To accompany “It’s Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas,” Steve Burgess’s cover story about holiday tunes in the Nov. 28th issue, Swerve‘s staff decided to share their favourite songs—the good, the bad and the fugly—of the season. Heck, some aren’t even about Christmas.
Valerie Berenyi, Swerve’s Editor in Chief
“Hurry Home” by the Good Lovelies Need a sharp and sassy jolt of not-quite bluegrass in your Christmas collection? Check out this track from Under the Mistletoe (2009) by the Good Lovelies, a Toronto-based trio that’s a little bit folk, a little bit pop and a whole lotta harmony.
“Early On One Christmas Morn” by Bruce Cockburn Bruce Cockburn’s jaunty “Early On One Christmas Morn” will get your new Xmas slippers tapping early on Christmas morn.
Danae Thompson, Swerve’s Art Director
“Dominick the Donkey” by Nick the Pizza Guy Stumbled on this gem a few years ago and is constantly moving to the top of our holiday playlists. It always brings a chuckle, and now that I see Nick the Pizza Guy’s take on this classic it brings full out belly laughs.
“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” by the Drifters This song always warms my heart and makes me think of young Macaulay Culkin singing into his comb in Home Alone, my fave Christmas movie.
Meghan Jessiman, Swerve Contributor
“Someday At Christmas” by Stevie Wonder He’s Stevie Wonder, need I say more?
“Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson Not a carol, per se, but musical genius never the less. If you want to lie down and have a good cry over the holidays, this is the song for you!
“Last Christmas” by Wham! This track would have never made the list in previous years, but it’s the first carol I heard this year and it’s been on repeat in my head every day since. Bane or a blessing, I’m not sure, but perhaps I’m finally embracing my ’80s roots? The gift that keeps on giving, however, is the epically bad hair in the music video.
Ruth Myles, Swerve’s Senior Writer
“Christmas Is” by Run DMC The hip-hop pioneers’ “Christmas in Hollis” might get all the love, but this seasonal shout out from 1992 will totally have you rockin’ around the Christmas tree with its joyous “Give up the dough, give up the dough on Christmas, yo!” But there is a message in this motor-mouth madness. (Remember, Rev. Run is a man of the cloth, y’all.) “I’m gettin’ mine, you gettin’ yours, that’s how Xmas is supposed ta be/A very merry Xmas for everybody, fight poverty, give to the needy/Don’t be like the Grinch, ’cause the Grinch is greedy/Deck the malls with balls of holly, it is the season to be jolly.”
“River” by Joni Mitchell Not a traditional holiday song, per se, but the first line is “It’s coming on Christmas” so we are planting our Xmas flag on it. Play this one to balance out the deluge of peppy, uplifting songs that swamp the season. The sprinkle of “Jingle Bells” towards the end of the song is absolute perfection, disjointed and jangled, just like Ms. Mitchell’s emotions. This version was recorded at Royal Albert Hall in 1970 and there’s no video, just sound. No matter, just look out the window at the snowy landscape and let Mitchell’s voice take you away.
Jon Roe, Swerve’s Going Out Editor
“Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” by Paul McCartney
There’s something about the holiday season that allows for super-cheesy synth riffs (though apparently Paul McCartney is embarrassed about the song, it’s too late—it’s already part of the popular canon of holiday songs).
“Fairy Tale of New York” by The Pogues Even punks celebrate Christmas. The uncensored version of the song hit No. 1 on the Irish charts and No. 2 on British ones during the Christmas of 1987. As this is a family publication, I’ve included the radio cut rather than the controversial original.