Lifestyle’s weekly Spotify playlist #69


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By Northern Star Staff

Weekly Spotify playlist: 

Daija’s picks

  1. Hurts – “All I Want for Christmas is New Year’s Day”
  2. The Staves – “Home Alone, Too”
  3. Lewis Watson – “Christmas Lights”

“All I Want For Christmas is New Year’s Day” is the final track off Hurts’ 2011 album “Happiness – Deluxe Edition.” This is not your typical Christmas song, as the lead singer Theo Hutchcraft sings about wishing for the New Year instead. Hutchcraft explains how the holiday season tends to make him blue and is now waiting for New Year’s Day, in hopes that the next year will be different and better. At the beginning of the song you’re immediately met with the ringing of Christmas bells that are used in about every holiday song, but paired with the melancholy lyrics, you start to realize that this is a sad, but hopeful holiday song. 

“Home Alone, Too” is a single that was released in December 2018 by the music trio The Staves. Again with the sad holiday songs, “Home Alone, Too” perfectly captures how Christmas is supposed to be a happy holiday filled with laughter and cheer, but for many people, it can be lonely. Some people don’t have anyone special to spend the holidays with or are missing someone, so it’s important to remember to be grateful for what and who you have in your life. A plus is that the song gives a nod to arguably one of the best Christmas movies of all time, “Home Alone.” 

“Christmas Lights” was released in 2016 by Lewis Watson.  This song uses the descriptions of lights and decorations to symbolize warmth and light during the holiday season, especially for those who feel a little dark during this time. In Watson’s version, as opposed to its original 2010 release by Coldplay, you don’t really get the Christmas sound, as he sticks to his usual guitar instrumental with the sounds of bells here and there. Still, he is able to convey the somber mood of the holidays with his raspy, smooth vocals. 

Caleb’s picks

  1. RuPaul – “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus”  
  2. Lady Gaga, Space Cowboy – “Christmas Tree” 
  3. Alaska, Courtney & Willam – “Dear Santa, Bring Me A Man (feat. Courtney Act, Willam & Alaska Thunderfuck)”

It’s that time of year to be jolly. What better way to start off the season than with Mama Ru and a good ol’ gay Christmas song? From her fabulous 1997 holiday album “Ho Ho Ho” comes a devilishly good twist on a classic with “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus.” With a nice pop beat, this song really gets you in the spirit of the season. I really enjoyed the snarky humor RuPaul added to make the song fresh. “But you know, I’m glad things worked out the way they did / because otherwise, Santa might be dead!” This line just always gets me chuckling. RuPaul’s wit really shines through with those words by bringing her full campy humor to the song. 

A piece of wonderful work from Lady Gaga, the queen of pop herself, “Christmas Tree” features musical artist Space Cowboy and was released as a single in 2008. The duo delivers a delicious holiday romp to get you in the mood to spread goodwill toward man. “Christmas Tree” has a catchy pop beat that makes it perfect for dancing and filling one’s mind with merriment. Personally, I listen to this song every day after Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas. 

I chose this next song because I really feel like it embodies the spirit of giving. I enjoy the catchy beat and think the melody and lyrics are just rocking. “Santa (dear Santa) / Bring me a man / I need a man, keeping me warm,” these lines really voice what I need this holiday season: a beautiful man to keep me warm. Initially released in 2014 as a single, “Dear Santa, Bring Me a Man” features three drag queens, Alaska Thunderfuck, Courtney Act, and Willam Belli, all of whom appeared on the hit drag competition series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The song is a parody of the Weather Girls’ song “Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas),” released in 1983. 

Sean’s picks

  1. Phoebe Bridgers – “If We Make It Through December”
  2. Slade – “Merry Xmas Everybody”
  3. I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME – “Christmas Drag”

Indie rock musician Phoebe Bridgers, most popularly known for her Grammy nominated song “Kyoto,” has released a cover of a Christmas song each holiday season since 2017. Bridgers’ 2020 cover of the Merle Haggard song “If We Make It Through December” provides a bleak feeling through its minimal, piano-driven instrumental and Bridgers’ soft vocals. Despite this feeling, the performance and lyrical content hold a sense of hope for the winter season, making the best of what can be enjoyed instead of what may be missed. This can be seen in the lyrics such as in the chorus, “Got plans to be in a warmer town come summertime / Maybe even California / If we make it through December, we’ll be fine.”

Slade, a British glam rock band popular in the 1970s and 1980s, released their original Christmas song “Merry Xmas Everybody” in 1973. The song features an upbeat rock sound and holiday feel to the instrumentation, while also providing a very rock-centered vocal performance. Based on when it was released, the song reflects a time in which economic inflation rates were rising in the western world. Slade provided a high-energy Christmas song for the listener to have fun and sing along to, regardless of any hardships that may be faced during the holiday season.

“Christmas Drag” by indie rock duo I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME, shortened to iDKHOW, has been released and re-released multiple times, originally in 2006 by frontman Dallon Weekes’ former band The Brobecks. In 2019, the song was realized in its final form on iDKHOW’s EP as the title track. The song is a bass-centered song that also pays homage to the classic Christmas song style in how the piano is produced on the song. It is a breakup song at its core but plays to the writer’s desire to be loved during the season.

Sarah’s picks

  1. John Lennon, Yoko Ono – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”
  2. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24”
  3. Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono released their song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” on Dec. 1, 1971. The familiar Christmas song evokes a sense of togetherness as Lennon sings about the upcoming new year, hoping that it’s one without violence and fear. The hopeful lyrics inspire you to spread Lennon’s message and to have a good Christmas yourself. The Harlem Community Choir sings backup vocals, cheerfully adding to Lennon and Ono’s anti-war message that the United States should stop their involvement in the Vietnam war, according to Genius. From the lyrics “And so this is Christmas (War is over)” and “Let’s stop all the fight (Now),” Lennon implies that in order to enjoy a holiday full of goodness and cheer, ending America’s involvement in Vietnam is the only way to achieve this peace. 

“Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” was released in October of 1996 as part of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” album. The song is fast-paced, making it feel like you are on the run while Christmas rock is playing behind you. Paul O’Neill, the founder of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, said in a video that this song was inspired by a cellist who, during the Bosnian War, returned to his hometown, only to find it had been bombed. One night, the city was alerting its citizens to go into the bomb shelter, and instead of going into it, the cellist went out to the city square, took his cello and started to play on top of rubble as bombs were falling from the sky. This story, reflected in the song, is one of bravery and of how music can be the voice of humanity. 

The Legendary Nat King Cole released “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)” in 1946. This classic Christmas song is Cole’s way of saying Merry Christmas to all who listen. According to an NPR podcast, James Torme explains how his father, Mel Torme, wrote “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)” a year before its release. It was during a hot summer day and Torme wanted to cool himself down by thinking of winter. He had some lyrics written down, and in 45 minutes, Torme had written one of the world’s most beloved holiday tracks. Whenever I listen to this song I want to curl up in front of the fireplace and watch the snow that never comes on Christmas day.

Nick’s picks

  1. The Jackson 5 – “Someday at Christmas”
  2. John Legend – “What Christmas Means to Me (feat. Stevie Wonder)”
  3. Justin Bieber – “Mistletoe”

Starting off the Christmas season with the classics, The Jackson 5’s “Someday at Christmas” is the epitome of fun Christmas music. Michael Jackson’s youthful voice floats out over his brothers’ backing vocals. When the second verse hits, Michael’s voice lifts higher and stronger. When verse six hits and Jerome comes in, it is a welcome change – though it is a relief when Michael comes back in at the end of the verse. The typical Motown bass line that the Jackson 5 are known for along with the addition of the glockenspiel in the background, adds a levity to the composition that makes it danceable and fun. This song feels like the hope on Christmas for something good despite the bad that may be occurring elsewhere. It feels like the youthful joy Christmas is known for.

John Legend’s “What Christmas Means to Me (feat. Stevie Wonder)” is an exceptional take on a classic Christmas bop. Legend’s vocals feel fun. He lightens up the song by adding textures galore to the mix. The horns in the background that respond to him on the pre-chorus and the choir that replies to his vocal lines, are remnants of the Motown sound that I think of during the Christmas season. The addition of Stevie Wonder at the end of the track playing the melodica is a great touch. Wonder’s melodic ability is clear here. The lines that he plays during this solo feel like they were built to be played over the track and that they must be the only thing that works here. Of course, the classic fade-out ending gets cheesy on the third or fourth listening, but what Christmas music isn’t cheesy after many listens? This song is the feeling of Christmas joy. Spending time with those you love and warm hot chocolate are embodied in this track.

Since no one has added it yet, I have to be the one to add Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” to the playlist. Bieber’s soft vocals paired with the minimal instruments behind him create the feeling of a romantic, snowy evening. The constant sleigh bells deep in the background mixed with the very upfront Christmas imagery in the lyrics build a very clear depiction of Christmas time. The lyrics “But I’ma be under the mistletoe / With you, shawty, with you” are just cheesy enough to love. They are certainly cringeworthy, but in that sense of your uncle who is trying too hard to be hip and make you like him, so it comes off a bit cute and you just kind of have to accept the cheesiness and love it regardless. The simple melody, the sleigh bells in the background and the mild cringe of Bieber’s lyrics feel like the holidays to me.