favorite because of the perspective and because… well, you’ll have to listen to it, but it’s one of those things that wouldn’t have worked if anyone else had tried to do it. Just sayin’.

Pentatonix – “Carol of the Bells”

Look, as an alto this was one of my least favorite songs because the traditional alto part is basically “stand there and look pretty”, but… it’s still a beautiful song. I can’t think of any bad versions, so y’all get this one because it was the first one that came up on my itunes that had human voices. You’re welcome.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Wizards In Winter”

The song that birthed the synchronized-lights craze (as far as I’m aware). And with good reason. TSO is another act that can do no wrong in their additions to the Christmas canon, but this is the one that gave a brand-new outlet to the Clark Griswold wannabes of the world.

My Chemical Romance – “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

I have to include this cover because… it’s not good. At all. MCR was a fascinating band because Gerard Way is a creative genius who does not do things halfway. This particular cover of an overdone “modern classic” – and now I’m really curious how this even HAPPENED – has none of that brilliance. It is, however, interestingly terrible and still better than the original, so…

Katy Perry – “White Christmas”

Another one where I’d really like the origin story. Feel how you want about her, but this is a good addition to any compilation of festive background noise.

Kelly Clarkson – “Just For Now”

I’m not sure who decided this was a holiday song, or why (other than that it’s about family members who shouldn’t be in the same room). The original version, performed by Imogen Heap, is haunting and creepy-wonderful. Kelly Clarkson’s cover is… bigger. A lot bigger. In the best, most over-the-top way. And yet still sounds, if you’re not listening closely, like it just might be about happier things.

Straight No Chaser – “The 12 Days of Christmas”

What?? Something that would appear on a nicer person’s playlist?? Yeah, this is an exception because it’s that good. Look up various versions online – having at least originated as a college ensemble, their lineup has changed over the years – and prepare to be entertained.

Barenaked Ladies – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”

The most well-known modern version of that song, so… again something you’ve probably heard before, but again good.

Eartha Kitt – “Santa Baby”

I mentioned in my last post that I think the original is the only good version of this song. I’m mentioning it here because the above link is video of her performing it. Definitely worth watching.

Vanessa Carlton – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Let me put it this way – there are no brass instruments or overkill drums involved in this version. It’s delicate and not at all the normal rendition, and that’s the beauty.


make it stop, make it stop, make it stop

Okay y’all, time for the first in a series of list posts. The usual content on Littlest Lioness (aka random musings about the utter insanity that is my love life) is gonna go on hold for a while. In its place, well… today, I present to you a horror story from having worked retail for several holiday seasons.

Christmas music is inherently annoying. Freaking FIGHT ME if you think otherwise. But not all annoyances are created equal, and in honor of that I’m doing a set of two posts. The second one, which will go up in a couple days, will be my own personal holiday playlist of lesser-known covers and eclectic awesomeness. THIS ONE, however, is the opposite. This is my hell-no list of songs that need to not be played in public places during the season, and it’s extremely biased but whatev. I have FEELINGS.

So, without further adieu, the list:

the entirety of Zooey Deschanel’s Christmas album

I just… no. Her voice is annoying and gets on my nerves. And if you have to have that on your playlist, just one or two songs will do. Not the entire album. Or… nevermind, I just checked itunes and there are actually TWO albums (and I don’t intend to rec any of her stuff, but the cover of “Meli Kalikimaka” is every bit as horrific as one would expect so um yeah). No. Not good. Go back to your corner with your tennis-ball eyes and your ukelele.

any version of “Santa Baby” apart from the original.

This one gets a disclaimer because, well, the original version is iconic. Eartha Kitt was a badass (and sidenote, can we get a bait-movie biopic of her starring Thandie Newton?? please??), and for having been originally recorded by a black woman in the early 1950s, that song is ambitious. So her version, with her impeccable diction, can stay. The hundred or so other versions?? Not so classic. Exactly how many festive odes to sexual manipulation do we really need?!

Bruce Springsteen’s rendition of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”

Can we please not?? I try to have respect for icons who’ve earned their status, and from what I’m aware (please tell me if I’m wrong), the Boss’s decades-long career is worthy. And that particular cover isn’t even that bad. The problem here is frequency. Because it’s musically interesting while still harmless and classic, that song gets played to hell and back in about every store I’ve ever been in between mid-November and Christmas. The occasional hearing, I can tolerate. Once an hour? Nah.

any rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” performed by an adult male

Creepy at best. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. Even worse with a country accent, but still a bad idea without one.

“Run Run Rudolph”

This one gets points when used in movies (or as background noise when my mom and grandma and I ran through three stores in search of a cologne my dad wanted that WE DID NOT FIND – yeah, that actually happened), but I’m not sure what the point is. Or if there even is one. I’ll tolerate Kelly Clarkson’s version because it sounds like genuine FUN and she seems like one of the only current pop stars who genuinely wanted to do a holiday album, but in general this one’s just an obnoxious earworm.

“I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”

Speaking of earworms… dude, I live in Cincinnati, #teamfiona for life, but still. There is no exception version of this song. The version by A Great Big World is gonna be stuck in my head until February. Go awaaaay.

approximately thirty covers of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” on the same playlist

No. Just no. It’s not even the content of the song that bugs me (that viral tumblr post explaining cultural context and how it was actually pretty progressive for when it was originally written has solved that problem). It’s the fact that everyone and their freaking cat has done a version of it, and there’s not a lot that can be done to make any particular cover different, and familiarity breeds contempt.

“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”

Again, this is a local-girl thing. Do not remind me that everyone in my geographical region is about to forget how to freaking drive for three months, and don’t sound so damn cheerful about it either!!!