Rock It: Refresh your Christmas playlist this year

Posted on November 14, 2013


Rock It: Refresh your Christmas playlist this year

By: Rachael Mattice

Music is an integral element of the holiday season year after year, with artists concocting new renditions of classics as we tally our favorites and our slams.

As gleeful as it is to hear the same songs while you are waiting in a packed line in a department store shopping, or playing that same ‘N Sync album at ugly sweater parties, nobody wants to hear Christmas tracks with vulgar words (not for this holiday) or vocal runs by Christina Aguilera that make a song unrecognizable.

Here are some alternative, non-atrocious “‘Tis the season” tunes that don’t smack the originals, yet refresh them enough to make you smile during cookie baking and gift-wrapping:

Kurtis Blow – “Christmas Rappin’ ”

This is one of the first rap songs released on a major label in 1979. It has been sampled so many times since then, no wonder it sounds familiar. Haters, move aside, it’s dance worthy.

James Brown – “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – “Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects”

Although the James Brown and Sharon Jones songs have some grim content about less fortunate holidays, they are powerful and have a great beat. Just don’t drink alone while listening to them.

Bruce Springsteen – “Merry Christmas Baby”

Many blues and blues-leaning rockers did this song to their liking. B.B. King, Otis Redding and Sheryl Crow each have their own arrangement. “Merry Christmas Baby” is suitable for any celebratory or laid-back event for the season.

Run DMC – “Christmas in Hollis,” “Christmas Is”

The Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight)”

The bitter truth of many get-togethers: Families, couples and friends bicker and are stressed out until they are red in the face. Although this isn’t the meaning behind the holiday, tension builds unintentionally. The slight aggression to the vintage Ramones takes the “brighter side” approach.

Mindy Smith – My Holiday

This mellow folk/country song is a relaxing original. Play this in the car after you slave away trudging through the woods cutting down your own balsam Christmas tree.

Splynta – “Have a Reggae Christmas”

Although I am from the frozen tundra, further north than the shirtless-in-snow Lambeau Field, white
Christmases don’t appeal to me, at least not anymore. For those basking in warm rays and frolicking on beaches at the end of 2012, this song will reflect that atmosphere. For those stuck in the cold, at least you can listen to this reggae song next to a warm fire.

A few more:

Solomon Burke – “Presents for Christmas”

Eric Clapton – “Christmas Blues”

AC/DC – “Mistress for Christmas”

Have a happy holiday season with hours of music and singing with your family.

Mattice is a producer and music journalist  for the Journal and Courier. She can be reached at or on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

Posted in: "Rock It" Column