Holiday music celebration

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By: Krisin Helf, Columnist

It’s nearly impossible to get into the holiday spirit without listening to the classic, seasonal songs that have been brainwashing us with holiday cheer since birth. Bing Crosby comes to mind, and even if you don’t know who he is, you’ve likely heard his incessant crooning about mistletoe and sleigh rides throughout the years.

Crosby is a holiday staple, so much so that my dad bought a singing, moving 3-foot-tall Bing doll at a thrift store a few years ago. Our mini Bing is both cute and obnoxiously cheerful, much like his music. My dog is terrified of him, and it’s adorable.

When you’re looking to rediscover some old favorite holiday songs, Joni Mitchell’s “River” is a great place to start. Branch out your holiday music palette while celebrating whatever it is you celebrate this December. I’m here to provide you with a list of the best holiday albums that you should hear this season.

“Home for Christmas” by Dolly Parton

A cozy, country Christmas calls for children’s hits like “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and hymns including “Little Drummer Boy” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” that celebrate the birth of Jesus – if that’s what you celebrate. Parton’s certainly full of faith and spirit, which she celebrates in this album, certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Also hear her 1984 duets with Kenny Rogers in “Once Upon a Christmas.”

“Christmas Portrait” by The Carpenters

I’ve always been a big fan of the Carpenters, especially Karen Carpenter, whose sweet voice perfectly suits this time of year. “Christmas Portrait” features traditional songs overlapping Dolly’s “Home,” but also an original Carpenters song, “Merry Christmas Darling.” Brother and bandmate Richard Carpenter acknowledges “Darling” to be one of Karen’s best recordings, and I’d have to agree.

“The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album” by The Beach Boys

Side one of the efficiently titled “Beach Boys’ Christmas Album” contains almost all original songs written by Brian Wilson, including “The Man with All the Toys” and “Little Saint Nick,” which, since their 1964 release, gained classic-Christmas-carol status. It should also be noted that while their famous “Pet Sounds” has no holiday or season affiliation, it’s another Beach Boys album filled with jingling bells that always makes me think of the holidays.

“A Very She & Him Christmas” by She and Him

She and Him are musician M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel, who is multitalented enough to not only venture into the world of indie music, but of Christmas tunes, too. Both of their voices are as calm and peaceful as the holidays should be, and mingle together beautifully on the twelve tracks of this album.

“The Holidays Don’t Have To Be So Rotten,” by various artists

For a more modern, oftentimes cynical outlook on the holidays, try all four volumes of “The Holidays Don’t Have to Be So Rotten.” Tracks range from the expected “Yuletide” and “Christmas Day,” to “Happy AlcoHolidaze” and “Orgy In The Elves’ Workshop,” all in my favorite, volume three. Especially take a listen to “Alp Shades” and “Snow Face,” by the fantastic band Candy Claws.

And that’s all for now. Happy holidays, everyone! I prefer older, classic holiday favorites myself, so if you need any more suggestions, I will kindly point you toward Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

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