Shattered Illusions

It’s finally that time of the year again. Christmas jingles, holiday movies and the smell of hot chocolate will fill every Christmas-fanatic’s house. Despite the obvious differences, Christmas is strikingly similar every year. I listen to the same music, watch the same movies and follow the same traditions. As far as I can tell, this is true for many. “Elf” and “The Santa Clause” are watched over and over again, while “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is played hourly on the radio.

While these enjoyments and traditions are part of what makes Christmas so magical, every now and then I find myself wanting to broaden my horizons a little with the Christmas music I listen to. Come to find out, Justin Bieber and Michael Bublé are not the only artists with Christmas songs to put you in the holiday spirit. In fact, for those who aren’t a fan of the typical holiday tunes, there are many artists who managed to steer away from the overdone songs, and have created something completely unique for the Christmas season. 

With a little browsing through Spotify, a great music source, I discovered numerous alternative Christmas singles. Many popular alternative bands have in fact produced at least one Christmas song. To my disappointment, only a few have made Christmas albums. 

Some of my new favorite songs now include “Wonderful Christmastime” by The Shins, “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” by The Civil Wars, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Punch Brothers, “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” by The Head and the Heart, “Christmas Must Be Tonight” by Bahamas and more by The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, Jack Johnson and The Kinks.

While a couple of these songs may be just covers of the common Christmas tunes, many are original songs that not only put me in the Christmas spirit, but are genuinely enjoyable to listen to. Even the covers, such as “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Punch Brothers, is done uniquely so one can enjoy a little flare in a well-known song. I strongly enjoyed The Head and the Heart’s single. They were completely original and upbeat with an alternative indie-rock sound while managing to capture that Christmas sound.

When looking for full Christmas albums, I found a few that stuck out to me. First was the numerous Christmas albums by Sufjan Stevens, an American singer-songwriter. His Christmas albums offer a mix of traditional Christmas music and alternative Christmas music. He turns out to be a great go-to when wanting some relaxing Christmas background music.

Another of my favorite Christmas albums is by Third Day, a Christian rock band from Georgia. Lead singer Mac Powell has a truly unique and rough voice, which adds a beautiful touch to many traditional Christmas songs. For those who are looking for an album with many Christmas, Christian classics, this may be the one for you.

This Christmas season, try broadening your horizons with what Christmas music, and even movies, you choose to enjoy. There are so many underground, yet wonderful, Christmas entertainment options available to satisfy our holiday needs.