Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone is feeling the festive spirit this season, despite how odd the world still is. If you aren’t quite there yet, don’t worry – this playlist should help get you ready for a cosy Christmas.
Merry Christmas, Ed Sheeran and Elton John
We open the playlist with the brand new bop by a fantastic and truly unexpected new duo. The twinkly opening of the song, shown in the music video as Ed singing into a 1970s silver mic on an old fashioned television, made this the perfect song to start our playlist with. Described in the Guardian as ‘blanketing avalanche of plinky-plonky schmaltz’ – my favourite kind – this charity single is apparently not for everyone, but Grinches aside, the song is joyful and is undeniably fun.
Favourite lyrics: ‘Build the fire and gather ’round the tree/Fill the glass and maybe come and sing with me’.
Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones), Norah Jones.
I have tried to add in some brand new Christmas contributions, as well as all the old classics that we play every year. One of these new tracks is Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones) by the effervescent Norah Jones. That’s right – this year she released a Christmas album! I Dream of Christmas is full of peaceful, soothing tracks featuring her incredible dreamy, smoky vocals. It was hard to pick just one track for this playlist. Special mentions go to Christmas Glow, Christmastime, and the extra-bluesy cover of Elvis’ Blue Christmas.
Favourite line: ‘I wanna be a Jolly Jones/Instead of feeling all alone/I sing a song that feels like home/This Christmas’
Merry Christmas Happy New Year, Ingrid Michaelson and Zooey Deschanel
The ever-lovely Ingrid Michaelson also treated us all to a new Christmas album, which I highly recommend. Songs for the Season has guest appearances from such icons as Jason Mraz, Christina Perri, and even Leslie Odom Jr. My favourite track, however, is Merry Christmas Happy New Year featuring none other than the original quirky girl icon herself, Zooey Deschanel. The song is bright and joyful, and has lots of lovely twinkly bells in the background which is always delightful. I also highly recommend the gorgeous stop-frame animation music video.
Favourite line: ‘Something ’bout those Christmas lights/And these frosty winter nights/I feel like a kid again falling in love with you’
Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas, Dolly Parton and Michael Bublé
This is one of the best things to ever happen to Christmas. Last year, Dolly Parton released a Christmas album – A Holly Dolly Christmas, brilliantly – and obviously she got the King of Christmas in on the fun. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you this one is good – I’m sure you could tell just by the artists names. By the way, this is another one where I highly recommend checking out the music video.
Favourite line: ‘What’s to do but love on you, cuddle up and cozy down?’
Edelweiss, Julie Andrews
Now for a couple of songs from my favourite Christmas films. (Watch out for a post coming soon with our recommendations for the best films to watch at Christmas). The Sound of Music is one of my favourite films to watch at Christmastime, so I had to include this beautiful version of Edelweiss from Julie Andrews’ 2001 album ‘Classic Julie – Classic Broadway’. I’m not even going to try and sum up Julie Andrews – I’m sure you already know who she is, and she has multiple autobiographies out if you ever want to know more about the Woman the Myth the Legend that is Dame Julie Andrews.
Favourite line: ‘Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow’
Count Your Blessing Instead of Sleep, Bing Crosby
It was really difficult to narrow down the songs from White Christmas – without just going the obvious route – so I decided to stick with the sleepiest of them all. Bing Crosby singing Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep should be part of the bedtime routine of every single human alive. Bing’s voice is so beautiful and melodic, this seemed like a perfect addition to the playlist. (No one tell my boss that I got distracted re-watching videos of the dance routines from this
Favourite line: ‘When my bankroll is getting small/I think of when I had none at all/And I fall asleep counting my blessings’
Christmas Surprise, Hans Zimmer
I’ve thrown in Christmas Surprise from the Hans Zimmer soundtrack to The Holiday. It gets a special mention for being definitely wintery if not all out Christmassy – you can probably get away with leaving this on your wind down playlist well into the new year. As an instrumental piece, no lyric for this one!
Silver and Gold, Burl Ives
Silver and Gold from the Rudolph the Reindeer stop frame animation movie is in here because it is extra twinkly, and the depth of Burl Ives’ voice puts me in mind of like late 1950s/early 1960s John Wayne movies, which might not be a Christmas staple for anyone else but make me feel like I’m sat in front of the tv, by the fireplace, drinking a big mug of cocoa.
Favourite line: ‘For silver and gold/How do you measure/It’s worth/Just by the pleasure/It gives here on Earth?’
Winterlude, Bob Dylan
This Bob Dylan track gets a place despite, again, not technically being a Christmas song. However something about this song envelops my mind in all the cosy Christmas feelings. Plus, not every Christmas song needs to be about reindeers to count! And the rhyme scheme of this song makes me feel like I’m one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men.
Favourite line: ‘The moonlight reflects from the window/Where the snowflakes, they cover the sand/Come out tonight, ev’rything will be tight/Winterlude, this dude thinks you’re grand’
Winter Wonderland, Louis Armstrong.
Now it was really hard to pick just one version of this classic, but the Louis Armstrong version is so gorgeous I couldn’t leave it out.
Favourite line: ‘Later on, we’ll conspire/As we dream by the fire/To face unafraid the plans that we made’ (more songs should use the word Conspire, by my reckoning).
The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole
I would say it was hard to choose which version of this classic to include, but that would be a lie. Nat King Cole’s version is my favourite by a country mile. His smooth, almost smoky voice is as luxurious and Christmassy to me as chocolates from Fortnum and Masons.
Favourite line: ‘And so I’m offering this simple phrase/To kids from one to ninety-two/Although its been said many times,/Many ways: “Merry Christmas to you”’.
New Years Day, Taylor Swift
I know, you probably think I’ve got some kind of Taylor Swift problem – and honestly my Spotify Wrapped agreed with you – but I don’t know if I’d class this as a problem. The woman can write a bop! New Year’s Day is a beautiful ode to Swift’s partner, and I love any piano-forward track, especially at this time. This is probably my second favourite New Years song.
Favourite line: ‘Please don’t ever become a stranger/Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere’
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?, Ella Fitzgerald
Well I had to include my favourite New Year song as well! We’re wrapping up this post with one of the best songs for the season. Ella Fitzgerald will forever be my favourite singer, because no one has ever come close to her vocally, at least as far as I’m concerned. This song makes me want to get drastically better at the ukulele so I can play along while she sings.
Favourite line ‘Maybe I’m crazy to suppose/I’d ever be the one you chose/Out of a thousand invitations/You received’
For all these tracks and (lots) more, please check out this playlist.
A few months ago we also released a collection of Songs for your Autumn Playlist, which you can find here.