Ultimate holiday playlist

By Nick Erickson, Staff writer

Let’s face it: it is almost 2017. Most people are familiar with the traditional Christmas tunes that are force-fed down the throats of consumers. Whether it be from car radio airplay or JCPenny intercoms, people are definitely aware of the bitter cold outside, how grandma got ran over a reindeer and how Rudolph was ostracized from the pack because of his nose. To those who feel like the oversaturation of Christmas music is effectively killing their spirit, do not fear. Here is a list of Christmas-oriented tracks, both covers and originals, that’ll offer more than simply a little holiday cheer.

“All I Can Give You” by Jason Lancaster. Former frontman and multi-instrumentalist of rock band Go Radio, Jason Lancaster, pours his heart out on this track. Featured on Fearless Records’ “Punk Goes Christmas” compilation in 2013, his smooth voice is backed by pounding piano lines. Lancaster confesses to his lover that rather a material possession this Christmas, he has written this song for her in hopes to show her how much he treasures her. “All I can give is this Christmas song to you, I just hope that you’ll sing whenever your heart skips a beat when you’re thinking of me,” he sings. This track is a take on the idea of love and the spirit of giving, and its stripped-down production makes the emotion feels all the more sincere.

“Carol of the Bells” by August Burns Red. From the get-go, the conventional pulse of both tubular and sleigh bells insinuate this would be another traditional cover of the Christmas classic. However, the Pennsylvanian metalcore band August Burns Red shows off their true nature with ferocity in this solely instrumental track. The complexity of drummer Matt Greiner’s patterns shift the atmosphere into heavy territory. Guitarists John Benjamin and Brent Rambler successfully replicate the infamous melodies of the original composition, while adding their own incredible flair. This is arguably the most intense and aggressive anyone could make a Christmas song, and it is sure to liven up the annual fireplace get-togethers.

  “It’s Christmas Time Again” by Backstreet Boys. The legendary boy band of the late ’90s might not be as prominent as they once were, but let their mesmerizing 2012 single “It’s Christmas Time Again” not go unnoticed. One of their catchiest numbers in years, this track features the most beautiful five-piece harmonies anyone could ask for. A soft guitar and bell intro swiftly changes to a pulsating drum beat, making this track almost as easy to dance to with friends as it would be to carol to. Blare this from car speakers at maximum volume this Christmas to incite both joy and nostalgia in the neighborhood.

  “Christmas Without You” by OneRepublic. With the good tidings of Christmastime comes bouts of inevitable melancholy. For some it’s merely the weather, for others like OneRepublic’s singer Ryan Tedder, it stems from being apart from loved ones on the holiday itself. On the band’s 2011 single “‘Christmas Without You,’ Tedder sings of his distraught of being away from his baby on Christmas because of touring and other obligations, and his longing to head home. Sorrow piano arpeggios, thudding bassline and Tedder’s soaring falsetto in the chorus brings a drastic atmosphere shift from the norm and is perfect for anyone who needs a break from the abundance of cheer and smiles around them this holiday.

“Christmas In Harlem” by Kanye West. Notorious rapper Kanye West’s 2010 Christmas-themed endeavor is often swept under the rug. However, anyone with a sweet tooth for a rich R&B vibe can find pleasure in giving “Christmas In Harlem” a spin. Featured singer Teyana Taylor offers us a lush vocal hook over a beat and some keyboards, paving the way for West to sing of how happy he is to spend the holiday with his lover, and how he plans to live a little. Rapping of everything from eggnog consumption to dressing up as Santa, West makes sure to bring his party mentality to the masses as Christmas is both a time for loved ones and a time for celebration.