An article that is hopefully considerably less awful than it’s title might suggest, this is my pick of this year’s new Christmas songs, with 2020 providing a surprisingly bumper crop as everyone tries their hand at spreading a bit of Christmas cheer, or chronicling the bleakest of bleak mid-winters. Merry Christmas ya filthy animals…
Anna Burch – Your Heart May Be Heavy
Some artists seem perfectly suited to Christmas songs, the wistful pop perfection of Anna Burch falls firmly into that category. The track nearly didn’t even make it after a mild bout of Covid had Anna struggling to sing, thankfully she managed to recover in time to put out her tribute to, “everyone muddling through”. With it’s beautiful piano motif and subtle re-imaginging of Judy Garland’s famous line, “may your heart be light”, this feels like an instant classic.
The Dears – Christmas Love
Described by the band as, “a very simple love song about how sometimes this time of year can highlight who you really want to be with“, Canadian indie-legends The Dears wrote us a brand new Christmas song, and in doing so got as close to writing something that would appear on a Phil Spector Christmas Record as anyone this year.
Living Body – Don’t Kill Yourself (It’s Christmas)
The project of Leeds-based songwriter Jeff T. Smith, Living Body’s take on a Christmas song is, in their words, something of a, “direct mantra to myself”, a sincere and honest reflection on a difficult year that aims to open up a discussion about mental health challenges. It’s a reflection on nostalgia, longing for a simpler past and opening yourself up to life’s struggles. As Jeff explains, these feelings shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re struggling, please contact:
Mind:– Helpline (Christmas hours vary): 0300 123 3393– Email: firstname.lastname@example.org– Text: 86463
PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide (people under 35):– Phone (9am-midnight): 0800 068 4141– Email: email@example.com– Text: 07860039967
Sharon Van Etten – Silent Night / Blue Christmas
If I could pick anyone in the world to put together a stunning version of a Christmas classic, Sharon Van Etten would be very high up on the list; no surprises, her take on both Silent Night and Elvis’ Blue Christmas are both stunning.
Dream Nails – Lonely Star
As well as unleashing their modern Christmas-classic, Dream Nails even found time to put on a Feministmas live-stream, even if their Christmas song is kind of an anthem for people who don’t really like Christmas all that much. Sounding as Christmassy as The Darkness in a Santa Hat, it is an anthem for everyone finding life a bit tough lately, especially those who don’t have accepting homes to go back to for the holidays or find the whole Christmas thing, “a heteronormative bore”.
Phoebe Bridgers – If We Make It Through December
Raising money for the Downtown’s Women Centre in Los Angeles, Phoebe Bridgers signs off her monumental year with her beautiful and brutal take on Merle Haggard’s classic, If We Make It Through December. One for everyone hoping to just get the whole thing out of the way and make it through to Spring without the heating packing in.
Field Music – Home For Christmas
Memphis Industries released an entire label-wide compilation for Christmas this year, the highlight of which was Field Music’s angular take on the holiday season, Home For Christmas; a track about appreciating your lot that channelled fellow North-Eastener Chris Rea, only replacing the car with a rail replacement bus service.
Father / Daughter Records – Simply Having A Wonderful Compilation
One of my favourite labels on the planet, Father/Daughter Records put together an all star cast for their Christmas Compilation with offerings from Illuminati Hotties and Diet Cig stealing the show.
Gold Baby – Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter
Lending their weight to the campaign to end loneliness, Sian Berry and her fellow Gold Baby bandmates put together their sparkling country-licked take on Bing Crosby’s classic, Looks Like A Cold, Cold Winter, a message of hope, love and togetherness to help us all get through the tough winter ahead.
Fightmilk – Fightmilk & Cookies
London’s most boisterous indie-poppers Fightmilk have gone the whole Christmas-hog and put out an entire Christmas EP, with covers of everything from Britney Spears to The Muppets, and originals with titles as good as, Happy Christmas (I Guess I’ll See You Next Year) and I’m Dreaming Of A Christmas (Where You Just Explode). It’s every bit as fun as you’re imagining and more.
Holly Macve – Wonder
Take the voice of a country-singing angel, mix it with a nostalgic remembering of a romanticised Christmas, and just a touch of Elvis, and what do you get? Holly Macve’s cracker of a Christmas song.
Lindsay Munroe – Oh Come Emmanuel
Fresh from her fabulous EP, Our Heaviness, Lindsay Munroe’s take on the classic carol, Oh Come Emmanuel, kept things straight-forward and beautiful. One for fans of Josh T. Pearson’s Christmas EP from a few years back.
Julmat – Next Xmas
Julmat are the combination of Julia Rakel and Melby’s Matilda Wiezell; their idea to collaborate came about over Instagram, and ended with a song about wanting to fast-forward to Next Christmas. “To hell with the news and to hell with this time of year, to hell with restrictions, fast forward to next Christmas”, a thought I’m pretty sure has crossed all our minds this year.
Problem Patterns – Christmas Number One
I kind of knew I was going to like Problem Patterns Christmas song as soon as I read they were, “a ferocious four piece, feminist punk band”, then when the song took a turn to existential dread, the deal was sealed. A new Christmas-bop for anyone who thinks The Ramones’ Merry Christmas (We Don’t Wanna Fight No More) is the ultimate Christmas classic.
The Just Joans – Card from a Multipack
It’s by everyone’s favourite Scottish miserabilists, it’s called Card from a Multipack, frankly what isn’t there to like about this? Who knew that a poorly chosen Christmas card could cause so much pain?
Mumble Tide – Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
Taking on one of my personal Christmas favourites, Mumble Tide’s version seemed to take the Christmas tree to Honolulu for a whole lot of sashaying, sun-drenched fun.
Lost Map – Christmas Card Compilation
Lost Map seem to have got the whole gang together for a big old Isle of Eigg shin-dig; metaphorically of course, this is still Christmas in the time of Covid. Eclectic and intriguing, I’m particularly taken by Fell’s track, Fear Of Christmas, described by the label as the middle ground of Shakin Stevens and “the theme tune to ITV’s Heartbeat (starring late-80’s pin-up, Nick Berry)”, which is surprisingly accurate.
Wyldest – Another Christmas
Fusing just a little bit of Christmas cheer with a reminder not to take your friends and loved ones for granted, Another Christmas reflected on Covid-19 forcing songwriter Zoe Mead to spend Christmas away from her family for the first time, it’s beautiful and sad all wrapped up with a bow on top.
Corvair – Flannel Pajamas
A suitable finale, as Corvair’s Flannel Pajamas is actually the first track to be lifted from wiaiwya’s 2021 Christmas album. A suitably wistful send-off to 2020, that’s looking forward to 2021, now there’s something we can all get behind.
Merry Christmas – See you in 2021!